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Projections 11

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design

The MIT Journal of Planning

Eryn Deeming

Kian Goh
Eric Chu

Faculty Advisors
Amy Glasmeier
Lawrence J. Vale

Editorial Board
D. Michelle Addington
Gabriella Carolini
Roger Keil
David Pellow
Erik Swyngedouw

Alicia Rouault

Many thanks to Eran Ben-Joseph, head of the MIT Department of

Urban Studies and Planning, Lawrence J. Vale, chair of the PhD
Committee, and Ezra Glenn. In memory of JoAnn Carmin.

2015 MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning

2 Projections 11
Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 3

4 Projections 11

Editorial - Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 7

Eric Chu and Kian Goh

Enclosure of the Commons in a Global Economy: 21

British Enclosure and African Land Grabbing
Suzanne Song

An Insiteful Comparison: Contentious Politics in Liquefied 47

Natural Gas Facility Siting
Hilary Schaffer Boudet

Down the Drain or Back to the Roots? Political Ecology of the 77

Water-Energy-Food Nexus Visualized Using GIS in
Leh Town, Ladakh, India
Daphne Gondhalekar and Adris Akhtar

An Environmental Anthropology of Waste in Cairo: 99

Contexts, Dimensions, and Trends
Eman A. Lasheen

Designed Experiments for Transformational Learning: 113

Forging New Opportunities Through the Integration of
Ecological Research Into Design
Alexander J. Felson

Freeland: Urban Planning Strategy for Almere Oosterwold 135

Lachlan Anderson-Frank with Winy Maas/MVRDV

In Memoriam 153
Professor JoAnn Carmin

Cover image, An Impressionistic Visualization of the Human Impact

on the Earths Surface, by Nikos Katsikis

Photographs of Jakarta, Indonesia, on pages 6, 19, 150, and 151 are

courtesy of Etienne Turpin / anexact office

All other image credits as listed

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 5

Informal trash recycling on the Waduk Pluit, North Jakarta, November 2015.
Photo courtesy of Etienne Turpin / anexact office

6 Projections 11
Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and

Eric Chu and Kian Goh

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Engagement in sustainability planning is growing globally, yet we continue to

see environmental conditions worsen. Much attention has reasonably been
centered on capacities of national actors and policies, but corresponding
issues of scale(s), space, and agency have been largely unaddressed. For ex-
ample, scholars are just beginning to critically assess the interactive dynam-
ics between state, private, and civic organizations in facilitating collective en-
vironmental action; the role of global decision-making in shaping local policy
action; and the critical interface between urban and ecological spaces and
flows. As a result, the complexities and possibilities of state/local agency,
global networks, and spatial ecologies as a multidimensional system remain
under-theorized. This is particularly important in a time of global ecologies,
where worldwide processes now actively transform society and nature every-
where. This issue of Projections directly addresses this critical intersection
of politics, globalization, and built and natural environments. Our objec-
tive is to unearth the political and spatial dimensions of our environmental
crisis, and to reassert the physical and environmental aspects of the study
of urban politics and processes. The various articles included in this volume
highlight key concepts and practices in sustainability planning that address
the dynamic interrelationships of global urbanization, ecological change,
and the emerging hybridities of society and nature.

Scalar Theories of Environmental Sustainability and

World Development
Theories of human development and natural resource use are complex and
contested. Scholars prioritize issues of technology, modernization, and in-
dustrial change, on the one hand, and nation-state political economies, and
citizen and social movements, on the other (Rudel, Roberts, and Carmin
2011). The major schools of thought address problems and opportunities
at different scales of global political economy. A critical, historical engage-
ment is necessary to understand and appreciate the implications of these

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 7

approaches for the challenges we confront today.

In the 1960s, scholars began to re-comprehend the effects of industrial-

ization and resource-extractive economic production on the state of the
global environment through ideas such as human exceptionalism, ecological
impact theory, and the new ecological paradigm. Rachel Carsons seminal
work, Silent Spring (1962), successfully recast societys conception of in-
dustrialization and development in terms of the ecological externalities and
byproducts of modernization that were gradually being experienced by the
public. Together with other works such as Tragedy of the Commons (Har-
din 1968) and Impacts of Population Growth (Ehrlich and Holdren 1971),
Carsons writing ushered in an era where the study of environmental issues
and impacts reentered mainstream social theory. Dunlap and Catton (1979)
helped to articulate the Human Exceptionalism Paradigm, which directly
critiqued the notion that human societies, because of their ability to gener-
ate culture, technology, language, and organization, were exempt from eco-
logical principles and from environmental influences and constraints. These
ideas formed the foundation of environmental sociology (and the study of
the political economy of the environment), premised on the notion that so-
ciety must shed its anthropocentrism and accept that humans are subject
to ecological laws just like other species (Buttel 1987; Dunlap and Catton

At the same time, authors like Giddens (1991) and Beck (1991) proposed
the concept of the world risk society, characterized by a second moder-
nity, to address global ecological and economic dynamics or crises. Rather
than articulating industrialization and modernization simply as processes of
contestation between capitalist economics (for profit and production) and
class (labor, in particular), the authors emphasized the relationship between
modernization and the environment through the lens of risk, referring to a
systematic way of dealing with hazards and insecurities induced and intro-
duced by modernization itself. According to this theory, modern societies
take complex and deliberate risks, necessitating the reliance on scientists for
interpretation of scientific knowledge. The problem faced by modern societ-
ies, therefore, is the loss of faith in the institutions of modernity and, eventu-
ally, in the prospect of modernizing reflexively.

In the policy realm, there has been an increasing recognition over the past
several decades of the role of global politics and international institutions
in addressing the contradictions between environmental protection and eco-
nomic development. The United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (also known as the Rio Earth Summit) in 1992 set the founda-
tion for important global agreements such as the Convention on Biological
Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (Gupta 2014).
Scholarship emanating from these global policy advances mostly notes that
environmental politics must either be rescaled vertically down toward provin-
cial and municipal governments or up toward supranational regimes in order

8 Projections 11
to ensure effectiveness and accountability (Andonova and Mitchell 2010).
Still, this global interconnectedness is not necessarily a new phenomenon,
as scholars writing on world-systems theory and the environment have al-
ready been noting that the history of colonialism should be considered as
the main cause of underdevelopment (Gould and Lewis 2008; Roberts and
Grimes 2002). The message was that the major environmental problems of
our time needed to be understood in relation to the dynamics of an evolv-
ing world system, such as global inequalities involving core and peripheral

At the national scale, concepts of ecological modernization posit that the

market and its main economic actors should not only be interpreted as
forces that disturb the environment, but that major economic actors and
market institutions can also work in favor of environmental reform (Mol and
Janicke 2009). The theory contends that when talking about repairing the
design fault of modern industrial modern production, ecological modern-
ization asks that environmental factors not only be taken into account, but
also that they be are structurally anchored in the reproduction of these
institutional clusters of production and consumption (Spaargaren, Mol, and
Buttel 2006). Using Western European environmental states as exemplars,
the assumption here is that a process of industrial innovation encouraged
by a market economy and facilitated by an enabling and disciplinary state
will ensure regulatory progress toward environmental protection (Blowers
1997; Hajer 1996). In the context of nations in the Global North, this theory
suggests that the relationship between environment and development is no
longer framed around the ills of industrialization, but rather on reforming
and restructuring modes of development with regard to environmental laws
and policies (Huber 2009), enabling dialogue and negotiation between an en-
vironmental bureaucratic state and private sector actors (Mol, Spaargaren,
and Sonnenfeld 2009).

In contrast to ecological modernization, the theory of the treadmill of pro-

duction posits the existence of powerful tendencies within both the capitalist
market system and the state toward capital-intensive expansionism (Gould,
Pellow, and Schnaiberg 2008; Schnaiberg and Gould 2000). This results in
additions (essentially pollution) and withdrawals (the depletion of non-
renewable resources) (Gould et al. 2008; Mol and Buttel 2002). The treadmill
theory asserts that capitalist economic criteria remain at the foundation of
decision-making about the design, performance, and evaluation of produc-
tion and consumption, thus forming a self-reinforcing treadmill of produc-
tion, consumption, and growth towards ever-expanding profits and returns
on investments (Gould and Lewis 2008; Pellow and Brulle 2005). Social in-
stitutions of modern industrial society lubricate the treadmill (Gould et al.
2008). The root of the problem is the power of elite institutions to construct
reality and define the environmental situation for the mass public, while ex-
ercising extraordinary material and structural power over both people and

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 9

Both ecological modernization and treadmill of production theories address
state political economy, the role of private capitalist production, and the
effects on the countrys politics and society. Both theories offer ideas that
engage with civil society, such as reflexive modernization, environmental jus-
tice, and new social movements around the environment. However, these two
nation-state level theories suggest a dichotomous conception of how (and
under what circumstances) an environmental state forms and promulgates
itself. For scholars of ecological modernization, the state and its associating
political changes will give rise to private eco-efficiencies and overall envi-
ronmental reforms ( Mol and Buttel 2002; Buttel 2000). In contrast, tread-
mill theorists stress the profit-oriented practices of private economic actors,
their autonomy relative to the state, and capitalists domination over other
state interests (Schnaiberg, Pellow, and Weinberg 2002).

We see an opportunity and an imperative to rethink these two prevail-

ing concepts, particularly when economic production flows, civil society net-
works, and ecological risks and impacts are increasingly transnational. Fur-
thermore, theories of environment and development at the nation-state level
derive its context and empirical support from a sample of countries over-
whelmingly represented by advanced capitalist and social democracies of
Western Europe and North America (Blowers 1997). Many of these critiques
draw on issues of environmental justice, social movements, and citizenship,
as highlighted in the next section.

Social Movements, Environmental Justice, and

Environmental Citizenship
The literature on social movements and mobilization around issues of the
environment is vast, especially at an age in which resistance against modern-
ization and development paradigms are pervasive (Castells 1984; Escobar
1995). Under globalization, local movements are mobilized to defend local
traditions, enlarge local autonomy of civil society, and resist the intrusion of
foreign ideas and global problems (Della Porta and Diani 1999). The study
of environmental movements in the development context is couched in terms
of cultural differences, territorial defense, and some measure of social and
political autonomy (Escobar, Rocheleau, and Kothari 2002; Escobar 1998).
Mobilization, therefore, is aimed at building new patterns of socialization
and behaviors that are more conducive to democratic discursive designs
(Eckersley 2004). Theorists of environmental movements, marginality, and
citizenship sometimes also emphasize the important roles played by rural
population and by marginalized social groups, such as women and tribal
communities (Escobar et al. 2002; Omvedt 1993), who struggle to protect
local ecologies for their basic needs and their unique cultural values. This
literature is also highly critical of overly technocratic state interventions that
are informed by Western ideas of development and modernity, and thus ig-
noring the indigenous knowledge systems and cultural practices employed

10 Projections 11
by these marginalized groups for ensuring livelihoods and protecting local
environments (Rangan 1997; Scott 1999). Therefore, the goal of some of
these environmental movements is to promote underlying concepts associ-
ated with ecologically responsible statehood (Eckersley 2004) and, eventu-
ally, leading to environmental and social justice in sustainable development
(Van Der Heijden 1999).

Theories of environmental justice are premised on the notion that basic func-
tions of societies involve the production of both intense ecological harm
and extensive social hierarchies. Ecological disorganization and environmen-
tal inequality and racism are fundamental to the project of modern nation
building (Pellow 2007). The environmental justice movement is a political
response to the deterioration of the conditions of everyday life as society
reinforced existing social inequalities while exceeding the limits of growth
(Pellow and Brulle 2005). The movement argues for distribution, recogni-
tion, participation and capabilities (Schlosberg 2004), and has sought to
redefine environmentalism as much more integrated with the social needs
of human populations while also challenging the capitalist growth economy
(Pellow and Brulle 2005). Similarly, on the development side, theories on
alternative development (and alternatives to development) stress the role
of the rights of the marginalized and disempowered, local knowledge, and
popular, grassroots movements (Escobar 1995; Friedmann 1992; Pieterse
1998). Both schools, therefore, harken back to the ideas of reflexive modern-
ization as presented by Giddens and Beck, and refer to an age where society
is increasingly reflecting and mobilizing against the byproducts of modern
industrialization and economic development.

We see ideas of environmental and green citizenship as an effective analyti-

cal tool to bridge the different scalar conceptions of environment and devel-
opment relationships that we have outlined. The concept of environmental
citizenship portrays a certain level of embeddedness between state and civil
society while reflecting on paths of development that attempt to balance
environmental sustainability and responsible development (Dobson and Bell
2005; Eckersley 2004). On one hand, citizens engaging in the civic life of
the state help to disseminate an ecological sensibility (Cornwall and Coelho
2007; Johnston 2011), empower residents, and contribute local knowledge
and experience that would be prohibitively costly for outsiders to acquire
(Evans 1996). On the other hand, the rationalization of state environmental
functions can be fostered through the enrichment of embedded state-society
networks with two key actors in civil society: environmental justice move-
ments and environmental knowledge professionals (Davidson and Frickel
2004). In order for state-based notions and practices of green democratic
citizenship to be justified, one needs to cultivate civil society-based notions
and practices of democratic citizenship. These civil society practices of envi-
ronmental citizenship focus on non-state authorized notions of ecology and
development where action towards environment and development requires
criticism and transformation of state structures and policies (Barry 2006).

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 11

At the same time, this process promotes synergy and interaction between
the community, experts, and decision-makers (Khanna, Babu, and George
1999). The concept of green citizenship, we would argue, is a good tool to
navigate theories of development and environment across these different
scales because it pits the normative ideals of environmental sustainability
and development against traditional conceptions of resource-intensive mod-

Planning and Design, Theory and Practice

Concepts of sustainability and sustainable development have been in-
stitutionalized in global development since the World Commission on Envi-
ronment and Developments (WCED) Our Common Future report (1987),
which defined sustainable development as development that meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs. Most definitions of sustainability acknowledge the
importance of promoting environmental integrity, social harmony, and eco-
nomic viability amongst and across places and spaces (Brown et al. 1987;
Campbell 1996). Planning practice plays an important role in interrogating
and conceptualizing the relationships between different scales of action as
well as the actors and networks necessary to promote sustainability.

