Special Issue "Global Resource Industries and Environmental Conflicts: Disciplinary Approaches, Methods, Literatures and Comparative Insights"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Human Geography and Social Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Michael L. Dougherty
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4660, USA
Interests: environmental sociology; rural development; extractive industries; environmental conflicts; global commodity industries; agrarian change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Human Geography and Social Sustainability section of the international scholarly journal Sustainability invites contributions for a Special Issue entitled: “Global Resource Industries and Environmental Conflicts: Disciplinary Approaches, Methods, Literature, and Comparative Insights”.

Over the past twenty years, investment in primary resource production has grown dramatically across the globe. This has been the case with the production of precious and semi-precious metals as well as industrial metals. We have also seen booms in rare earth mineral production and novel forms of energy development. Few regions of the world have been spared the experience of this global scramble for resources. Scholarship of resource conflicts has followed suit, and we know quite a bit now about the factors that drive these conflicts and the character of collective movements to challenge these industries; however, there are three challenges to this body of scholarship that this Special Issue aims to take up.

First, the extant literature has been somewhat contained within disciplinary boundaries with little cross-talk among disciplines. This Special Issue is particularly interested in manuscripts that bring disciplinary/conceptual/methodological and literature-specific themes to the fore to begin to think through how scholars might harness the strengths of the variegated approaches to these issues. Topics within this rubric might include:

  • Case studies/reflections on methodological approaches to studying resources industries and conflicts;
  • Reviews of the literature within certain disciplinary or cross-disciplinary parameters;
  • Conceptual and theoretical approaches to thinking through resource industries and conflicts.

Second, the extant literature has also made relatively few efforts to conceptualize specific resource conflicts within global webs of geopolitical contests in the context of climate change, resurgent nationalist populism, mass migrations, and late fossil capitalism. To this end, this Special Issue seeks papers that aim to link site-specific cases (be these mines, conflicts, or countries) within such global webs. These papers could take the form of:

  • Commodity chain/production network analyses of particular primary commodities;
  • Global geopolitical strategy and competition in land grabs and resource production;
  • Global flows of finance/financialization of the ground/underground;
  • Competition, embedded fossil energy, and the future of energy production;
  • Linking energy and mineral production with expulsions and migrant flows.

Finally, the extant literature would benefit from more comparative work. Intraregional and cross-regional comparative analyses highlight points of convergence and divergence in ways that make compelling stories with salient conclusions. This Special Issue is keen to include comparative analyses including but not limited to any of the following:

  • Comparing state engagement with extractive industry across countries;
  • Comparing collective movements to challenge resource industries;
  • Comparing industry social and environmental engagement across commodities;
  • Comparing development impacts of extraction in various countries or world regions.

Dr. Michael L. Dougherty
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • China
  • Energy
  • Rare earths
  • Fracking
  • Renewable energy
  • Gold
  • Extractive industries
  • Environmental conflicts
  • Global commodity chains
  • Political ecology
  • Extractivism

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Cooling Water: A Source of Conflict in Spain, 1970–1980
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4650; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114650 - 06 Jun 2020
Abstract
Water resources are limited and uneven in space and time. Competition for the use of the resource can lead to conflicts between water users. Besides its use for irrigation and agriculture, water is an essential input in the thermoelectric power generation process. Massive [...] Read more.
Water resources are limited and uneven in space and time. Competition for the use of the resource can lead to conflicts between water users. Besides its use for irrigation and agriculture, water is an essential input in the thermoelectric power generation process. Massive Spanish nuclear program projects have conditioned water management in the country, as significant freshwater volumes need to be constantly available for the proper operation of these facilities. Water for cooling has conflicted with other water-using activities, resulting in regional imbalances. The present study shows that cooling water represented a source of conflict between irrigators and electricity companies in Spain in the 1970s and 1980s. A historical analysis of documentary sources reveals that the drawing off of fresh water for cooling by the nuclear industry was one of the many causes of frequent disputes and the rise of social movements against the installation of nuclear power plants in Spain during that period. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ecological and Economic Sustainability of Non-Timber Forest Products in Post-Conflict Recovery: A Case Study of the Frankincense (Boswellia spp.) Resin Harvesting in Somaliland (Somalia)
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3578; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093578 - 28 Apr 2020
Abstract
Non-timber forest products have often been held out as potential tools for conservation and sustainable development, but sustainability assessments are frequently difficult and time-consuming, especially in conflict areas. Thus, rapid assessments can be useful in providing a broad overview of the harvesting system [...] Read more.
Non-timber forest products have often been held out as potential tools for conservation and sustainable development, but sustainability assessments are frequently difficult and time-consuming, especially in conflict areas. Thus, rapid assessments can be useful in providing a broad overview of the harvesting system in order to generate meaningful conservation or development recommendations. Here, we use rapid assessment methodology, including semi-structured interviews and direct observations, to examine the frankincense harvesting system in Somaliland in 2010 and again in 2016 and 2017. We identified significant levels of overharvesting, driven by a breakdown of the traditional management system. Demand for resin and resin prices increased dramatically from 2010 to 2017, at the same time as the tree populations were declining, resource tenure security was weakening, drug use was increasing, and the supply chain was becoming more complex. These factors combine to incentivize short-term unsustainable practices, and the lack of traceability and transparency prevents international buyers from meaningfully engaging with the system. However, new technologies and approaches being employed mean that buyers will soon be able to clearly direct their purchasing in order to incentivize sustainable practices and purchase resin in an ethical manner. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Illicit Chinese Small-Scale Mining in Ghana: Beyond Institutional Weakness?
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 5943; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11215943 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
While the engagement of Chinese migrants in small-scale mining in Ghana has gained traction in scholarship, the extant literature pays little attention to how the relationship between the so-called formal institutions (e.g., the Minerals Commission and Ministry of Land and Natural Resources) and [...] Read more.
While the engagement of Chinese migrants in small-scale mining in Ghana has gained traction in scholarship, the extant literature pays little attention to how the relationship between the so-called formal institutions (e.g., the Minerals Commission and Ministry of Land and Natural Resources) and informal institutions (e.g., the chieftaincy and customary land institutions) enables illegalities in the mining industry. This paper addresses this gap in the literature, focusing on the relationship between formal state and informal customary land institutions in the small-scale mining sector. Using an institutional analytical framework, we argue that the increasing involvement of the Chinese in small-scale mining in Ghana is an expression of a bigger and deep-seated problem characterized largely by uncoordinated interactions between key state and customary institutions. This, we suggest, creates parallel operations of formal and informal systems that promote different levels of agency and maneuvering among actors―breeding uncertainty, bureaucratic logjams, and illegalities in the mining industry. Based on our findings, we recommend that a more efficient coordination between the relevant state and traditional land governing institutions could curb the proliferation of illegal mining activities, and in particular, those involving Chinese migrants. As part of the conclusion, we suggest that future empirical research be conducted to explore the interactions between formal and informal institutions and how they affect mining activities. Full article
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