Sustainable environmental vs. sustainable social development : Tendencies of carbon colonialism and green authoritarianism when implementing renewable energy strategies on indigenous peoples’ territories

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Religionsvetenskap

Abstract: The intention with this essay is to illustrate the conflicts that might occur when states implement renewable energy strategies on lands that have traditionally belonged to indigenous peoples. To do so I have analysed case studies from Sweden as well as Latin America regarding renewable energy projects in areas that could be claimed to belong to indigenous groups and compared the conclusions from these studies to what the existing legal framework on the topic of the rights of indigenous peoples dictates. The results show that the main international legislation on the topic is very clear in expressing that states should grant indigenous peoples access to lands and territories that have traditionally been occupied by them, as well as granting them participation in the exploitation of natural resources. The analysis of the case studies shows that there exists a tendency among states to bypass what is stipulated in the international regulations when executing renewable energy projects, as well as using the term “sustainable development” as a cover-up when violating the rights of indigenous peoples. Although the international legislation on the topic is very precise, the majority of the world’s countries have not ratified the main legally binding convention. I conclude that one reason for this could be that states would find it hard to reach environmental objectives while at the same time complying with the legislation on the rights of indigenous peoples, i.e. states face difficulties in fulfilling sustainable environmental and economic objectives with sustainable social objectives.

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