In an era of increasing global engagement in sustainability, the concept is

increasingly being critiqued as being overly vague. Many scholars note that
sustainability practice is often susceptible to green washing, or does not
lead to transformative behavioral change to combat fundamental challenges
such as global climate change. Traditional theories of ecological moderniza-
tion, production, and environmental justice are in a state of flux due to the
emergence of new non-state actors, new ecological risks and vulnerabili-
ties, and new alternative sustainability practices outside traditional global
or multilateral policy realms. Furthermore, many scholars argue that human
society is on the cusp of entering the Anthropocene, a new geological era
in which humans have become the primary driving force behind planetary
change (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000; Parnell 2016; Steffen and Stafford
Smith 2013; Steffen et al. 2011). As a result, planning theory and practice
must be reconfigured in order to account for these emerging environmental
actors, networks, and flows across rapidly changing and interacting scales
of governance.

Planning, as a discipline, is particularly suited to this endeavor. Its normative

lens, and its specific set of knowledge claims and methods what ought to
be, and how to get there from here provide the means to understand, inter-
pret, and change (to broadly invoke Marx). Alongside, in this volume we also
emphasize the role of spatial interventions of design, broadly constituted.
Planning scholarship, in particular around issues of environment and justice,
have often reinforced divisions between social and spatial. In environmental

12 Projections 11
planning, for example, it has tended to draw a line between hard, engineered
infrastructure, and measures that are more social and political in focus. Is-
sues of justice, at the same time, have regularly been considered outside the
realm of physical planning, and of urban design even as scholars rue the
spatially unequal impacts of social and environmental injustice. And urban
design as a field of planning is in need of exploration, and precision. Its
core theoretical lineages from the modernist, functional CIAM movement to
Kevin Lynch and Jane Jacobs views of urban social complexity now show
their limitations faced with a set of new, intertwined challenges of climate
change, global urbanization, increasingly interconnected social movements,
and the surge of megaprojects changing the urban world.

In this issue of Projections, the articles explore the reconfiguration of envi-

ronment and society relationships in an era of global ecologies. They include
empirical studies of sites around the world, explorations in transdisciplinary
research and engagement, and speculations on urban and environmental
design interventions.

Beginning with a global, historical perspective, Suzanne Song explores the

relationship between the British Enclosure movement and contemporary
cases of land grabbing in Ethiopia. The author points out the role of for-
eign investment in African land grabs, in the context of global markets, and
the importance of secure tenure and common pool resources in envision-
ing sustainable development. Then, Hilary Schaffer Boudet looks through
the lens of social movements to analyze opposition to liquefied natural gas
facilities in thirteen sites across the United States. Focusing on threat lev-
els, political opportunity, and internal resources, she probes the conditions
for and pathways towards successful opposition strategies. Daphne Gond-
halekar and Adris Akhtar study the political ecology of water infrastructure
in Ladakh, India, using field surveys and GIS analysis to study patterns of
urbanization and resource degradation, and to propose alternative, more
sustainable methods of development. Eman A. Lasheen probes the sociopo-
litical landscape of waste management in Cairo, Egypt, exploring the com-
plex social and cultural orders around the work of the Zabbaleen, informal
waste pickers, amidst broader political and economic transitions. Alexander
J. Felson proposes a method of combining the tools and strategies of urban
and landscape design with modes of knowledge of scientific experiments,
towards more effective urban ecological research and practice. And to end,
Lachlan Anderson-Frank details the urban design and planning proposal for
Almere Oosterwold, the Netherlands, by MVRDV. The Dutch architecture and
urbanism firms proposal offers a new model for Dutch development, bal-
anced between collectivism and individualism. It is a 21st Century retelling
of Ebenezer Howards Garden City ideals, situated in an emerging context of
global economic pressures and Dutch market liberalization.

In addition to the written articles, visual projects engage with the two ex-
tremes of scales, from the planetary to the local. The cover image, by Nikos

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 13

Katsikis, is An Impressionistic Visualization of the Human Impact on the
Earths Surface, at the beginning of the 21st Century. Katsikis combines
population density, land use patterns, transportation routes, and communi-
cations infrastructures to create a composite map depicting human impact
on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Interspersed throughout the volume,
Etienne Turpins photographs of Jakarta, Indonesia, document the spatial,
physical conditions connected to the ongoing debate around chronic, severe
flooding and large-scale urban development.

Together, these articles and visualizations illuminate critical pathways to-

wards theories and methods to grapple with new global conditions.

14 Projections 11
Andonova, Liliana B. and Ronald B. Mitchell. 2010. The Rescaling of Global Environ-
mental Politics. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 35(1):25582.

Barry, John. 2006. Resistance Is Fertile: From Environmental to Sustainability

Citizenship. Pp. 2148 in Environmental Citizenship, edited by A. Dobson and D. Bell.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Beck, Ulrich. 1991. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Blowers, Andrew. 1997. Environmental Policy: Ecological Modernization or the Risk

Society? Urban Studies 34(5-6):84571.

Brown, Becky J., Mark E. Hanson, Diana M. Liverman, and Robert W. Merideth,
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Buttel, Frederick H. 1987. New Directions in Environmental Sociology. Annual

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Buttel, Frederick H. 2000. Ecological Modernization as Social Theory. Geoforum


Campbell, Scott. 1996. Green Cities, Growing Cities, Just Cities?: Urban Planning
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Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 15

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Escobar, Arturo, Diane Rocheleau, and Smitu Kothari. 2002. Environmental Social
Movements and the Politics of Place. Development 45(1):2853.

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16 Projections 11
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Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 17

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18 Projections 11
Informal residential housing in Mauru Baru, North Jakarta, November 2013.
Photo courtesy of Etienne Turpin / anexact office

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 19

20 Projections 11
Enclosure of the Commons in a Global
Economy: British Enclosure and African
Land Grabbing

Suzanne Song
ETH Zrich

This paper explores the enclosure of common land in predominantly agrar-
ian economies where poor rural inhabitants are disproportionally affected.
The relentless, capitalist drive to privatize land through what Harvey terms
accumulation by dispossession is compared and contrasted through two
examples; historical British Enclosure and contemporary African Land Grab-
bing. The analysis examines the national globalization policies implemented
that argue economic development, applies the framework of sustainable de-
velopment to (a) policy impacts on the poor (b) modes of collective action
as reactions (c) possible strategic approaches to explore planning alterna-
tives in Ethiopia to resist processes of accumulation by dispossession. The
unsustainable impacts of impoverishment, food insecurity, marginalization,
and migration similarly characterize both the historical and contemporary
cases of enclosure. Land degradation and resource overuse are additional
factors in the delicate Sub-Saharan environment that are a profound deter-
minant on the fragile conditions necessary for livelihood and environmental
sustainability. Land grabbing exacerbates the decreasing supply of produc-
tive resources available to farmers. Secure tenure and access to common
pool resources (CPRs) are critical for sustainable development. Collective ac-
tion through the cooperative movement in England mobilized internal class
struggles that resisted capitalist accumulation through enabled competition
in a globalized free market. The growing cooperative movement in Africa
is developing competitive potential but land grabbing is embedded at the
global level of neo-liberal politics and needs sustained multi-scalar support
by international coalitions. An alternative planning model is discussed that
combines cooperatives and CPRs to strategically secure land and incorpo-
rate socioeconomic, sociopolitical and environmental development that di-
rectly engages rural communities.

Keywords Sustainable development, rural-urban migration, globalization,

accumulation by dispossession, cooperatives, commons

Song 21
Urbanism is the mode of appropriation of the natural and human
environment by capitalism
- Guy Debord1

This paper explores the enclosure of common land in predominantly agrar-

ian economies where poor rural inhabitants are disproportionally affected.
The relentless, capitalist drive to privatize land through what Harvey terms
accumulation by dispossession is compared and contrasted through two
examples; historical British Enclosure and contemporary African Land Grab-

The analysis aims to indicate a possible strategic approach integrating the

balanced dimensions of sustainable planning in Ethiopia where land, owned
by the federal state, as a productive input to the developing economy and
a source of livelihood to poor farmers is critical. The dialectic framework
addresses the interdependence of complex drivers and impacts of devel-
opment and suggests a practical planning model based on combining co-
operatives and common pool resources (CPRs) that would directly engage
rural communities, secure land tenure, mobilize collective action to foster
socioeconomic and political development, and aid in resisting environmental
resource overuse and degradation. Deterring land grabbing by foreign capital
and its domestic facilitation would need to be addressed in conjunction with
sustained multi-scalar support of international coalitions.

The well-known historical example of British enclosure occurred during the

vast demographic change from the 17th to early 19th centuries when popu-
lation doubled from 1750- 1850 from 11 million to 21 million people (Voth,
2003, p.224; Redford, 1964, p.14) and GDP in the UK rose from 72.6 mil-
lion to 323.18 million2 Government supported enclosure policy enabled the
shift from a rural agricultural to urban industrial economy that facilitated
landowner profits from globalized trade and simultaneously contributed to
the rise of poverty, paupers and vagrants and exacerbated rural-urban mi-
gration. At that time,3 arguments that claimed enclosure would benefit na-
tional economic development by increased food production and agricultural
efficiency were used to implement governmental policy through the Parlia-
mentary Inclosure Acts, peaking from 1750-1820 when over 3,800 acts en-
closed about 7 million acres (2.83 million hectares) of common open field
arable, pasture and waste land or approximately 20% of the surface area of
the country and transferred use rights solely to private owners (Turner, 1980,
p.324; Makki & Geisler, 2011, p.4). In 1500 45% of the land was enclosed,
in 1700 61%, by 1914 it was 95% enclosed (Allen, 1994, p.98).

Today, in the case of Sub-Saharan Africa and Ethiopia, drought and crop
failure contribute to susceptibility to poverty and famine, predominantly af-

22 Projections 11
fecting the rural poor. Ethiopias population more than doubled from 1975
to 2011 from 33 million to 84.7 million people.5 From 1994 to 2007 the
national population growth rate averaged 2.6% though was slightly lower for
the urban population of 12 million than the rural population of 62 million.6
Per capita GDP in 1974 is estimated at $110,7 it rose from $636 in 2005 to
$979 in 2011 while annual per capita GDP growth fell from 9.2% to 5% in
the same period. Government supported policies target economic develop-
ment through strategic neo-liberal directives that seek private capital invest-
ment to transform a smallholder agricultural to an industrialized agricultural
economy. The argument of developing the agro-industry by attracting foreign
investment capital spurs policy facilitating the transfer of large-scale tracts
of agricultural land to foreigners but precludes meeting such domestic de-
velopment goals. The impacts of land grabbing that disproportionately dis-
possess poor farmers of common resources exacerbate decreased domestic
productive land supply and water resources that impact domestic food secu-
rity, rural-urban migration, and threats to the environment.

Similar conditions of demographic growth, the targeted shift from an agri-

cultural to an industrial economy, and policies supporting capitalist accumu-
lation by dispossession can be traced in both the historical case of Britain
and contemporary Ethiopia. Similar effects of globalization that exacerbate
poverty, food insecurity, rural-urban migration, and marginalization also
characterize both cases. But in the case of England, capitalist accumulation
by dispossession was driven by profit-seeking in the emerging industrialized
market of globally traded goods and reinforced by governmental policy that
privileged domestic land owners returns. It materialized as internal struggles
in class politics between landowners, merchants, landless commoners and
laborers. While in the case of Ethiopia, capitalist accumulation by disposses-
sion is embedded in neo-liberal global politics that privileges foreign capital
seeking new resources and returns (Harvey, 2004, 2006). Any shifts in do-
mestic internal class politics are stymied by lack of simultaneous social and
economic development, lack of a peasant material base of land and capital,
lack of alternatives for livelihood in industrialized sectors and the fragile
ecological conditions of environmental degradation impacting food security
in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Enclosure in Britain
Loss Of Common Land and Poverty
The loss of common land in the manorial open field system during the time
of British enclosure meant the loss of sources of food, fuel and income lead-
ing many to poverty. Neeson (1993) described how milk from a single cow
turned out onto common pasture or waste totaled about half of a laborers
yearly wages. Income from a calf sold at market would substantially cover
rent and land tax for the year (Neeson, p.311). Corn from four acres of arable
land would feed a family for an entire year.8 Governing of the commons tied

Song 23
the amount of arable land rented to the number of animals allowable to pas-
ture. Sheep, cheaper to buy and maintain than cows, additionally provided
wool, milk and lambs. Supplemental food and surplus income were lost from
game hunting, fishing, berry and nut picking on common woodlands, fallow,
marsh and waste. Common land use provided subsistence and livelihood
in an economy where the overwhelming expense was food (Neeson, p.313).
Sources of fuel, fodder and household materials were lost- dry fallen wood,
dead leaves, furze, peat, reeds, rushes, and gleanings were no longer avail-
able. Comparatively, the loss of fuel sources became more valuable as coal
became an available substitute that was unaffordable for most commoners.

Food Shortages
Food shortages were common during the period of accelerated enclosures
after 1750 from rising market prices, especially from blocked trade during
the American War of Independence from 1775-1783 and Napoleonic Wars
from 1803-1814 (Allen, 1994, p.97; Allen 1999, p. 217).

After 1800, trade fed the expanding British population with rising consump-
tion and demand for cheaper imported goods. But the rising domestic mo-
nopoly grain prices that protected British landowners and merchants from
foreign competition through the Corn Laws of 1815-1846 and the financial
Panic of 1837 led to grievous depression in the hungry forties.

Unemployment grew parallel to rising food prices. As sectorial shifts and
global market conditions shifted around 1760 (Clark, 1998), relative profit-
ability turned in the favor of privatized land9 and enclosures surged as
raising agricultural crops (open fields) shifted to sheep (fenced-in fields) for
wool as a raw good for industrial production. Wool exports were high at this
time although prices varied depending on quality high (Bowden, 1952). As
raising crops was more labor intensive than raising sheep, where only one
shepherd tended an entire flock, unemployment rose. The labor oversup-
ply was compounded by increased population and decreased real wages
that limited the ability to buy food. Total pastoral output increased while
arable10 decreased in the latter half of the 18th century and then switched
the first half of the 19th century (Broadberry et al., 2010, p.43) as raising
crops or livestock shifted depending on prices for corn, wool11 and meat
(Redford, 1964, p.70-71).

