Programs

Climate Justice

The Institute for Political Ecology looks at climate change, the most important environmental problem, through a social lens. Like other forms of environmental change, climate change increases social inequalities, both globally and at country level, which further affects power relations in society. From the viewpoint of climate justice, special attention needs to be paid to the fact that the poor and marginalized, who have made the smallest contribution to the creation of this problem, will bear the brunt of it, and without the necessary resources to cope with it. IPE also initiates or engages in research that covers the political dimension of mitigating climate change or adapting to climate change.

 

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Green Economy

Through its research work, IPE wants to contribute to the “greening” of unsustainable economic policies. Those are the policies that at the same time open new jobs and reduce the overall ecological footprint. IPE will therefore conduct research into organic agriculture, green industrialization, renewable energy and energy efficiency, urban sustainability, etc. The “greening” of economic policies will give special focus to local ownership, economic democracy and the widespread distribution of economic benefits in society.

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Commons

The commons are a model that places the management of natural and social resources in the hands of the user community, as opposed to having them managed by the market and the state. Around the world, throughout history as well as today, there have been numerous examples of such managing models for lakes, forests, pastures, airports, buildings, parks, gardens, digital encyclopaedia and computer programs. Institutions structured by user communities ensure fair access to a resource, collective control over its management and sustainable use of the resource. IPE explores and popularizes the existing models of shared resources management, and proposes new models for joint management of resources to ensure environmental sustainability and social justice.

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Democratization of Public Services

Public services such as water supply, electricity and transport are key to environmental sustainability, as well as the social inclusion of citizens. These services are often provided by inefficient and corrupt public companies and institutions that are fully under the control of political parties and mainly serve private interests rather than the public one. As an alternative, numerous agents advocate privatization, realized through direct sale of public companies, concessions or public-private partnerships, but this gives the private businesses a monopoly that allows them to maximize profits at the expense of public interest. IPE explores models of democratization of public services in order to correct the shortcomings of public management and prevent the privatization of public services. Such models include different forms of transparency and participatory democracy, so that various social actors, such as users and workers, and not just representatives of political parties, oversee public companies and institutions in serving the public interest.

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Degrowth

Degrowth is a social movement and a conceptual framework which repoliticizes the development debate, currently overwhelmed by the idiom of economics. The degrowth movement and theory are attempts to reinterpret the fundamentally untenable position of modern society, and a call to build imaginaries and conceptual frameworks suitable for a radical shift towards sustainability. It is about sustainability in the physical and social sense; not just sustainability that provides enough energy and food for all people on the planet, but sustainability that describes a life worth living for everyone. There is a significant scientific and activist production of research topics under the degrowth umbrella, such as limiting economic growth, alternatives to the modernization theory of development, deepening democracy, the social role of science and technology, the necessity of leaving capitalism and designing institutional innovations such as the minimum guaranteed income, solidarity economy or alternative currencies.

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Trade Agreements

IPE’s research work also focuses on critical analyses of international trade agreements such as TTIP (CETA, TISA, etc.) and their implications for wider ecosystems and societies. Apart from inspecting the impact of such agreements on the environment and the risks of nature financialization, IPE also pays special attention to the impact of such agreements on changes in the public service sector and on public debt, working conditions and social inequalities. In its work, IPE seeks to show the impact such agreements have on certain sectoral policies.

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