Volume 13, Issue 2 (2022)

Semi-Peripheral Ecological Modernization and Environmental Governance in Chile: Locked into the Iron Cage of Unsustainability?
Alejandro Pelfini, Adrián Beling, Julien Vanhulst
This paper sets out to critically examine the New Institutional Framework for Environmental Governance (NIFEG) adopted in Chile through new legislation in 2010. Though nominally progressive in both social and environmental terms, the heavy reliance on bureaucratization as the key means for improving the legitimacy and effectiveness of environmental governance paradoxically appears to result in the reinforcement of the network of dominant interests in this policy domain. As a result, this leads to the canalization of socio-environmental conflicts through public mobilization and judicialization, that is: to the bypassing of political representative institutions. By framing Chile as a laboratory of ecological modernization in a semi-peripheral, extractivist context, and through the theoretical and methodological lens of dramaturgical analysis, this paper looks at discursive processes shaping environmental governance as a result of staged performances. It seeks to explore how the interplay of diverse elements - ranging from material enablers and restrictions to processes of psychological and cultural identification between actors and their audiences - result in the reinforcement of path-dependencies in the way of framing sustainable development within traditional power structures. This results in an ''oligarchization'' of environmental governance which ultimately translates into further deteriorating environmental trends and raises fundamental questions about the limits of environmental governance alongside the discursive lines of ecological modernization.

Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Agro-Climate Foresight Models: the Cases of Agrimonde and AgMIP
Sheila Heimenrath
A wide range of disciplinary scholars (computer modelers, climatologists, economists, crop and soil scientists, biologists, social scientists, among others) have contributed concepts and tools during the last decades to develop models to assess and confront environmental, agricultural, social, economic and climate challenges and their impact on food security as a multiscalar public issue (global, regional, national and local). Environmental degradation, social inequality, biodiversity loss, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and their cascading effects through the entire biosphere and hydrosphere are of concern for global food security and socioeconomic and health crises. Drawing on the analytic category of sociotechnical imaginaries, facilitating theorizing across disciplinary boundaries, this article approaches foresight exercises and modeling experiences of agricultural systems to reflect on the ''collectively held, institutionally stabilized and publicly performed visions of desirable futures'' embedded in the experiences of two foresight communities. On the one hand, this work engages and discusses the Agrimonde and Agrimonde-Terra foresight exercises exploring how to feed nine billion people by 2050 in a sustainable way, and the relationship between land use and global food security, respectively. On the other, the case study of a transdisciplinary network of climate and agricultural systems modelers from developed and developing nations, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) is characterized and analyzed. Tracing the sociotechnical imaginaries of these case studies, this article explores the configuration of future expectations, resource allocation, regulation and institutionalization of visions of the collective good related to agricultural knowledge, science and technology.

Absent, Obscured, and Hidden: An interdisciplinary analysis of visual race, ethnicity, and gender in UNDP representations of inequality
Gian-Louis Hernandez and Albert Denk
This study covers visual analyses of digital media to explore issues of inequality in development discourse. Using web-based articles presented by the United Nations Development Programme as our central object of research, we show the extent to which discourses on sustainable development represent ethnicity, gender, and race. This paper argues that representations can be interpreted as an integral part of systemic inequality. We demonstrate that the discursive formation reflects and encourages a specific approach to sustainable development, especially regarding inequality reduction. This approach is based on the four analytical categories: absence, arrangement, essentialization, and obscuration. This work encourages further interdisciplinary research and argues for a methodologically combined inequality analysis.

Environmental Subjectivity Formation in Ecuador: Challenging Prevailing Notions of a 'Green' Transition
Elizabeth Carrigan
There is broad consensus around the need for an energy transition already underway in many parts of the world. While far from abandoning fossil fuels, the presiding transition put forward by governments as a solution to the climate crisis is unfolding in spatially uneven ways. Contingent upon ever-expanding extractivism, the proposed transition stands to reproduce colonial patterns of inequality and environmental damage in global South countries. The plausibility on material grounds is empirically questionable; what this article is concerned with, however, are the ethical implications of dominant narratives of socioenvironmental transition, especially those that normalise a particular view of society and nature as anthropocentric. Taking the case of young Ecuadorians and their attitudes towards ecological problems, this author examines how their perspectives, in some instances dialogue with, and in other cases diverge from prevailing scenarios through the feminist framework of environmental subjectivity. In doing so, this article contributes to an expanded notion of climate justice by considering peoples' attitudes in sites of high extraction. This paper affirms that young Ecuadorians do not overly focus on emissions, but instead call attention to a variety of socio-environmental issues, mounting a critique of the extractive model of development.

Narratives of Hope: Imagination and Alternative Futures in Climate Change Literature
Anna-Zoë Herr
This paper discusses the modes and applicability of 'hope' in narratives on climate change, as found in five ecological pop-science texts written in the years between 2007 to 2021. It seeks to question and unearth the standard narratives about the climate crisis as dominant in Western spaces of science communication. Further, it unpacks the concept of hope and its role and capacity to contribute to a future imaginary that deviates from the standard narratives and finally seeks to uncover what alternative narratives could look like based on the analyzed texts. The analysis is based on narratology and affective theory which presents an 'experiential critique' of the subject on hope, of which the paper provides a thorough conceptual framework. The analysis finds that hope is a concept that is intimately entangled with imaginations of the future; however, hope does not have a universal understanding. Thus, 'hope' can on the one hand be ''what we need if we are to put it right'', and on the other hand, a principle pandering to structures and demands of 'modernity' which has been complicit in advancing the climate crisis. I propose a concept of ecological hope, which emerges out of an affective experience of loss and crisis. In a first step, the research will dive into background on climate change narratives, the context in which they emerge and their relationship with hope and crisis. It will also look at the importance of imagination and the necessity of cultivating it. It finally analyzes the aforementioned texts on their different imaginings of the future, what narratives matter to this future, their outlining of hope and their suggestions for transformation.

Instrumental Reason and Environmental Justice. On epistemological injustice and the entangled domination of humans and nature
Adrian Schlegel
This contribution starts with the observation that instrumental reason structures several institutions that are today at the foreground to solve the entangled ecological and social crises but are at the same time said to have produced environmental injustices. In a discussion of critiques of instrumental reason in the tradition of the Frankfurt School the case of this paper is to show that instrumental reason not only involves a domination of inner and outer nature by humans. Drawing upon intersections of decolonial, feminist and ecocentric critiques, it argues that instrumental reason is epistemologically grounded on the devaluing of and separation from racialised and gendered bodies. Instrumental reason therefore incorporates a generalisation of a particular cosmology that relies upon a dualist worldview, the idea of an autonomous subject and the claim for a totalising objectivity - simultaneously marginalising more convivial forms of relating. In contradiction to efforts for environmental justice, instrumental reason remains not neutral but implies multiple epistemological injustices and an entangled domination of humans and nature.

Review: ''Deconstructing Human Development: From the Washington Consensus to the 2030 Agenda" by Juan Telleria
Albert Denk