Rural-Urban Migration and Marginalization

Rural-urban migration in pursuit of a better livelihood resulted as a third
order effect from the conversion of arable land to pasture based on labor
oversupply, unemployment and poverty. Even with overall population growth
through the 19th century,12 most accounts described emptying villages. Oth-
ers stated that agricultural labor was abundant and that migration was de-
terred by the Poor Laws 160113-183414 and that the rural population was
increasing in an unhealthy fashion (Redford, 1964, p.68). Internment of

24 Projections 11
the poor enacted with the Workhouse Test Act of 1723 aimed to stem rural-
urban migration and relieve urban tax pressure of poor relief but served to
spatially marginalize the growing poor population at the urban periphery as
Green (2010) illustrated in London. Depopulation of rural areas occurred
due to attraction of higher real wages15 in urban manufacturing centers (Red-
ford, 1964, p.67) even though the conversion of land from waste and marsh
to enclosed arable and pasture was labor-intensive (Turner, 1980)

Intense town growth in the postwar years between 1821 and 1831 occurred
coupled with migration to manufacturing centers located in different regions
driven by expansive export growth by sequential concentrations of wool, lin-
en, cotton, and silk goods (Redford, 1964 p.66). An increased flow of raw
materials produced or imported, including cotton imports from the cheap
slave labor from new world plantations (Blackburn cited by Makki & Geisler,
2011, p.4), manufactured and sold domestically and internationally was due
to market growth in international trade and by 1839 textiles totaled 72% of
UK exports (Freeman & Louca, 2002, p.22).

Other factors that affected wage and sticky migration was the influx of Irish
handloom weavers from 1826-1833 that accepted starvation wages and
crowded out the higher skilled British weavers,16 giving local workers false
hope of employment at the factories that stayed open (Redford, p.41-42,
p.125) and in hinterlands surrounding growing towns, where workers were
attracted to higher wages in industry, agricultural workers were scarce and
therefore earned the highest real wages (Redford, p.68).17

Enclosure Policy Arguments and the Fallacy of Privatized Farming

It was rumored that enclosure would double or triple rent (Clark, p.74) but
according to Allen (1994, p, 119) the rent gain of 23% on enclosed land was
attributable to converting waste to productive land and not to higher produc-
tivity. Young in the late 1760s and later Lord Ernle (1936) used the argument
that enclosure of arable land increased farm efficiency and productivity to
influence policy (Allen, 1994). Young professed that agricultural improve-
ment depended on the shift to large-scale farming that would consolidate the
small strips of land (Figure b.optional) farmed by commoners into large crop
areas (cited by Allen, 1999,p. 209). Although there is some debate among
scholars, empirical data showed enclosed land was not more efficient. Al-
lens research showed that small-scale peasant farming was as efficient as
large-scale capitalist farming and in the 1770s common open field farms
were more efficient than enclosed farms (1982, p.950). Although, there may
have been marginal increases in productivity and output, claims for gains
were grossly exaggerated. He illustrated that during the main period of Par-
liamentary Inclosure, agriculture was stagnant in terms of productivity and
output (1999, p.209).

According to Allen (1982, p.37, p.951) enclosure was rather a mechanism of

state sponsored land reform to bring rent from common open field to market

Song 25
price. The main effect of enclosure was to redistribute income from farm-
ers to rich land owners (Yelling cited by Allen, 1982, p.950-951). Wealthy
landowners who benefitted from rent increases from enclosure had political
power and enacted parliamentary policies in their own favor.

Other arguments given by improvers supporting enclosure in the 18th cen-

tury were: adoption of better crops- deterred by collective management of
fields that were dependent on consensus; suppression of animal diseases;
and better control of breeding and overgrazing (Allen, 1994). Common field
practices were not as backward as enclosure advocates claimed, open field
villages adopted new crops when profitable although enclosed villages ad-
opted new methods more fully (Allen, 1994, p.115). Neeson described in de-
tail how commoners livelihood was at stake and for their own best interest,
vigilantly monitored for disease, separated animals from the common herd
when exposed to markets, and bred and pastured rams and bulls separately
(1993, p.122-133). Although Hardin in The Tragedy of the Commons in
1968 used common pasture as an example of overuse, according to Neeson
(2003), English commons were actually a successful example of equitable
distribution of benefits and stemming degradation through stringent stinting
regulations and participation of those who were intimately knowledgeable
in local practices. The accounts of overstocking were typically of rich farm-
ers seeking profit and tactically aimed to reduce the compensation owed to
commoners at enclosure (Neeson, 2003, p. 88).18 The small scale farming
practices and local know-how reflect Ostroms (1990) similarities among en-
during, self-governing CPR institutions.

Land Grabbing in Africa and Ethiopia

Land Grabbing and the Loss Of Common Land
Although Marx first coined the term, land grabbing is defined by White as the
large-scale acquisition of land or land related rights and resources by cor-
porate entities (business, non-profit or public) that creates dispossession of
land, water, forests and other common property resources, their concentra-
tion, privatization and transactions as corporate property- owned or leased,
and in turn the transformation of agrarian labor regimes.19

A report on global land grabbing states that 43% of all large-scale land ac-
quisitions target land already in use for farming by local communities, has a
relatively high population density, is easily accessible by transportation and
is in fact land for which local farmers compete. Land grabbing of forested
land (24% of the deals) and open and closed shrub land/grassland (28%
of the deals) also impact the environment and food security (CDE, 2011,
p.17). The increasing commercial pressure on land, its increasing price,
and the cheap capital offered to foreign-owned capitalist farms favor land
grabbing by foreigners, handicaps domestic producers and crowds out lo-
cal entrepreneurship (De Schutter, 2011; Rahmato, 2011). According to De

26 Projections 11
Schutter (2011, p.1) land grabbing increases susceptibility to food price
shocks; reduces the land and water access that would reduce poverty; and is
destructive to the livelihood of groups depending on common grazing, fish-
ing grounds, and forests. More than a dozen African countries have given
millions of hectares of farmland to foreign investors in the hopes of spurring
agrarian development (Rahmato, 2011, p.2).

According to Rahmato, the Ethiopian government has already transferred

about 3.5 million hectares of land to foreign investors with a similar amount
slated for the next five years (2011, p.25). The nearly 7 million total hectares
of land slated for transfer comprises about 38% of land currently used by
smallholders (2011, p.12) and often has use rights belonging to individu-
als and communities, resulting in smallholder dispossession and threatened
livelihoods (2011, p.4-5). Ascertaining exact amounts of common land given
over to foreign capital is difficult as land registration is an ongoing process.
From 2006 building up to 2008 there was a boom of large-scale land trans-
fers for cut flower exports (2011, p.12). Cotton, food crops (rice, maize,
pulses, oil seeds-sesame) and biofuel crops (palm oil trees, jatropha curcas,
and castor oil trees) are the main investment interests (2011, p.13). Sugar
cane can be used for either food or biofuel.

Poverty, Agricultural Economics and Food Insecurity

Ethiopia, one of the 34 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa of the
49 listed by the United Nations (UN), has the characteristics of: low level
of socio-economic development, low and unequally distributed income, low
productivity and low capital investment based on a largely agrarian economy,
earnings mainly from export of a few primary commodities, little diversifica-
tion into the manufacturing sector, and political instability and conflicts.20
Income per capita is about one third of the current Sub-Saharan average
and about 29% of the rural population (26.8 million people) lives below the
national poverty line21 even though economic growth has been fairly high and
health services have improved in the last decade (Rahmato, 2011, p.3).

Agriculture accounts for half of the GDP and 90% of export earnings of
which coffee is a major source (Assefa, 2007). Crop production of cereals
accounts for a majority of agricultural GDP with livestock production con-
tributing over a quarter as well (Walton, 2006). Smallholders produce 95%
of the agricultural GDP that is predominantly subsistence rain fed farming.22
Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to external global terms-of-trade shocks and
has periodically encountered food shortages, famine and received food aid
from NGOs.23 More than 50% of the gross capital formation of the Gross
National Income (GNI) in Ethiopia is financed by aid. The food crisis of 2006-
2008 showed that African countries that are most reliant on food imports are
the least resilient to food price shocks (FAO, 2009; Zoomers, 2010, p.434).
The complex factors contributing to Ethiopias low development and vulner-
ability are attributed to a combination of: ineffective and inefficient agri-
cultural marketing systems, underdeveloped transport and communications

Song 27
networks, underdeveloped production technologies, limited access of rural
households to support services, environmental degradation, lack of partici-
pation by poor rural people in decisions that affect their livelihoods, climatic
conditions, a lack of basic infrastructure such as health and education facili-
ties, and safe drinking water.24

Rural-Urban Migration from Lack of Productive Land

Lack of available sufficiently productive land is the most common cause of
the complex phenomenon of rural-urban migration as poor populations seek
a means to obtain income and food (UN, 2011). The growing poor urban
population drives expansion of built areas into cheaper agricultural hinter-
land exacerbating the lack of productive land for food production.25 Rural-
urban migration and expanding urbanization exacerbates living conditions
and competition for livelihood for both poor rural and urban populations.26
As residence is a requirement for securing land tenure it may prevent rural
migration (Rahmato, 2011). The periodic food shortages, natural disasters
such as drought, and price spikes in the global food commodities market
increase migration and forced local displacement. Farmland is characterized
by poor soil nutrients27 and is sensitive to degradation and erosion through
agricultural practices that further decrease the supply of productive farm-
land. Land grabbing exacerbates the decreasing supply of productive farm-
land available for domestic livelihood (Rahmato, 2011, p.25).

Environmental Degradation and Natural Resource Overuse

Hardins 1968 The Tragedy of the Commons that linked open-access to
free rider behavior and ecological impacts of overuse, falls short of describ-
ing the complex environmental degradation of the fragile ecosystem of natu-
ral resources in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Ethiopia neither private nor public
ownership of natural resources have stemmed the environmental degrada-
tion now in crisis due to deforestation, overgrazing, soil nutrient depletion,
soil erosion, and desertification that is based on the interdependence of
natural, socioeconomic, and political systems (Taddese, 2001). The great-
est contributor to land erosion is dryland cropping28 while other large-scale
farming practices29 impact the precarious conditions of degradation. Large-
scale farming practices by foreign capitalists, such as monocropping that
induces low nutrient recycling and low soil fertility, further exacerbate envi-
ronmental degradation.

Large-scale farming irrigation systems can reduce the existing water supply
for smallholders and the flooding watershed can be lost when control is given
over to capitalist foreign investors.30 Large-scale farming could also contrib-
ute to increasing water pollution in Africa, as environmental practices are not
well regulated.31 Fighting land degradation, desertification and mitigating
the effects of drought are essential for the economic growth and social prog-
ress of smallholders who are dependent on common resources.32 Capital
investment by farmers, such as tree planting, which is expensive but would
combat erosion, decreases with unsecure tenure (Taddese, 2001, p.822).

28 Projections 11
Political Structure of Land Ownership, Secure Land Tenure and
The structure of land ownership in Ethiopia has historically been tied to the
changing political regime. Under the communist rule of the Marxist Derg
Regime, that via popular uprising in 1974 overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie
Is monarchic rule, the lack of public investment into state nationalized land
resulted in declines in productivity, soil degradation, erosion and an incapac-
ity to support the growing population (Deininger, et al., 2007). After the Derg
Regime was overthrown in 199133 following the end of aid contributions from
the fallen Soviet Regime, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic
Front (EPRDF) enacted reforms in 1997 and 2005 claiming federal owner-
ship of all land that then transferred rights to lease it to regional authorities.
The Ethiopian government claims that unused or public lands that do not
belong to anyone can be used for the greater national good to bring in hard
currency by efficient large-scale foreign investors.

Security of tenure, as Rahmato stated, is not robust as centralized state

ownership can remove landholders at any time, does so without their par-
ticipation, and even when compensation is paid it is unfair and inadequate
(2011, p.6-7). Peasants fear the loss of land that they consider common
property, its resources, and means of livelihood (2011, p. 21). They value
prime forestland34 more than possible new employment opportunities that
are generated when it is cleared.35 Regional differences play a large role in
land tenure and the success of the land registration process. Traditional
common land requires first-time registration and a large amount of disputes
have been reported (2011, p. 5).

Rahmato concluded, The state uses its hegemonic authority over the land to
dispossess smallholders and their communities without consulting them and
without their consent (2011, p.5). The problem lies in the political structure
where the control of all resources belong to the state or the ruling party- who
are ultimately responsible for land grabbing, but build a coalition through lo-
cal administrators and public agents who hold the authority to lease it- which
serves to enhance the political advantage of the state (Rahmato, 2011, p.5).
Peasants are threatened to only get access to land if they support local
administers in the kebele and woreda where most rural people vote based
on ethnic loyalties. Infringements on the right to a secret vote rarely lead
to prosecutions. Smallholders lose trust in their local authorities that are
complicit in investment decisions that lead to dispossession and their loss
of livelihood.

The political hegemony of an unfulfilled democracy (Pausewang et al.,

2002, p.230) and civic marginalization (Rahmato, 2011, p.26) leaves little
political voice for smallholders, chance to build a democracy though po-
litical competition, or shift power from bottom-up organizations without an
independent material base (Pausewang et al., 2002, 239-242).36 As White

Song 29
stated, Like all agrarian strugglesin all regions of the world it is at the local
level that organized social movements are relatively thin and weak (2012,
p.637). Furthermore, civil society institutions have little political voice since
the dominant source of public information is government-controlled media
(Rahmato, 2011, p. 7).

The progressive widening of the gulf between the social classes due to a high
dependence on land resources will increase social and economic inequality
(Rahmato, 2003). The haves and have-nots in the rural population will be in-
creasingly marginalized within the states redefinition of the agrarian struc-
ture (Rahmato, 2011, p.5, 25). While income inequality is low overall, the
Gini coefficient rose from 29.8 to 33.6 indicating increased inequality from
2005- 201237 parallel with increased land grabbing. The increasing income
divide confirms Harveys premise that the redistribution of capital from the
masses to the rich is characteristic of neo-liberal policy and domestic actors
benefit from neo-colonial processes of accumulation (2006, p.43).

Economic Development Arguments and the Neo-Liberal Policy of

Accumulation by Dispossession
Africa would stand to benefit from its abundant potential farmland and large
potential for returns on productivity improvements from increasing global:
population growth and demand for food, expanding urbanization, and rising
incomes (Rahmato, 2011, p.5). The national Ethiopian strategy to capital-
ize on global market demand hopes to stimulate economic development by
accelerating private sector commercial investment to switch from peasant
cultivation to large-scale capitalist farming, increasing agricultural modern-
ization and increasing land for cultivation. But its neo-liberal structure favor-
ing foreign investors of large-scale land transactions that produce high value
agricultural products such as flowers or vegetables (Rahmato, 2011, p.4-8)38
generates little benefit in the domestic economy. Rahmato concluded Expe-
rience in other countries has shown that under proper regulation, domestic
capital is more likely to act in ways that are socially responsible than its
foreign counterpart (2011, p.27).

