Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements: Volume 15


Table of contents

(20 chapters)

In this chapter, we “occupy the earth” with an overview of the anti-fracking discourse(s) of diverse local initiatives converging as a global movement opposed to fracking. By mapping the discourse(s) of the anti-fracking movement, the articulation of the problems and solutions associated with fracking raise questions not only about the environment but draw attention to a crisis of democracy and the critical need for social and environmental justice. With the help of a multiple theoretical framework we draw on insights about environmental movements and their democratizing potential; conceptualizations about power and (counter) discourse; and depictions of the environmental justice movements in the United States. Toward this end, we analyze the framing of the anti-fracking movement: the many local voices engaging in political struggles to sustain their communities, places and ways of life, and the global movements’ forum for collective solidarity, recognition, and civic action. Shedding light on the multiple frames employed by movement members, we discuss the implications and potential embodied in this widening debate.


Japan’s civic environmentalism combines a tradition of local protest and activism with a national environmental movement that is limited in size and policy influence. A strong legislative and administrative response to the country’s severe pollution crisis of the 1960s and 1970s helped tamp down that era’s wave of protests and keep the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in power. While the state has generally supported local organizations engaged in environmental improvement activities, it has erected barriers that limit the scope of non-governmental organization (NGO) activities and inhibit the development of an influential national environmental movement. The 1990s reforms, inspired in part by the citizen response to the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, made it easier for NGOs to attain legal status and raise funds. Yet Japan’s civic environmentalism – by most measures – still lags well behind that of peer industrialized countries. The 2011 tsunami and nuclear crisis brought another opportunity for major reforms to the nation’s civic environmental culture – but the evidence to date indicates that the much anticipated transformation is turning out to be of a lesser magnitude than many had initially expected.


Ireland’s economic development not only provided many benefits but also caused difficulties locally and nationally. The economic crash and bailout, which occurred from 2008, have mired the country with huge debts. In addition, development created many environmental challenges in rural, suburban and urban areas. This chapter will examine community responses to those environmental challenges, discussing the mobilisation of the environmental campaigns that shaped the emergence of the Irish environmental movement.


Recent years have produced significant demand for geographical contributions to the study of social movements in general and of environmental social movement organizations (ESMOs) in particular. Geographical approaches to the study of ESMOs emphasize “the mediation of social movement agency by place” (Miller, 2000; Routledge, 1993) and call attention to the role of place-based environmental knowledge (EK) in the broader “struggle(s) over meaning” that increasingly constitute environmental politics (Buechler, 1997; Escobar, 1992; Rangan, 2000; Watts, 1990). My chapter responds to this call by providing an examination of the reproduction of EK by antipollution organizations in India’s central Ganges River Basin (GRB). Through interviews with organization leaders and members, along with analysis of organizational websites and publications, I examine the EK of two key antipollution organizations in the GRB: The Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) and Kanpur Eco-Friends (KEF). Analysis focuses on methods of knowledge reproduction employed by each organization, their respective framing practices, and the localized natures of the EK they reproduce. I argue that each organization works to reproduce a specific and place-based understanding of pollution in the GRB that informs their framing of the pollution problem, the tactical activities in which their members engage, and the power relations that exist between the two organizations and their leaders. Further, I argue that engaging with EK as both a method of understanding pollution and a tactic for consolidating political power is essential to making sense of the relative success of these movement organizations and the challenges they face in trying to build a broader coalition and mass-mobilization against pollution in the Ganges.


For over 40 years in Nicaragua, the Mayangna indigenous group has fought for legal rights to traditional lands with the expressed purpose of protecting their rainforest. On December 21, 2009, the last of nine Mayangna territories were granted rights by Nicaragua to a majority of their historical claims, in addition to rights to have illegal colonists removed by Nicaraguan police and military. Indigenous leaders pursued land rights as a measure for cultural survival and the protection of their broadleaf rainforest, also the site of a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, the BOSAWAS. While Indigenous lands are encroached upon by the frontline of imperialistic consumerism, people like the Mayangna ask for international and national respect for their autonomy, self-determination, land ownership, and even sovereignty.

The Mayangna lead the way to understand necessary steps for protecting the rainforest. Their actions demonstrate the possibility for social justice given respect for true ecologically sustainability. To begin, they fought to obtain ownership of their homelands, thereafter, they battled legally and even with their lives to defend their boundaries and everything within them. The Mayangna insist indigenous land ownership, the protection of their rights, and a respect for their traditional forms of management lead to the continued protection of the rainforest and other areas critical to the survival of the global ecosystem.


The purpose of this study is to serve a political-cultural perspective on the environmental movement in Israel through an examination of the organizations’ impact on the shaping of geographic space, the political system, and the general culture. The practical expression of political cultures is examined through an analysis of prominent organizations’ activism as manifested in seven representative environmental campaigns waged over the last four decades. The study is qualitative in nature, and as such is based on in-depth interviews with numerous actors from the environmental arena – institutions, NGOs, the business sector, and academia. The originality of the study is to deeper the cultural aspects of the phenomenon.

Some of the findings regarding the effectiveness of the environmental campaigns are showing that there is significant gap between the political system and the civil society in Israel, relating the environmental issue as a whole: while the first still see it as a marginal sector, the Israeli public and local leadership has made a change in the attitude toward environmental issues. This cultural gap is due to the difference in cultural values, between the local and national level.


