Resource politics – the politics of access, use and control of resources as well as contested knowledge claims around these – has leapt up the global development agenda in recent years. Climate change, ‘planetary boundaries’, humanity’s survival and role in the Anthropocene and the green economy have all animated discussions around sustainability, inequality and security.
We believe accelerating sustainability needs to go beyond current ‘think global, act global’ thinking, which emphasises the need for large-scale responses to resource challenges and the uncertainties brought by global environmental change. These macro solutions risk ignoring gender dimensions, livelihoods and politics concerning resource use, consumption and production. There is a need to understand these growing uncertain dynamics in terms of what they mean for local people’s resilience and ability to cope and to tease out sustainable pathways to development and growth that do not compromise poor people’s rights and interests.
Another set of challenges concern how local resource users are being subjected to new sets of exclusions and dispossessions, such as those relating to the recent proliferation of land, water and green grabs which have increased inequalities and local insecurities.
Making sense of the complex challenges around resource politics means engaging critically with questions of environmental and social justice and what these mean in diverse contexts. It also requires bringing together learnings, perspectives and approaches from different academic disciplines and societal sectors that otherwise rarely connect. Only then can we unmask the many pathways that exist to strengthen sustainability, equality and security.