The goals laid out in the Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development
to End Poverty (PASDEP)39 are advocated by the World Bank and adminis-
tered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD).40 Re-
gional governments facilitate dispossession through transfers of land into a
federal consolidated land bank. According to Rahmato, there is no evidence
that MOARD objectives are being met, the costs outweigh any benefits gained
and governmental regulations are not structured to meet these goals (2011,
p.13). The highest rent charged in 25-50 year leases is less than 135 Ethio-
pian Birr ($10.47 in 2009 dollars) per hectare per year (2011, p.15). Priority
for exports and foreign earnings that preclude benefits to domestic markets
are structured through tax exemptions that include: duty free input imports,
repatriation of profits and dividends, principal and interest payments on
external loans, proceeds from technology transfers, and asset sales in the

30 Projections 11
event of liquidation. There are no apparent formal provisions made to con-
tribute to domestic food security, domestic labor quotas, environmental pro-
tection, infrastructure, tech transfer, energy provision, or social investments
(2011, p.25). The technology gap between high-tech capitalist farmers and
peasants is so large; no achievable benefits to smallholders are affordable or
transferrable (2011, p.25). The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) claim
that- leasing out land for bioethanol and biodiesel crops would not interfere
with food production or jeopardize food security- is dubious (2011, p.10).

Cooperatives and CPRs in a Combined Model41

In both the historical case of England and recently in Africa, cooperative
movements arose when the multitude lacking access to basic needs was
likely to benefit by pooling resources to gain market power. The lack of trust
in a government that could provide basic needs and politically pandered to
the capital leverage of global markets left little alternative except collective
action. Recently called out by the UN International Year of Cooperatives in
2012,42 cooperatives foster access to private competition, improve the rural
economy, promote fair globalization and have the potential of merging eco-
nomic and social development goals with their invaluable contribution to
poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration and their
strengths of the cooperative business model as an alternative means of do-
ing business and furthering socioeconomic development.43

Historically, the cooperative movement in England, started in 1844 by the

Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, enabled the multitude to gain ac-
cess to food and essential goods at affordable prices. Through collective
action, a material base for political change was accumulated that effectually
resisted44 the internal effects of industrialized globalization and the politi-
cal hegemony of the wealthy class. As a successful example of a consumer
cooperative gaining competitive market power, while incorporating socio-
economically sustainable principles45 that equitably distributed returns and
promoted participation, the number of cooperatives grew until the end of
the 19th century when they consolidated.46

Recently, Ethiopian farming cooperatives have grown to a membership of over

4.5 million people47 with well-known success stories such as the Sidama and
Yirgafcheffe cooperative coffee unions (Assefa, 2007). The renaissance48 of
producer, marketing, savings and credit unions, and multi-purpose farmer
cooperatives aid competitive market access, social integration and establish
structures that can foster democracy and extend to provide educational ser-
vices. Marginalization of the landless, especially of vulnerable populations,49
has been mitigated through cooperatives, especially when including assign-
ment of group rights to common property to confront resource degradation
(Tamrat, 2010).

While economic development in Ethiopia may be increasing per capita, pov-

erty reduction of the worse off in rural areas, national food security, land

Song 31
degradation, migration and marginalization remain highly dependent on
the secure tenure of productive land. Registering more common land rights
to local villages and collectively governing productive inputs through CPRs
would help to secure land tenure for shared use and returns instead of for
corporations, public, or foreign capital; foster participation to strengthen
democracy; and promote agricultural practices that are ecologically sustain-
able. Ostroms case studies showed that CPRs have been an enduring, ro-
bust form of organization with an inherent incentive structure favoring the
implementation of practices that promote long-term over short-term gain
(1990, p.3).

Combining cooperatives with CPRs would integrate socioeconomic develop-

ment with securing land tenure (Figure 1). An example of a combined model
where rural common land was successfully registered for a cooperative vil-
lage with international support is the woreda Libokemkem for Buranest Ru-
ral Town, designated the Amhara Model Town in 2010.50 Agency support
(capital) was matched by cooperative input (labor) in a participatory plan-
ning process that organized projects including: bridge and road infrastruc-
ture, flood control and rainwater harvesting, with housing, renewable energy,
farmer education and other services in later phases.

Figure 1. Accumulation by dispossession processes within a sustainable development

framework where the dimensions of economic, social and environmental development are
addressed by a combined model of cooperatives and CPRs.

32 Projections 11
The similarity in both cases of the relentless quest of capitalism to privatize
everything through processes of accumulation by dispossession51 is clearly
differentiated by the historical-geographical conditions surrounding histori-
cal England and contemporary Ethiopia. While historically, the external forc-
es of globalization were manifest as internal class struggle, the contempo-
rary form of neo-liberal globalization through land grabbing is embedded in
complex configurations of capitalist overaccumulation52 as a spatial fix from
foreign territories and likely as in the case of China, the formation of foreign
class power (Harvey, 2006).

Accumulation by Dispossession: Alternatives and Conditions for

Sustainable Urban Planning

Alternatives and organization

Alternative politics to failed neo-liberalism form an impetus for a resur-
gence of mass movements voicing egalitarian political demands and seeking
economic justice, fair trade and greater economic security (Harvey, 2006,
p.66). Alternative planning depends on addressing alternative politics tak-
ing into account the complexity of urban systems that concentrate goods,
services, distributional infrastructure and human capacities yielding syner-
gies. Planning is a natural platform that synthesizes and organizes the mul-
tiple forces forming our environment, cross cutting through the physical and
social domain. Land as a factor of production needs to be considered as
an input that couples the production of food and the production of space
simultaneously although disciplines and professional expertise often split
along lines of urban and agricultural development and can decompose them
as isolated systems.

International mobilization
If the relentless neo-liberal drive for new resources (and capitalist class pow-
er formation according to Harvey, 2006) by foreign lands that externalizes
the negative impacts of dispossession to home territories in Africa, were
resisted then organizational efficacy depends on concerted international mo-
bilization and sustained multi-scalar struggle.53

Practical midterm targets

If the long-term nature of implementing globally embedded transformation
(e.g. global climate change initiatives), then practical action targeting mid-
term improvement is needed to mitigate the exacerbated direct and indirect
impacts of land grabbing. The overarching goal remains to integrate eco-
nomic, social and environmental aspects into development to bring living
conditions for the most vulnerable populations in African LDCs to a subsis-
tence level while improving their security and potential for livelihood.

Song 33
Sustainable development
Sustainable development in Ethiopia depends on engaging interdisciplinary
planning that simultaneously addresses socio-economic and environmental
development to generate basic needs such as food and livelihood, to secure
land, to deter rural-urban migration, and to foster democracy. It depends
on promoting transfer of land and resource rights to rural communities;
building on the strengths of their existing social relations; developing organi-
zational capacity, knowledge and technology transfer, education and health
services, complementary industrial capabilities, and environmentally sus-
tainable farming practices.

As regional market towns have an important part to play in the democratiza-

tion of Ethiopia, are one of the fastest-growing demographic sectors since
the mid 1960s (Pausewang et al., 2002, p.64), and are local attractors of
economic activity- they are logical sites to condense regional centralized
services.54 Economies of scale and scope play a critical role in agricultural
development to target rural development for surrounding farmers with im-
proved infrastructure to distribute supplies, health services and farmer edu-
cation (Mellor, 1966, p.345; Juma, 2011, p.114). Innovative projects and
research have tested the potentials of urban resources but large-scale imple-
mentation remains a challenge (e.g. transforming solid urban waste (SUD)
into fertilizer, Kiba, et.al., 2011). Synergies could form by focusing capacity
building and endogenous development efforts on market towns while simul-
taneously securing tenure of surrounding farmland.

Further study is needed on combining CPRs with cooperatives or endogenous

developments. More empirical data is needed measuring the correlation of
foreign land grabbing in Africa and the magnitude of its impacts on: securing
and registering land, common resources, food insecurity, land degradation,
migration, income inequality, and the ability of agricultural cooperatives to
secure common resources and implement sustainable agricultural practice.

Socio-economic sustainability
If aid has the potential to transform the political economy then its efficacy
depends on increasing the capital base of the poor. Supporting capacity
building, political empowerment, and domestic markets (food aid reforms
that foster local developing economies instead of subsidizing production
surpluses from developed countries) depends on accountability to avoid fa-
voring the existing capital of elites and temptation for corruption.

Incentive structures based on matching capital investment by developmental

aid agencies with securing collective land rights for indigenous communities
(as in the Buranest example) could build robust resistance to neo-liberal
national land policies if local organizations are supported by international
efforts to retain and defend land rights. Intervening with organizational and
capital support directly to local communities could initiate resistance to the
dominant forms of neo-liberal accumulation empowering equitable distribu-

34 Projections 11
tion and collective action. Overwriting the negative connotations of agricul-
tural cooperatives forced on the population in Derg regimes process of vil-
lagization could occur with more successful examples of a combined model.

Scalable capacity building based on the existing multi-level local, regional

and federation organizational structure of cooperatives55 would use devel-
opment resources efficiently. With inherent checks and balances, returns
directly flow to the poor. Economic security and food security could be lever-
aged through cooperatives to recuperate human rights politics (Harvey,
2006, p.57). Capacity building through endogenous development supported
by joint efforts of international, public and private organizations would ben-
efit farmers and increase local knowledge capital56 but may miss opportu-
nities that build collective participation and self-help skills for farmers to
sustainably organize land, water and food systems and secure land tenure.

Social sustainability
If the production of space is to benefit the dispossessed and eventually check
neo-liberal accumulation, the dialectic of space at the levels of absolute
(fixed land use rights), relative (flows of capital investment), and relational
space (socio-economic and political) needs to be considered simultaneously
(Harvey, 2006, p.135). Combining multi-purpose cooperatives (agriculture,
housing, credit and savings) with CPRs (water, land, forestry, fisheries) in a
value chain would be more efficient and effective for communities, improve
chances of extending social services57 (education, industrial transformation/
diversification), foster entrepreneurial business activity and resist political
marginalization. Partnering with local organizations in Ethiopia would pro-
vide knowledge of operations at a local level and encourage participatory

Class power formation, as the inevitable outcome of accumulation by dis-

possession and land grabbing, needs to be curbed at the global level by
international mobilization while transferring land rights to communities to
avert domestic capitalist accumulation at the local level. If Harveys asser-
tion holds true then the mission of the neoliberal state to create a good
business climate that heralds capital accumulation as the only way to foster
growth and eradicate poverty by seeking privatization of assets would de-
clare competition but open the market to centralized capital and monopoly
power (2006, p.25).

Environmental sustainability
If the alternative politics of reclaiming the commons movement is a re-
sponse to historical neo-colonial struggles (Harvey, 2006, p.64) then contem-
porary neo-liberal processes of land grabbing could follow a similar path. A
combined model could avert capitalist privatization of land and environmen-
tal degradation if community use rights are secured. The model combines
what Harvey calls alternatives and social movements: local experiments
with new production and consumption systems with different social relations

Song 35
and ecological practices (2006, p.64) and pragmatic solutions to immedi-
ate problems of social or political exclusions or particular environmental
degradations and injustices(2006, p.111).

Acknowledgement of accumulation by dispossession in planning

Acknowledging the failed utopian project of neo-liberal accumulation by dis-
possession in Sub-Saharan Africa by planning means: understanding modes
and channels of capitalist accumulation and focusing attention directly on
tactics for local participation and secure tenure; engaging international de-
velopment organizations across sectors, who conversely engage planners, to
focus investments from aid, capital and research into scalable, practical and
synergistic planning alternatives that are structured to build the capacity
of the rural poor; simultaneously addressing the interdependent economic,
social and environmental aspects of sustainable development through terri-
torial relationships of land, food, capital, built and sociopolitical space; and
recognizing the organizational complexity involved, sustained multi-scalar
struggle necessary on all fronts, and influence of planning with its boundary
of delimitation.

Authors note: The time to prepare a portion of this research was generously
granted by Prof. Dr. Marc Anglil, Chair for Architecture and Design, Institute of
Urban Design, Network City Landscape, at the Department of Architecture, ETH
Zrich. The cooperatives research was supported in part by an ETH North-South
Centre Programme and Partnership Development Grant.

36 Projections 11
1 Debord, G. (1994). The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith.
New York: Zone p.121.

2 Figures from: http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk

3 With the dawn of the Tudor period began the general movement which gradually
transformed England into a mercantile country. The amount of money in actual use
was increasing; men possessed more capital, could borrow it more easily, and lay it
out to greater advantage. Commerce permeated national life. Feudalism was dead
or dying, and trade was climbing to its throne. The Middle Ages were passing into
modern times. (Ernle, 1936)

4 A longer period of accounting for the first and last Parliamentary Acts between
1604-1914 comprises 5265 Parliamentary Acts (Turner, 1980, p.32).

5 Figures from: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/


6 Addis Ababa with 2.7 mil. of the population had a growth rate of 2.1% while
agricultural regions such as Oromia with 27 mil. and SNNP with 15 mil. that are
predominantly agricultural producers, had a higher growth rate than Addis Ababa
of 2.9%. Amhara with 17 mil. had a growth rate of 1.7%. Population figures from
Summary and Statistical Report of the 2007 (1994-2007) Population and Housing
Census, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Population Census Commission
Addis Ababa, 2008.

7 Figures from: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/notes/2009/N2868.


8 In Medieval times, 12 acres were needed to produce enough corn to feed a family
for a year. By 1800 the yield of corn had increased so that only 4 acres were needed
to produce the same amount. Crop rotation was part of the sustainable agricultural
practice that increased productivity with Spring planting, Fall planting and a field left
fallow for regeneration of soil nutrients. A fourth replenishing fodder crop such as
alfalfa or clover was added later that in turn provided rich manure for fertilization. Ja-
cobs attributed the population increase described by Malthus as being possible from
increased soil fertility and livestock (Neeson, 1993, p.13; Jacobs, 1969, p.16-17).

9 About 80% of the costs were real investments on land improvement- fences, roads,
and drainage. They were made cost effective through increases in rent, cost of capi-
tal, and real rent relative to wages (Clark, 1998, p.100).