Environmental justice activism is increasingly globalized, multi-faceted and multi-scaled (Bickerstaff & Agyeman, 2009; Walker, 2009a, 2009b). The existence or perception of injustice triggers the development of social activism in increasingly diverse contexts. The present contribution seeks to assess the explanatory value of resources in understanding activism (Freeman, 1979). In place of justice, the under-studied social movement theory of resource mobilization is explored as a complementary and partly oppositional account of justice activism. The highly controversial anti-GMO movement in France is selected as an invigorating context for evaluating activism. The perceived injustice of lifting restrictions on the importation of GM maize into France inspired the mobilization of a nationwide movement. In sharp contrast to existing literature, ideology is considered as a resource that effectively promotes or hinders social activism. Significant conclusions are developed for environmental justice activism research around emphasizing instability, heterogeneity, cultural sensitivity and above all, the limitations of agency-centric arguments.


Indonesia is one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries, providing ecosystem services that accrue at the global scale. However, control over access to and use of natural resources has historically been a source of tension between the central government and local communities, with the latter usually being marginalized by the former. Since the fall of the authoritarian Suharto regime in 1998, however, a grassroots movement supports the revitalization of customary communities and their traditional systems of social organization (adat). A major part of this quest for legitimacy is the portrayal of indigenous people as environmentally benign. This chapter describes how indigenous systems have been influenced by political processes over time. We then describe how the changing political–administrative landscape has given rise to a national indigenous rights movement. We also analyze international factors that have contributed to the emergence of the indigenous movement before discussing potential challenges facing the movement in the future. This chapter seeks to get beyond the simplistic conflation of indigenous peoples and environmentalism by understanding the strategic articulation of indigeneity and environmentalism.


Academic and popular literatures have addressed growing concerns about the ways we produce, harvest, distribute, and consume food; manage fisheries and inputs to agriculture; and deal with waste. Throughout the 20th century, a series of issue-specific frames emerged that explicitly addressed issues of social justice, the environment, and human health in the food system. During the mid-1990s that comprehensive master frames were established in attempts to bring disparate ideas and actions together into a more inclusive food movement. In this chapter, we explore the development of these collective action frames and turn to Canada as a case study to examine the key moments that have brought together diverse actors through collaborative networks to assert their place within a broader social movement. We argue that recognizing the increasing development of food networks and making these relationships visible opens new theoretical and practical possibilities for food system transformation.


Many megacities in the Global South have developed without any systematically regularized modernization processes. Therefore, urbanization is accompanied by the inappropriate level of economic and social opportunities. This macro-structural constraint of urbanization contributes to frame the patterns and features of many location-based poverty and inequality.

Dhaka followed the similar trajectory of development without creating substantial opportunities for its underclass, poor, and marginalized citizens. This unequal pattern of development influences the disproportionate environmental burdens of the marginalized people, who have little or no voice in the urban decision-making process. People experience unequal environmental inequality through their differential exposures to poor housing and/or living conditions, along with a lack of access to safe drinking water, sewage, adequate waste disposal systems, and so on.

In this context of urban injustice, this environmental justice movement (EJM) is an evidence of demanding basic rights among the unprivileged citizens. To some extent, this is a response to the state’s structural failure to provide urban environmental services (and social justice) to majority of its poor citizens.

Evidence suggests that in context of fragile democracy, an EJM can generate opportunities for progressive urban politics as well as contribute to redistributive development opportunities for its poor and marginalized citizens. Most megacities in the Global South inherit urban governance from their colonial heritages, which were often criticized for its citizen-detached and top-down nature.

Dhaka is not an exception in this context. In the present socio-political condition, even though the environmental movement is not very welcomed by the government – more particularly from the ruling political party – it can have tremendous implications on redistributive urban politics. This chapter focuses on Dhaka, which is currently one of the world’s largest megacities in the Global South.

This chapter highlights the local patterns and process of the unequal environmental burdens and the subsequent mobilization, demanding environmental justice in that process, as well as how that movement contributes to redistributive urban politics. The discussions of this chapter also have the implications on public policy discourse focusing on environmental rights, movements, and citizens-centered politics in the megacities of the Global South, with renewed relationships between the state and its citizens.


Spiritual ecology explores the interface of religions and spiritualities on the one hand, and environments, ecologies, and environmentalisms on the other. As an international environmental movement, spiritual ecology involves a multitude of diverse leaders, organizations, and initiatives. They share a common concern and commitment to pursuing the vital role of religion and spirituality in environmentalism to complement secular approaches to environmental problems and issues from the local to the global levels. Here, after some background, spiritual ecology as a component of the phenomena of international environmental movements is exemplified through three cases: the Green Belt Movement beginning in Kenya, the Green Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation affiliate of the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund).


This chapter analyses the politics of bird hunting in relation to the empowerment of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) in the European Union (EU), with specific reference to Malta’s first years of EU accession.

In particular, the analysis focuses on the activism of Maltese and International ENGOs – with special focus on Birdlife Malta and Birdlife International – on this issue, which is characterized by extensive EU legislation and by constant lobbying.

This chapter argues that ENGOs, both Maltese and European, were influential on State power in Malta, especially by resorting to the EU, and also being given prominence by the media. Yet the hunting lobby was influential too, and its influence on Malta’s main political parties is an overdetermining factor, which remained in place even after EU accession.

This chapter concludes that despite Malta’s EU accession, national political factors remain highly influential in the Maltese hunting issue, and that one can expect more antagonism in the years to come.

Publication date
Book series
Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN