Environmental disasters and the effects of climate change are becoming ever more evident. They highlight insufficient global and nation-state climate and environmental policies, the exploitation of natural resources, the extent of climate disasters such as drought, floods, and the decline of biodiversity, and related and overlapping problems such as migration, poverty, conflict, and marginalisation. The youth environmental movement ‘Fridays for Future’, which arose in 2018, has been instrumental in raising media and political awareness of environmental and climate issues and highlighting their global dimension. While we recognise the relevance of this movement, we also want to highlight the long history of the defence of nature around the world, such as movements for land and indigenous territory, anti-extractivist struggles, and in general environmentalist activities of the poor.
Against the backdrop of environmental and climate activism mobilising for a liveable future around the world, we want to examine connections within and between those movements. The global dimension of such activism illustrates that environmental and climate crises do not stop at nation-state borders and therefore require global solutions. Activism has also become more transnationally interrelated, which points to increased transnational or global conflict resolutions through activism, as is evident in Fridays for Future.
While we are currently witnessing a very active debate on climate activism, it remains limited predominantly to Europe and the United States. Environmental and climate activism from the Global South(s) are underrepresented in anglophone and German-speaking literature, despite their multiplicity. A consideration of this activism is not only important against the background of the globality of the environmental and climate crisis, but also because in the Global South activism might differ, as the conditions of activism and resistance are different. For example, lethal state and para-state violence against environmental activists is more prevalent in South America than in Europe. Post-development approaches have also shown that the conceptions of the good life, and more generally of future imaginaries, in the Global South are diverse, and thus the objectives of activism are quite different, as are their self-organisation and strategies, which are also a result of their specific historical, cultural, social, and political contexts.
In this special issue, we aim to provide space for scholars and activists based in or from the Global South to reflect upon environmental and climate activism.
Publication date: Spring 2024