10 In absolute terms, more land was arable by 1850 because much of the contribu-
tion was from converted waste (Allen, 1994, p.117).

11 See Ernle (1936) for Tudor enclosure that was mainly due to the growing wool
trade that substituted pasture for tillage and sheep for corn.

12 Increasing population followed plague outbreaks, poor harvests in the 1590s and
rising food prices that led to social unrest, and food and enclosure riots in 1598

Song 37
(Slack, 1984, p.4). According to Slack in the 16th century, population increased
faster than productivity and prices rose faster than wages so the purchasing power
of labor dropped about 25% until around 1620. The previous impoverishment of
farmers due to lack of secure tenure contributed to the growing poor population.
The heavy migration of the large class of underemployed and working poor, made
vagrancy visibly threatening. Under the reign of Elizabeth the underemployed poor
and vagrant were accused of laziness and stigmatized. The Old Poor Law of 1601
aimed to promote social welfare by turning over administration of the poor from
overburdened governments to church parishes.

13 Laws leading up the 1601 Poor Law include the 1547, 1551, 1563, 1572, 1576
and 1598 Tudor statutes that developed poor relief, taxation and outlawed begging
and vagrancy for the able bodied (Slack, 1984, p.1; Snell, 1992, p.161).

14 The 1834 Act was seen to amend regulation of poor relief seen as the pauper
supporting structure that subsidized low wages through the Speenhamland system.

15 Around this time in 1817 Ricardos seminal theory of comparative advantage that
articulated labor, mobile through migration, would produce real returns to owners of
manufacturing or land depending on whichever input was more intensively used for
traded goods.

16 Some skilled laborers did not migrate, for instance when handloom weaving in
Manchester was replaced by power looms in Lancashire.

17 See Jacobs (1969) chapter Cities first- rural development later and Ricardos
real wages.

18 Neeson (2003) gave a detailed account of how in the case of a threatened situa-
tion pastures were simply stinted. The manorial courts and by-laws strictly defined
and punished overstocking of livestock on common pasture. Complaints of exces-
sive rent and subsequent overstocking of commons were reported in 1520 in Tudor
England, (Blanchard, 1970, p.439).

19 Marx first coined the term, Land grabbing on a great scale is the first step in
creating a field for the establishment of agriculture on a great scale. Hence this sub-
version of agriculture puts on, at first, more the appearance of a political revolution
(Marx 1906 [1867] Capital, Vol. I., p. 470 cited by White et. al., 2012, p.621).

20 Figures from the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed
Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States,

21 Figures from International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD, http://www.


22 Figures from International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD, http://www.


23 Ethiopia has had severe food shortages and famines, in 1985/1986 hundreds of
thousands of people died, in 2002/2003 13 mil. rural people were starving. In 2009,
22% of the rural population and were dependent on food and safety net programs,

38 Projections 11
the number has dropped to 8 mil. rural people. Undernourishment rose in Africa
from 2007 to 2008 from 220 mil. to 240 mil. people (Rahmato, 2011, p.3).

24 International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD, http://www.ruralpovertypo-


25 Country wide only one sixth of the population lives in urban centers but with 77
million inhabitants a large absolute number lives in cities with 80% in substandard
housing. Cities grew at 4.1% compared to 2.7% overall with values differing depend-
ing on region, 2008 figures from http://www.unhabitat.org.

26 Basic needs such as housing and food account for 50% of median income in Ad-
dis Ababa and 79% in Bahir Dar (Planning and Development Cooperative Internation-
al PADCO, 1998 Figures cited by Asefa, 2007). In comparison, 10.3% of income is
spent on food in Switzerland (World Health Organization Nutritional Stunting 2003-
2008 cited by Washington State University). For the urban poor, income available
for food is decreased by the high price of housing driven by short supply. In Addis
Ababa, the capacity of municipal governments to face affordable housing shortages
is overwhelmed (Asefa, 2007); a systemic problem contributing to slum formation
and exacerbated by rural-urban migration.

27 Ethiopian soils are nutrient deficient and cannot sustain high crop yields unless
fertilized (FAO, 2006).

28 According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, two thirds of Africa

consists of desert or drylands, where three quarters of land is already classified to
differing degrees under the precarious condition of degraded. http://www.unccd.int/

29 Other large-scale farming practices: for crops- ploughing on steep slopes induces
soil erosion, burning dung for fuel instead of returning nutrients to the soil as fertil-
izer contributes to low soil fertility, while for raising livestock- using leftover crop
stubble for winter feeding leaves no ground cover and contributes to erosion, hooves
destroy vegetation and compacts the soil so water can not infiltrate which causes
more sedimentation and erosion (Taddese, 2001, p.820-821)

30 http://farmlandgrab.org/post/print/20147

31 Pollution is defined by salinization, microbiological contamination, eutrophi-

cation, excess nutrients, acidification, metal pollutants, toxic wastes, saltwater
contamination, thermal pollution, and increases in total suspended solids, as well as
natural pollutants (such as arsenic and fluoride) (Rosegrant, 2009, p.209).

32 http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/rural-poverty-portal/country/home/tags/

33 See Jembere & Woldemelak (2011) Preface and Chapter Three: Social
Transformation. The socialist Derg regime under the leadership of Mengistu Haile
Mariam formed two periods: 1974-1987 comprised the Provisional Military Admin-
istrative Council (PMAC) and the 1987 Constitution formed by the Workers Party of
Ethiopia (WPE); 1987-1991 comprised the Peoples Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
(PDRE). The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) established in 1991

Song 39
is the current legal structure of the country, established under the Constitution of
1994, when the EPRDF was voted into power under Meles Zenawi.

34 For an account of deforestation in Ethiopia see James McCann, (1997). The Plow
and the Forest, Narratives of Deforestation in Ethiopia 1840-1992, Environmental
History, p.138-159.35 See Lucky Exports in the case study by Rahmato, 2011, p23.

36 See: Conclusions in Pausewang et al., 2002; James C. McCann, Prospects for

Democracy, Agro-ecology and Civil Society: The election in Amhara Region, Ethiopias
Rural/Urban Hinterland in Pausewang et al., 2002.

37 Figures from http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/ and http://data.worldbank.org

38 See Rahmato (2011, p.9) for policy documents: The Ministry of Finance and
Economic Development MOFAD 2006 Document Ethiopia: Building Progress: A Plan
for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP). Addis Ababa,
September.vv The Agricultural Development Policy, Plan for Accelerated and Sustain-
able Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) covers the period 2005-2010. Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia FDRE 2002a : Re-Enactment of the Investment
Proclamation. Proclamation No. 280, Negarit Gazeta, Addis Ababa, July 2003a: A
Proclamation to Amend the Investment Re-Enactment Proclamation No. 280/2002.
Proclamation No. 375, Federal Negarit Gazeta, Addis Ababa, October.

39 Summarized: (1) produce export crops and hence increase the countrys foreign
earnings; expand production of crops needed for agro-industry such as cotton and
sugar cane, (2) create employment opportunities in the localities concerned, (3) ben-
efit local communities through the construction of infrastructure and social assets
such as health posts, schools, access to clean water, (4) provide the opportunity for
technology transfer, (5) promote energy security.

40 In 2010, The Council of Ministers designated MOARD as the lead agency respon-
sible for land transfers. Over 5000 hectares were consolidated from regions (Rah-
mato, 2011, p.10).

41 The combined model of multi-purpose cooperatives built upon CPRs was devel-
oped for the Buranest Rural Town Project in Amhara, Ethiopia with village partici-
pation. It is in the process of being established. It was proposed for research by a
consortium of academic and professional contributors involved with the ETH North-
South Centre Programme and Partnership Development Grant and Swiss Programme
for Research on Global Issues for Development Pre-proposal on Thematically Open
Research in 2012 at the Chair of Prof. Dr. Marc Anglil.

42 http://social.un.org/coopsyear/

43 http://social.un.org/index/Cooperatives.aspx

44 Earlier instances of resistance to enclosure include the Diggers and Levelers of

mid 17th century England, Rousseau in 1755, and those outlined in Neeson (1993)
Chapter Resisting Enclosure.

45 http://www.ica.coop/coop/principles.html), http://ica.coop/en/what-co-op/
history-co-operative-movement, http://ica.coop/en/what-co-op/co-operative-identity-

40 Projections 11
Cooperatives: 3 Values and 7 Principles. 3 Values: Honesty, Openness, Social Re-
sponsibility. 1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership. 2nd Principle: Demo-
cratic Member Control. 3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation. 4th Principle:
Autonomy and Independence. 5th Principle: Education, Training and Information. 6th
Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives. 7th Principle: Concern for Community.

46 See Holyoake, The History of the Rochdale Pioneers at http://www.malcsbooks.


47 Cooperative Union distribution by region: Oromia 39.9%, Amhara 23.1%, Tigra

16.1% (Emana, 2009). The Amhara region had 24 multipurpose cooperative unions
in 2007 (Emana, 2009) with 588 affiliated primary cooperatives (Veerakumaran,

48 See Develtere et al., 2008.

49 Women who may not be eligible to lease land are considered especially vulner-
able to poverty. The Amhara region has more female than male cooperative members
citing Annual Report on Cooperatives for the year 2004/2005 (Develtere et al., 2008,

50 See http://www.nestown.org/content/buranest-town-project-amhara-model-town

51 Comment from anonymous reviewer.

52 Chinas infrastructural projects import foreign capital and labor into Ethiopia. See
Delz, S. (30.04.2012). Development At All Costs. Urban Mutations on the Edge Re-
search Seminar. Lecture conducted from the Chair of Prof. Dr. Marc Anglil, Depart-
ment of Architecture ETH, Zrich. http://www.angelil.arch.ethz.ch/?g=genfe331b2f8

53 Comment from anonymous reviewer.

54 See section Peasant farms serviced by large-scale serving agencies in Mellor,

1996, p.373.

55 See Emana, 2009.

56 Exploring diversification of income through core support strategies of endog-

enous development that focus on knowledge acquisition (CECIK, 2010, p.12).
Endogenous Development (ED) can be understood as localized change that is es-
sentially initiated from within communities, mobilizes and harnesses local resources,
and retain benefits within the locality. It consists of a set of collective capacities to
undertake local initiatives that are determined, led, and controlled by local people
and communities, to improve well-being, that draws from both internal and external
resources. Endogenous development is based on local peoples own criteria of de-
velopment, and takes into account not just the material, but also the social, cultural
and spiritual well-being of peoples.

57 Comment from Peter Schmid, President Allegemeine Baugenossenschaft Zrich

ABZ, Working Meeting 14.05.2012.

Song 41
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Song 45
46 Projections 11
An Insiteful Comparison: Contentious
Politics in Liquefied Natural Gas Facility

Hilary Schaffer Boudet

Oregon State University

Mobilization against proposals for industrial facilities has long puzzled
researchers and planners. I focus on three factors drawn from the study of
social movements threat, political opportunity and resources to explain
opposition to thirteen proposals for liquefied natural gas facilities in the U.S.
Findings indicate that low threat projects in communities with low political
opportunity and limited resources attract little opposition and are approved.
More threatening projects in communities with limited internal resources
attract opposition from outsiders and result in failed projects. Finally, two
pathways result in successful, widespread opposition: either the combina-
tion of a high threat project in a community with high political opportunity
or a project proposed in a community with internal resources.

citizen participation; energy; politics and society; facility siting;

Boudet 47
Mobilization against proposals for large industrial facilities or locally un-
wanted land uses (LULUs) hazardous waste disposal sites, landfills, power
plants, etc. has long puzzled researchers, policy makers, planners, propo-
nents and activists. Through an in-depth analysis of two proposals for lique-
fied natural gas (LNG) offload terminals1 in California, Boudet and Ortolano
(2010) showed that three factors, drawn largely from the study of social
movements, could be used to explain mobilization against LULUs: (1) the
potential risk posed by the proposal (i.e., threat) (2) the openness of the
decision-making structure associated with the proposal (i.e., political op-
portunity) and (3) the affected communitys resources.2 The rush to site LNG
in the early 2000s, which resulted in more than 50 proposals (of which only
seven were built), provides an ideal laboratory to understand opposition to
large-scale energy infrastructure. Companies propose projects to which regu-
lators and communities respond, resulting in a race among companies to
obtain permits and begin construction prior to market saturation (McAdam
and Boudet 2012; Boudet 2011). Currently, the siting of shale extraction and
LNG facilities in the U.S. is following a similar course to LNG. Thus, under-
standing the dynamics of opposition to LNG can provide important insights
for similar races to site energy infrastructure.

I expand the analysis in Boudet and Ortolano (2010) in three ways. First, I
more thoroughly investigate the role of external resources, in terms of both
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and state officials, in opposition ef-
forts. Second, I examine mobilization against eleven additional LNG propos-
als from around the United States. Unlike in Boudet and Ortolano (2010),
my sample contains examples of both successful and unsuccessful propos-
als, allowing for connections to be made between mobilization and project
outcome. Third, I devise a methodology that allows for the study of a larger
number of cases, while maintaining the richness of in-depth fieldwork. In
doing so, I develop ways to measure the difficult concepts of threat, political
opportunity, resources and mobilization using readily-available data sources
validated by fieldwork in each community. Such an approach paves the way
for future applications of this framework to studies containing a larger num-
ber of cases.

My examination of thirteen LNG proposals generates three major hypoth-

eses that merit additional exploration in future research. First, low threat
projects in communities with limited access to decision makers (low political
opportunity) and limited resources attract little, mainly local, opposition and
are approved and often built. Second, even in communities with relatively
limited resources, more threatening projects attract opposition from outsid-
ers. To the extent these projects are located in communities with better ac-
cess to decision makers (higher political opportunity), opposition develops.
The result is failed projects, either through rejection by regulatory officials

48 Projections 11
or withdrawal by the company. Third, high resource communities launch suc-
cessful opposition efforts, regardless of threat or access to decision mak-
ers. These findings point to the important role played by external NGOs and
state officials in opposition efforts against threatening projects, particularly
in communities with limited internal resources.

The paper proceeds as follows. I first briefly summarize the relevant litera-
ture. Then, I provide information about my research methods and variable
measurement. Finally, I discuss the community response exemplified by my
cases and how the abovementioned factors relate to mobilization and project

Relevant literature
I draw on two sets of literature for this analysis: (1) studies of facility siting
and NIMBY response and (2) studies of social movements. Both of these
literatures have been reviewed extensively elsewhere. The literature on fa-
cility siting and NIMBY response has been reviewed, for example, by Rabe
(1994), Boholm (2004), Lesbirel and Shaw (2005), Schively (2007), Boudet
(2010) and Boudet and Ortolano (2010). And the literature on social move-
ments has been reviewed by McAdam et al. (2001), Caniglia and Carmin
(2005), Buechler (2007), Boudet and Ortolano (2010), and McAdam and
Boudet (2012). My analysis draws on the political process model of social
movements, which, as shown by Boudet and Ortolano (2010), can serve as
a unifying framework of the factors and processes at work in driving opposi-
tion to LULUs.

In developing the political process model, McAdam (1999[1982]) identified

three factors which are necessary for movement emergence: (1) threat, (2)
political opportunity and (3) resources. These factors map onto three key
factors identified in the literature on facility siting and NIMBY response: (1)
project risks, (2) decision-making processes and (3) community character-
istics. For this reason, I draw on the political process model to structure my
analysis of thirteen attempts to site LNG facilities.3 I discuss each of these
factors in more detail below.

The siting of an industrial facility presents the possibility of many different
grievances or threats (e.g., to public safety, health, environment, quality of
life) around which a community can mobilize. In the technical and planning
literature, these aspects of a facility are often referred to as risks (Boholm
2004; Freudenburg 2004; Schively 2007). Following Almeida (2003), threat
is defined as probability that existing benefits will be taken away or new
harms inflicted if challenging groups fail to act collectively (347). Local en-
vironmental action is often initiated in response to a perceived health risk or
threat (Carmin 2003; Freudenburg 1984; Walsh and Warland 1983; Walsh,
Warland, and Smith 1993). Moreover, the existence of a threat is particularly
important in polities where there is some expectation of state respon-

Boudet 49
siveness and few formal barriers to mobilization as in the U.S. (McAdam
1999[1982], xi).

Political opportunity
Social movement scholars also point to aspects of the broader political
context, or political opportunity structure, as important determinants of
movement emergence (Eisinger 1973; Meyer 2004). Theorists in this tra-
dition suggest that movements emerge when political elites become more
receptive or vulnerable to movement demands (Eisinger 1973; Jenkins and
Perrow 1977; Tarrow 1998; Tilly 1978). This receptivity may result from
openness in the institutionalized political system, internal divisions among
political elites, or increasing power associated with movement groups (Mc-
Adam 1996). Similarly, researchers on facility siting have highlighted the
importance of fair procedures for decision-making and citizen input in deter-
mining attitudes toward proposals (Freudenburg 2004; Frey and Oberholzer-
Gee 1996; Kunreuther, Fitzgerald, and Aarts 1993).

In recent years, the concept of political opportunity structure has come un-
der increasing criticism. On one hand, it is seen as too broad, subsuming
many conceptually different ideas, mechanisms and measurements (Gam-
son and Meyer 1996; Goodwin and Jasper 1999; Meyer and Minkoff 2004).
On the other, it is too narrow, focusing predominantly on state actors without
regard for other important economic institutions e.g., corporations, banks
who have increasingly become targets of activism (Schurman 2004; Pel-
low 2007). Here, I address the first criticism by limiting my definition of the
concept to refer to how open the institutionalized political system is to the
claims of movement actors. However, this decision limits my ability to ad-
dress the second criticism. Future work should examine the role of indus-
try opportunity structures (Schurman 2004) on community mobilization
against siting proposals.

Resource mobilization theory within social movements scholarship suggests
that resources, both from within the community and outside the community,
supply groups with the capability to organize and take action (Carmin 2003;
McCarthy and Zald 1977). I consider each type of resources internal and
external in turn.

Internal (local) resources

Both organizational capacity and past experience opposing industrial pro-
posals proved to be important in the two in-depth case studies by Boudet
and Ortolano (2010). Research on individual attitudes toward LULU propos-
als has shown that higher income, younger and more educated homeowners
are more likely to oppose LULUs (Dear 1992; Hunter and Leyden 1995).
Moreover, Freudenberg and Gramling (1993) found education level to be the
only consistent determining factor of individual oppositional attitudes to
LULUs. Education affords communities important internal resources (e.g.,

50 Projections 11
engineers and scientists, who understand technical issues, or lawyers, who
are familiar with legal procedures). In sum, Carmin (2003) describes, four
types of resourcesfrequently associated with local action and responses
to community threats: organizations, funding, information and experience
(45). I consider all four factors when measuring the internal resources avail-
able in each community.

External (nonlocal) resources

Making a distinction between internal and external resources, resource mo-
bilization scholars argue that, particularly for groups with limited resources,
external resources are critical for mobilization (McCarthy and Zald 1977).
Moreover, many scholars view the social appropriation of existing organiza-
tions into movement activities as particularly important (McAdam, Tarrow,
and Tilly 2001; Tarrow 1998; Walsh, Warland, and Smith 1997). Thus, I fo-
cus my measure of external resources on the appropriation of both nonlocal
governmental officials and NGOs.

Research Approach
Case selection
I examined thirteen LNG proposals from across the country. The three Cali-
fornia cases (Mare Island Energy Project, Long Beach LNG and Cabrillo Port)
were included as easily accessible case studies for in-depth data collection
and fieldwork. Newly proposed energy projects, other than the three Califor-
nia cases, were selected randomly from the CSA Illumina Digests of Environ-
mental Impact Statements (EISs). This database catalogues announcements
related to EISs from the Federal Register. Almost all LNG proposals have re-
quired an EIS.4 The population of projects from which the sample was drawn
included only projects that completed a FEIS between 2004 and 2007. Of
course, this excluded projects like the Mare Island Energy Project that were
announced but withdrawn before an EIS was started. These search criteria
resulted in the selection of 49 proposals that constituted the population
from which projects would be selected. I then randomly sampled 18 projects
for inclusion in a larger research project on energy facility siting. Ten of the
18 projects were LNG proposals. For the analysis presented herein, I include
these 10 LNG proposals and the 3 California proposals. Information about
each of these cases is provided in Table 1.

Boudet 51
Table 1: Selected cases

Proposal Proponent Location Projected cost Timeframe

(million $)
Affected community On- or off-shore start end

Cabrillo Port BHP Oxnard, CA Offshore 550 Aug-03 May-07

Malibu, CA (14 mi.)

Compass Port ConocoPhillips Mobile County, AL Offshore 500-800 Mar-04 Jun-06

(11 mi.)
Corpus Christi LNG Cheniere Energy San Patricio County, TX Onshore 500 May-03 Apr-05
Creole Trail Cheniere Energy Cameron Parish, LA Onshore 900 Jan-05 May-06

Crown Landing BP Gloucester County, NJ Onshore 500 Dec-03 Mar-08

New Castle County, DE

Freeport LNG Freeport LNG Brazoria County, TX Onshore 300 Sep-01 Jun-04
Gulf Landing Shell Cameron Parish, LA Offshore 700 Oct-03 Mar-07
(38 mi.)
KeySpan KeySpan Providence, RI Onshore 100 Oct-03 Jun-05
Long Beach LNG Sound Energy Solutions Long Beach, CA Onshore 350 Mar-03 June-08
Mare Island Energy Bechtel and Shell Vallejo, CA Onshore 1500 May-02 Feb-03
Northeast Gateway Excelerate Energy Gloucester, MA Offshore 200 Jun-04 May-07
(13 mi.)
Sabine Pass Cheniere Energy Cameron Parish, LA Onshore 500 May-03 Dec-04
Vista del Sol ExxonMobil San Patricio County, TX Onshore 600 Oct-03 Jun-05

Data collection
I employed a systematic process to collect data for each case, combining
desktop research and on-the-ground fieldwork.
1 The local newspaper of the
community affected by the proposal was searched for relevant articles, edi-
torials and letters-to-the editor concerning the proposal. Most of the local
newspapers were available in a searchable format either via Newsbanks
Americas Newspapers database, LexisNexis or directly from the newspapers
website or editors. The newspapers were searched for terms relevant to each
case. My research team read and catalogued the resultant articles, letters-to-
the-editor and editorials to accomplish the following: (1) develop a narrative
of each case to systematize our understanding of the events surrounding
the LNG proposal and (2) identify active individuals and organizations for
future interviews. In addition, the section of the Environmental Impact State-
ment (EIS) devoted to public comments and letters was also examined to
confirm the results of the newspaper analysis and identify any additional
actors for interviews. In addition to information from newspapers and EISs,
we also collected relevant data from the Census Bureau and National Center
for Charitable Statistics on socioeconomic information, education levels, and
organizational capacity for each community prior to the proposal.

Armed with this information, I conducted site visits to each affected com-
munity from July 2006 to January 2010 to conduct 106 interviews with key
participants identified in the newspapers and to collect organizational data
from local groups active in the siting process.5 On average, interviews lasted
a little over an hour and were structured as a guided conversation. They fo-
cused on the (1) major issues and active groups in the community prior to

52 Projections 11
the LNG proposal, (2) major issues and active groups during the debate of
the LNG proposal, and (3) activities undertaken by these groups to express
opposition to the LNG proposal.6

In addition to validating and elaborating upon the information found in news-

paper articles, these site visits provided local perspectives on the level of
mobilization and controversy surrounding each proposal. The intent was to
capture a panel of informants (Weiss 1994) representing different stake-
holders in the debate elected officials, decision makers, agency staff, proj-
ect proponents, supporters and opponents. In addition, newspaper staff
members who had closely followed the events surrounding the proposal
were interviewed. Two communities Cameron Parish, Louisiana and Corpus
Christi, Texas were the site of multiple proposals from my sample.

For these proposals, the same informants provided information about the
cases in the community.7 Table 2 provides information about data collection
for each case. The appendix provides additional information about interview-
ees cited in the text.

Table 2: Data collection for each case

Table 2: Data collection for each case # (average length
Proposal Newspaper Articles Letters / Editorials
in minutes)
Cabrillo # (average length
ProposalPort Ventura County Star
Newspaper Articles139Letters / Editorials
417 24 (78)
Malibu Times 89 122 in minutes)

Cabrillo Port
Compass Port Ventura
MobileCounty Star
Press-Register 139 66 417 71 24 (78) 9 (57)
Malibu Times 89 122
Corpus Christi LNG Corpus Christi Caller-Times 64 4 8 (46)
Compass Port Mobile Press-Register 66 71 9 (57)
Creole Trail Cameron Parish Pilot 70 0 6 (38)
Corpus Christi LNG Corpus Christi Caller-Times 64 4 8 (46)
Crown Landing
Creole Trail Wilmington
Cameron News
Parish Pilot Journal 70 130 0 12 6 (38) 10 (50)
Gloucester County Times 110 28
Crown Landing Wilmington News Journal 130 12 10 (50)
Freeport LNG Gloucester
FactsTimes 110 75 28 12 8 (64)
Gulf Landing
Freeport LNG CameronFacts
Brazosport Parish Pilot 75 70 12 0 8 (64) 6 (68)
New Orleans Times-Picayune 22 n/a
Gulf Landing Cameron Parish Pilot 70 0 6 (68)
New Orleans Times-Picayune 22 n/a
KeySpan Providence Journal 108 40 6 (76)
KeySpan Providence Journal 108 40 6 (76)
Long Beach LNG Long Beach Press-Telegram 154 101 8 (97)
Long Beach LNG Long Beach Press-Telegram 154 101 8 (97)
Mare Island Energy Vallejo Times-Herald 81 237 16 (68)
Mare Island Energy Vallejo Times-Herald 81 237 16 (68)
Northeast Gateway Gloucester Daily Times 144 46 4 (46)
Northeast Gateway Gloucester Daily Times 144 46 4 (46)
Sabine Pass Cameron Parish Pilot 70 1 6 (38)
Sabine Pass Cameron Parish
Beaumont Pilot
Enterprise 70 9 1 n/a 6 (38)
Beaumont Enterprise 9 n/a
Vista del Sol Corpus Christi Caller-Times 64 6 8 (46)
Vista del Sol Corpus Christi Caller-Times 64 6 8 (46)

Note: For newspapers

Note: For newspapersthat that cover
cover more
more than
than one one proposal
proposal in theinsample,
the sample, the includes
the count count includes all written
all articles articlesabout
of the any of the
proposals inthe
proposals in thesample
samplein in that
that newspaper,
newspaper, i.e.,i.e.,
it is it
not divided
out byout by proposal.

Boudet 53
Variable measurement
I focus my analysis on the three causal conditions identified in the political
process model threat, political opportunity and resources and the rel-
evant outcomes mobilization and project success or failure. Following the
traditions of grounded theory and case study research, the operationaliza-
tion of each variable was continuously refined throughout the research pro-
cess. Variables for each case were scored as high, medium or low based on
fieldwork and using criteria drawn from comparisons across cases. The goal
of the measurement strategies described herein is to set up a structure to
move from time-intensive qualitative data collection to readily-available data
sources to pave the way for future application of this framework to studies
containing a larger number of cases. The richness from the qualitative data
is presented below in the results section to demonstrate the more detailed
information used to validate these measurement strategies. See the techni-
cal appendix for data by case.

To measure the threat posed by the proposal, I constructed a metric based
on the location and regasification technology of the facility key factors high-
lighted in newspaper articles and interviews.8 If the facility was to be located
onshore, a distinction was made between those facilities located in popu-
lated areas (greater than 2009 people per square mile) and those located in
unpopulated areas (less than 200 people per square mile).9 Facilities located
in populated areas pose more of a threat than those in unpopulated areas.
If the facility was to be located offshore, a distinction was made among the
several technologies available for regasification. These technologies can be
divided into two categories: open-loop and closed-loop. Open-loop technolo-
gies use seawater to warm the LNG. Closed-loop technologies use air or burn
a portion of the imported natural gas for warming. The National Marine
Fisheries Service, state fisheries regulators, environmental organizations
and fishing groups have expressed serious concerns about how the use and
release of seawater by open-loop technologies may affect surrounding fish
populations. Thus, many viewed open-loop technologies as more threatening
than closed-loop.10

In light of these considerations, the operationalization of threat for facili-

ties was as follows (see Table 3). The threat associated with the facility was
scored as high if the proposal was located onshore in a populated area.
The threat was scored as medium if the facility was located offshore with
open-loop regasification. Finally, the threat was scored as low if the proposal
was located onshore in an unpopulated area or offshore with closed-loop

54 Projections 11
Table 3: Levels of threat for LNG proposals

Score Criteria Cases

High Onshore, populated Crown Landing

(n=4) KeySpan
Long Beach LNG
Mare Island Energy

Medium Offshore, open-loop Compass Port

(n=2) Gulf Landing

Low Onshore, unpopulated Cabrillo Port

(n=7) or Offshore, closed- Corpus Christi LNG
loop Creole Trail
Freeport LNG
Northeast Gateway Sabine Pass
Vista del Sol

Political opportunity
To measure the political opportunity for mobilization against the proposal,
I constructed a metric based on the jurisdiction (i.e., local, state or federal)
and process of selection (i.e., percent elected) of key decision makers influ-
encing the fate of the proposal (see Table 4). If key decision makers were
elected, information was included on whether they faced an upcoming elec-
tion. This measure gives a sense of how accessible and responsive decision
makers would be to concerns expressed by members of the affected commu-
nities. Political opportunity associated with the facility was scored as high if
key decision makers were located at the local level and elected and facing an
upcoming election. Political opportunity was scored as medium if key deci-
sion makers were located at the state or local level and elected but not facing
an upcoming election. Finally, political opportunity was scored as low if all
key decision makers were located at the federal level and none were elected.

Internal (local) resources
To measure the resources available in the affected community for mobiliza-
tion, a metric was constructed based on education levels (to represent infor-
mational resources), income levels (to represent funding resources), organi-
zational capacity and past experience (see Table 5). Education and income
levels were drawn from U.S. Census data on the percent of the affected com-
munitys population with a bachelors degree and median household income
(U.S. Census Bureau 2000). Organizational capacity was measured based on
the number of nonprofit organizations in the affected community.11 This type
of historical data is available from the National Center for Charitable Statis-
tics maintained by the Urban Institute (National Center for Charitable Statis-
tics 2002). Organizational capacity data was selected for the closest month
and year available before the initial announcement of the relevant proposal

Boudet 55
and normalized by population.12 Data on past experience fighting industrial
proposals (in the past 5 years) was gathered via interviews and newspapers.

Table 4: Levels of political opportunity for LNG proposals

Score Criteria Cases

High Local officials among key decision makers Long Beach LNG
(n=2) and Mare Island Energy
Some of decisions makers elected and
Elected decision makers facing upcoming
Medium State or local officials among key decision Cabrillo Port
(n=6) makers and Compass Port
Some of decision makers elected Crown Landing
Freeport LNG
Gulf Landing
Northeast Gateway

Low Only federal officials among key decision Corpus Christi LNG
(n=5) makers and Creole Trail
No decision makers elected KeySpan
Sabine Pass
Vista del Sol

Table 5: Levels of internal resources for LNG proposals

Score Criteria Cases

High Previous experience successfully defeating a similar Cabrillo Port
(n=2) proposal Compass Port

Medium No experience successfully defeating a similar proposal Crown Landing

(n=6) and Freeport LNG
15% of population college educated and KeySpan
$35,000 median household income and Long Beach LNG
3.5 nonprofits per 1000 people Mare Island Energy
Northeast Gateway

Low No experience successfully defeating a similar proposal Corpus Christi LNG

(n=5) and Creole Trail
<15% of population college educated and Gulf Landing
<$35,000 median household income and Sabine Pass
<3.5 nonprofits per 1000 people Vista del Sol

A communitys internal resources were scored as high if the community had

successfully opposed a LNG facility in the previous 5 years. According to
interviews, this type of experience created important connections among
community members and made subsequent mobilization easier. For com-
munities without this sort of experience, I relied on secondary data sources
for scoring, determining the following breakpoints based on my knowledge
of the cases.

56 Projections 11
A communitys internal resources were scored as medium if at least fifteen
percent of the population was college educated and income levels were thir-
ty-five thousand or more and the community had at least 3.5 nonprofits per
thousand people. A communitys internal resources were scored as low if
less than fifteen percent of the population was college educated and income
levels were less than thirty-five thousand and the community had less than
3.5 nonprofits per thousand people.13

External (nonlocal) resources

Although not measured prior to mobilization, I include a scoring of the exter-
nal resources involved in each proposal because of the critical role outside
groups play in the narratives below. External resources were scored as high
if I found evidence of involvement by external governmental and non-govern-
mental organizations; medium with evidence of involvement by external gov-
ernmental organizations only; low with evidence of involvement by external
NGOs only; and otherwise none (see Table 6).14

Table 6: Level of external resources for LNG proposal

Score Criteria Cases

High Evidence of involvement by external Cabrillo Port

(n=6) governmental and non-governmental Compass Port
organizations Crown Landing
Gulf Landing
Long Beach LNG

Medium Evidence of involvement by external

(n=0) governmental organizations only

Low Evidence of involvement by external non- Freeport LNG

(n=4) governmental organizations only Mare Island
Vista del Sol

None No evidence of involvement by external Corpus Christi

(n=3) organizations LNG
Creole Trail
Sabine Pass

Social movement scholars divide measurements of mobilization into institu-
tionalized actions, or those that occur within the structures provided by both
the governing body and project proponent for public feedback, and conten-
tious actions, or those that occur outside of these structures. However, the
siting of an industrial facility provides opportunities for both types of activi-
ties, and I wanted a measure of opposition that would include both. Thus,

Boudet 57
determinations about the level of mobilization were based on letters-to-the-
editor, maximum number of speakers at a single EIS hearing, coordinated
appearances at meetings (other than EIS hearings) organized by others, pub-
lic meetings planned by opponents, protest events and lawsuits.

Mobilization was scored as high if many letters and speakers voiced concern
about the proposal (<50 combined) and opponents organized more than
two events (coordinated appearance, public meeting or protest event). Mo-
bilization was scored as medium if few letters and speakers voiced concern
about the proposal (<50 combined) and opponents organized more than two
events. Mobilization was scored as low if few letters and speakers voiced
concern about the proposal (<50 combined) and opponents organized one
or two events. Cases with fewer than 50 letters and speakers combined and
no organized events exhibited almost no mobilization. See Table 7 for the
scoring of each case.

Table 7: Levels of mobilization for LNG proposals

Score Criteria Cases

High Many letters and speakers (50 combined) Cabrillo Port
(n=4) and Compass Port
More than two organized events Long Beach LNG
Mare Island Energy

Medium Few letters and speakers (<50 combined) Crown Landing

(n=2) and Gulf Landing
More than two organized events
Low Few letters and speakers (<50 combined) Freeport LNG
(n=3) and KeySpan
One or two organized events Northeast Gateway

Almost None Few letters and speakers (<50 combined) Corpus Christi LNG
(n=4) and Creole Trail
No organized events Sabine Pass
Vista del Sol

Table 8 displays the results of my analysis of threat, political opportunity,
resources and mobilization across all thirteen LNG proposals. Four types of
response are represented: (1) federal and local acceptance, (2) local opposi-
tion, (3) non-local opposition, (4) widespread opposition. I discuss each in
turn below.

58 Projections 11
Federal and local acceptance
All of the proposals that fall in the federal and local acceptance category
(i.e., those projects that experienced no opposition) were onshore facilities
located in unpopulated areas on private property in the Gulf Coast (Sabine
Pass, Creole Trail, Vista del Sol and Corpus Christi LNG). This choice of loca-
tion by the proposing companies created the ideal conditions for community
acceptance: low threat (because the surrounding area was unpopulated), low
political opportunity (because the land for the facility was privately owned
and there was no separate state-level environmental review, so the only gov-
ernmental review was federal) and low resources (because of a rural location
in the Gulf Coast).

The Gulf Coast (with the exception of Florida) has a long history of accepting
and encouraging oil and gas development on and near its shores (Gramling
and Freudenburg 1996). Indeed, each of these four LNG proposals were
sought out by the local community, via advertisements by local economic
development corporations, and accepted with open arms. For example, when
Cheniere Energy first proposed the Sabine Pass LNG facility in Cameron Par-
ish, Louisiana, a local police juror (the equivalent of a county commissioner)
was quoted in the local newspaper as saying to Cheniere representatives at
a public meeting, All of Cameron Parish is behind your project. When you
called, I thought we had got a call from heaven (Wise 2003). Several inter-
viewees in Louisiana and Texas spoke about the importance of the oil and
gas industry to the Gulf Coast economy and their comfort with these types
of developments (interviews 1-4). Kristi Darby, of Louisiana State University,
commented in a Mobile Press-Register article that, People in Louisiana are
used to having the petroleum industry around. The oil industry has been
in Louisiana for decades. The communities are not afraid of LNG (James

Community members saw these projects as a potential source of revenue

and jobs. At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing about the
Draft EIS for the Sabine Pass project, Bobby Conner, the local tax assessor,
asserted that:

Cheniere Energywould be a great help to our tax base, which is dwin-

dling...because... everybodys everybodys going deeper and deeper off-
shore to drill for oil and gas these days. And the LNG facility, it would be
real welcomeSince 1999, Louisiana has lost 4,000 jobs in the petro-
chemical industry and is on track to lose another 18,000 in 2004-2005.
Nowhere have they been stinged [sic] more sharply than the ammonia
fertilizer industry where natural gas makes up 90 percent of the process.
Four years ago there were nine aluminum plants in Louisiana. Today we
have three. This has made the LNG project a top priority in our state and
in our nation (Draft EIS Hearing on Sabine Pass LNG and Pipeline Project
2004, 22).

Boudet 59
At ExxonMobils press conference announcing the Vista del Sol LNG proposal
in San Patricio County, Texas, Governor Rick Perry stressed that:

Texas and the United States need secure supplies of natural gas to at-
tract industries, assure development and to continue the strong econom-
ic growth we are experiencing in our state and throughout the nation.
This project will bring jobs and other economic benefits to San Patricio
County and the greater Corpus Christi area and will provide long-term
supplies of natural gas for our industries, power plants and homes (quot-
ed in Powell 2004).

Table 8: Mobilization against LNG proposals

Response Political Internal
Case Threat resources Mobilization Outcome Implication
category opportunity resources
Federal Sabine Pass Low Low Low None None Built Low threat projects in
and local Creole Trail Low Low Low None None Approved communities with
acceptance Vista del Sol Low Low Low Low None Approved limited political
opportunity and
resources attract little
Corpus Christi Low Low Low None None Approved opposition and are
LNG approved and often
Local Freeport LNG Low Medium Medium Low Low Built
Northeast Low Medium Medium Low Low Built

Non-local Gulf Landing Medium Medium Low High Medium Withdrawn More threatening
opposition projects in communities
with limited political
Crown Landing High Medium Medium High Medium Rejected opportunity and
internal resources
attract opposition from
KeySpan High Low Medium High Low Rejected outside groups,
resulting in failed

Widespread Long Beach LNG High High Medium High High Rejected Two pathways result in
opposition widespread opposition:
the combination of a
Mare Island High High Medium Low High Withdrawn
threatening project in a
community with access
Compass Port Medium Medium High High High Withdrawn to decision
makers or projects
Cabrillo Port Low Medium High High High Rejected proposed in
communities with
internal resources.

Thus, in many ways, the LNG proposals in this category were not merely
accepted but actively campaigned for as a way to spur local economic de-
velopment. Any mobilization in these cases was in support of the proposed
facilities. All of these facilities were approved and one was built.

Local opposition
The next set of proposals (Freeport LNG and Northeast Gateway) experi-
enced little, mainly localized opposition. These two proposals one onshore
in an unpopulated area and the other offshore, closed-loop had low levels

60 Projections 11
of threat associated with them. Thus, despite having medium levels of po-
litical opportunity and resources, opponents struggled to foster opposition
beyond the locally-affected community. As exemplified by the Freeport LNG
project, in both cases local opponents confronted larger regional- and state-
level forces that favored LNG development.

Freeport LNG is located on Quintana Island, Texas an island surrounded by

industrial development but home to about fifty residents and a prime birding
destination. Dow Texas Operations Dows largest integrated site is located
just across the ship channel in Freeport. It is the citys largest employer. As a
large user of natural gas, Dow was supportive of the Freeport LNG proposal
and signed a purchasing agreement for 500 million cubic feet of gas per day
upon completion of the facility (Antosh 2003). Although several Quintana
residents were strident opponents of the facility and eventually partnered
with birding groups from nearby Lake Jackson and Houston, Dows support
made it difficult for this opposition to spread elsewhere in the region. In
fact, local opposition was quickly dismissed by other residents: The Texas
Gulf coast has been in the center of the petrochemical industry for genera-
tions. To say that the area cant accommodate a LNG operation would be
like choking on a gnat after swallowing a camel (Hawes 2004). As a result,
opponents of the Freeport LNG facility focused efforts on securing mitigation
(interview 5). These efforts resulted in the relocation of a popular birding
park on Quintana Island and the purchase of 78 acres in nearby Surfside for
wetlands mitigation.

Similarly, opponents of the Northeast Gateway facility proposed for offshore

Gloucester, Massachusetts, also confronted a wall of regional support. As
one of the few offshore proposals along the East Coast, Northeast Gate-
way was seen by many politicians, including Governor Mitt Romney, as the
preferred option for a much-needed LNG facility in Massachusetts. The off-
shore proposal avoided the public safety concerns associated with strongly-
opposed onshore proposals in other locations like Fall River, Massachusetts.
Thus, despite strong opposition from local fishing groups in Gloucester, the
mobilization never spread to others within the community or to environmen-
tal groups at the regional- or state-level. For example, despite numerous
appeals from Gloucesters Mayor (an opponent), Fall Rivers Mayor repeat-
edly voiced his support for the offshore Gloucester option as the preferred
site (interview 6). In addition, the Conservation Law Foundation, a power-
ful environmental group and frequent opponent of offshore development
in the Northeast, never took on the Northeast Gateway proposal directly,
despite requests from local Gloucester opponents. Angela Sanfilippo of the
Gloucester Fishermens Wives Association (another opponent) lamented the
fact that, after so many years spent quarreling with regional environmental
groups and government regulators over fisheries protection, when it came
time that they could have all been on the same side, we lost fishing ground
in the name of clean energy (interview 7). Once it became clear that the
Northeast Gateway proposal would be approved, opponents of the Northeast

Boudet 61
Gateway, like those on Quintana Island, focused their efforts on mitigation.
Coordinating an eleventh hour effort, they successfully secured $24 million
from the proposing company (interview 6).

In both locations, the facilities were eventually built, but relations between
the company and community remain strained. For example, because of the
lack of support company officials encountered in Gloucester, they chose
to locate the headquarters for Northeast Gateway in nearby Salem (inter-
view 8). In sum, the low-threat proposals in medium-opportunity environ-
ments and medium-resourced communities tended to experience low levels
of mainly localized opposition. And, while these projects were approved,
when built, companies continued to experience local resistance and hostility.

Non-local opposition
The next set of proposals (Gulf Landing, Crown Landing and KeySpan) were
higher threat facilities located either onshore in populated areas of the
Northeast of offshore in the Gulf with open-loop regasification. Political op-
portunities for opponents in these cases were medium or low because key
decision makers were mostly located at the national level and non-elected,
and internal resources for mobilization in all three locations were modest.
As a result, these projects experienced low- to medium-levels of opposition
from the community. Unlike in the locally opposed cases, however, state-level
bureaucrats and external NGOs took an active role in opposing these facili-
ties, often using legal means to block approval.

In the case of Crown Landing, the facility became part of a larger jurisdic-
tional dispute between Delaware and New Jersey. BP proposed the facility
in Logan Township, New Jersey, on the Delaware River. This location placed
the pier of the facility inside Delawares border and in direct violation of
Delawares Coastal Zone Act, which prohibits the construction of certain
types of industrial facilities within the coastal zone. Delaware regulators re-
jected the proposal, with support from Delaware environmental groups, who
were long-time defenders of the Coastal Zone Act. New Jersey, with support
from BP, filed suit against Delaware. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually de-
cided in favor of Delaware, and BP withdrew the project. Because the state
of Delaware took such an active role in opposing the project to defend its
jurisdiction, mobilization was somewhat muted and legalistic in nature. For
example, Delaware environment groups immediately partnered with the En-
vironmental Law Clinic at Widener University to develop legal briefs on the
issue. New Jersey residents, with a few notable exceptions, and elected offi-
cials were largely supportive of the proposal because of the jobs and revenue
it would bring to the area.

Similarly, most of the opposition to KeySpan was driven by the Rhode Is-
land Attorney General and his staff (interviews 9-11). They researched the
impacts of the facility, gathered expert witness testimony, distributed infor-
mation and advocated on behalf of the people of Rhode Island. They did

62 Projections 11
not, however, incite mobilization. Interviewees noted that the response from
the community was somewhat subdued compared to past events (interviews
10-11). In contrast, the community reaction in nearby Fall River, Massachu-
setts, to defeat the Weavers Cove LNG proposal was much more organized
and impassioned. Indeed, Assistant Attorney General Paul Roberti admitted
that his strategy was not to garner support from the general public, whom
he thought FERC would ignore, but from expert witnesses (interview 11).
Unlike in Fall River, the population surrounding the KeySpan location was
very diverse and majority minority. For example, one Providence resident
told The Providence Journal that many residents do not speak English and
I seriously doubt their views will be heard (Reynolds 2004). Thus, the op-
positions strategy was to rely on legalistic arguments against the proposal.
This strategy proved successful. FERC rejected the proposal due to safety
concerns in June 2005.

The Gulf Landing proposal, located in southwest Louisiana, drew much of

its opposition from regional- and state-level fisheries regulators and environ-
mental and fishing organizations located across the state in New Orleans.
This project, located offshore Louisiana, was the third offshore, open loop
proposal in the Gulf of Mexico. The previous two offshore, open loop propos-
als in the Gulf had sailed through the approval process with no community
opposition. Those two projects had, however, caught the attention of federal
and state fisheries regulators who were concerned about the potential im-
pacts to the fishery from the open loop regasification system. Agency offi-
cials began to alert environmental and fishing organizations to the potential
dangers posed by this technology (interviews 12-14). These groups, mainly
based out of New Orleans (on the other side of the state from the Gulf Land-
ing proposal), began to get involved with the release of the Gulf Landing
Final EIS in early December 2004 (interview 15). This document was the first
to include a standardized methodology to assess potential fisheries impacts
from open loop regasification. The range of potential impacts to fish popula-
tions was large and the upper limit caught the publics attention (interview
16). As a result, in addition to eliciting the same negative comments from
fisheries regulators, the Gulf Landing Final EIS also drew negative comments
from the Sierra Clubs Louisiana Chapter and the Gulf Restoration Network.
Fishing organizations were also becoming concerned as fishermen began to
swamp message boards on a popular fishing website, RodNReel.com, and
inundate regulators with calls about the issue. The Louisiana Charter Boats
Association decided to take on the cause and eventually joined forces with
environmental groups to form the Gumbo Alliance against open loop LNG in
Louisiana. Despite this opposition, the Gulf Landing facility was approved in
February 2005, and the Governor of Louisiana elected not to use her veto
power against the proposal, despite extensive lobbying by opponents be-
cause she provided the likely political avenue for rejection of the proposal.

This setback did not faze the growing opposition movement against the pro-
posal and open loop LNG more generally. Instead, the Sierra Club, Gulf Res-

Boudet 63
toration Network and Louisiana Charter Boats Association, with the help of
the Tulane Environmental Center, sued the federal government for approving
the Gulf Landing facility. The lawsuit against Gulf Landing failed, but the
company eventually withdrew the approved facility in March 2007.

In all three cases, non-local opposition from state-level officials and/or ex-
ternal NGOs replaced local mobilization as the means for defeating the pro-
posal. Thus, despite weak levels of local mobilization, the proposals were
still defeated.

Widespread opposition
The fourth set of cases (Long Beach, Mare Island, Compass Port and Ca-
brillo Port) resulted in widespread mobilization but via two different paths.
In the cases of Long Beach and Mare Island, mobilization was driven by a
combination of high threat and high political opportunity. In the cases of
Compass Port and Cabrillo Port, it was driven by strong internal resources. I
discuss each path in turn.

Because internal resources were lower, opposition to the Mare Island and
Long Beach proposals was unexpected. For example, the Mare Island Energy
Project was proposed in Vallejo, California a city that had recently lost a
major economic engine with the decommissioning of the Mare Island Naval
Shipyard and was desperately seeking a source of additional revenue and
jobs for its flagging economy. As a result, city officials were initially sup-
portive of the proposal. It was not until new residents to Vallejo started
protesting due to the potential threats posed by the facility that city leaders
changed their mind about the proposal. See Boudet and Ortolano (2010) for
a more on this case.

Like Vallejo, Long Beach was experiencing a budgetary crisis just before it
received its LNG proposal, slated for the citys port, in early 2003. Con-
sequently, the Long Beach LNG proposal and its potential to increase city
revenue appealed to many city leaders. Moreover, city residents had suffered
a quadrupling of natural gas prices during Californias 2001 energy crisis.
The potential for a steady supply of natural gas from the proposal was also
attractive to city leaders. Like Vallejo, Long Beach also did not have many
internal resources for mobilization against the proposal. In the late 1990s,
Long Beach experienced the loss of two major sources of employment the
Navy and McDonnell Douglas. As a result, many long-term residents moved
away. Moreover, many of its residents, especially those who live closest to
the Port, are poor and brownTo be an activist and speak up at meetings,
you have to believe that government works and your voice will be heard. Many
Latinos dont (interview 17).

As in Vallejo, what Long Beach opponents lacked in resources, they made up

for by exploiting the high levels of threat and political opportunity. The Long
Beach Terminal was to be located less than two miles from city hall in the

64 Projections 11
Port of Long Beach, one of the countrys busiest ports. Local opponents and
state officials were concerned about the potential impacts to both human
health and commerce of placing a potentially explosive LNG facility in such
a busy location where many dangerous chemicals were already transported
and stored (interview 18). According to comments filed by state officials on
the Draft EIS, the LONG Beach LNG facility could pose a risk to the health
and safety of the approximately 130,000 people living, working or visiting
in the area within approximately three miles of the proposed site (Cali-
fornia Public Utilities Commission 2005, 2). Along with other onshore LNG
facilities around the country, the Long Beach project also became the subject
of a jurisdictional dispute between federal and state regulators. When the
proposing company filed an application only with federal regulators, state
regulators sued. As a result, Long Beach opponents could piggyback off of
the efforts of state officials in terms of developing technical and legal argu-
ments against the facility.

However, in addition to the opposition provided by the state, which in many

respects is similar to what happened among the cases of non-local opposi-
tion described above, Long Beach opponents were afforded a local political
opportunity provided by a provision of the California Environmental Quality
Act (CEQA). The lead agency for the California Environmental Impact Report
(EIR) on the project was the Port of Long Beach, a non-elected body. In the
case of EIR certification by a non-elected body, CEQA permits an appeal
of this certification to the next highest elected body in this case the Long
Beach City Council (State of California 2003). Thus, some of the mobiliza-
tion efforts by opponents went toward lobbying city council members and
organizing coordinated appearances at council meetings. Myown also ran for
an open council seat in April 2006, in part to ensure that every candidate,
even those in the mayors race, would be forced to take a position on the pro-
posal (interview 17). Although she did not win the election, Myown ensured
that the LNG issue was prominent during the campaign with both of the key
contenders in mayoral race expressing opposition to the proposal in favor of
offshore alternatives.

Soon after the election of a new mayor who was opposed to the proposal,
Port of Long Beach Commissioners voted to abandon the EIR process and
end negotiations with the proposing company about the LNG facility.15 Most
interviewees seemed to think the projects demise was related to a combi-
nation of community opposition, state agency opposition and the mayoral
election (interviews 17, 18-21). These two cases provide important evidence
that opposition can successfully derail projects despite a lack of internal

In contrast, Cabrillo Port and Compass Port followed a path to mobilization

driven by internal resources, as opposed to threat and political opportunity.
Oxnard had successfully defeated an onshore LNG proposal on its shores
prior to the Cabrillo Port proposal. Thus, the community was home to a

Boudet 65
plethora of local environmental and community organizations that were fa-
miliar with LNG and viewed opposing such projects as part of their mission.
In addition, the project was located in Southern California, an area known
for its environmental activism, particularly against industrial development
on the coast. These organizational resources supported the opposition ef-
fort against the proposal, with opponents relying on both institutional and
contentious means to express their point of view that LNG was not needed
in California. Of all the proposals considered in this study, Cabrillo Port pro-
voked by far the most opposition, mobilizing somewhere between two and
three thousand people first for a paddle out protest in Malibu and then for
a rally at the hearing on the projects Final EIS in Oxnard. This fierce resis-
tance came despite the fact that the project posed little threat as an offshore,
closed-loop proposal and opponents only had a medium level of opportunity
in the form of a gubernatorial veto.

In many ways, the Compass Port proposal is strikingly similar to the Cabrillo
Port proposal. The Compass Port facility was to be located offshore Mobile,
Alabama, which was one of the few Gulf Coast communities to oppose and
defeat two previous onshore LNG proposals by ExxonMobil and Cheniere En-
ergy, respectively. This experience meant that community members were or-
ganized, aware and somewhat distrustful of LNG proposals. Although initial-
ly supportive of ConocoPhillipss offshore Compass Port proposal because
it lessened potential safety impacts, opponents of the previous onshore pro-
posals in Mobile quickly became aware of the open-loop regasification issue
through a local newspaper reporter at the Mobile Press-Register (interviews
22-23). The newspaper had become an important source of information for
LNG opponents around the country on both the safety and environmental
impacts of LNG receiving terminals (interviews 17, 23). Once aware, much
of the momentum, garnered from the defeat of the onshore LNG proposals,
was successfully transferred to oppose the Compass Port facility through the
hard work and dedication of Mobile BayKeeper. Mobile BayKeepers execu-
tive director, Casi Callaway, also served on the Board of the Gulf Restoration
Network, a regional environmental organization, and could thus learn from
the experiences of LNG opponents in Louisiana. Following a pattern that had
proven successful in Louisiana, the opposition in Alabama brought together
an unlikely alliance of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen and
environmentalists (interviews 22, 24). The improbability of such an alliance
was demonstrated by the fact that the commercial and recreational fishing
groups so hated working together that their representatives requested to
be placed on opposite sides of the podium during joint press conferences.
The last event organized by opponents in Mobile drew over 400 participants
to a town hall meeting with Governor Riley on Compass Port (Raines 2006,
interview 24). This turnout indicated fervent opposition to open-loop LNG,
and Governor Riley threatened a veto of Compass Port. As in the case of
the Cabrillo Port proposal, existing organizations in Mobile organized fierce
resistance to Compass Port, despite the fact that the project posed only a
medium level of threat as an offshore, open-loop proposal and opponents

66 Projections 11
only had a medium level of opportunity in the form of a gubernatorial veto.

In these two cases, energy companies, recognizing the difficulty of siting an

onshore LNG facility in a given community due to safety concerns, proposed
what they thought would be considered a more palatable offshore proposal.
While this move lessened the threat posed by a facility and changed political
opportunity structures for mobilization, it did not affect the underlying in-
ternal resources for mobilization against LNG, which were primed and ready
given past experiences. Thus, the timing of these proposals, in terms of the
communitys experience with previous LNG proposals, was extremely impor-
tant in cultivating resources and influencing mobilization levels.

Discussion and Conclusions

My examination of thirteen LNG proposals generates three main hypotheses
that should be tested with additional case study work. First, low threat proj-
ects in communities with limited access to decision makers (low political
opportunity) and limited resources attract little, mainly local, opposition and
are approved and often built. Second, even in communities with relatively
limited resources, more threatening projects attract opposition from outside
groups. The result is failed projects, either through rejection by regulatory of-
ficials or withdrawal by the company. Third, two pathways result in success-
ful, widespread opposition: either the combination of a high threat project in
a community with access to decision makers (high political opportunity) or a
project proposed in a community with internal resources.

For both social movement theory and the literature on facility siting, my re-
search highlights the importance of configurational thinking; i.e., the idea
that different combinations of causal conditions can come together to pro-
duce the outcome of interest, in this case mobilization against LULU propos-
als. A comparison between the thirteen cases suggests that it is not just the
magnitude of each individual factor presented in the conceptual framework
(i.e., threat, political opportunity and resources) but also their combination
that is important in determining mobilization outcomes. High levels of mo-
bilization can take place with some factors at very low levels, provided other
factors have high levels.

This finding is similar to the conclusion reached by Gamson, Fireman et al.

(1982) in an experimental study of collective rebellions. They concluded that
a combination of five distinct factors had to be present for rebellion. Each
factor individually was necessary but not sufficient for an uprising. Signifi-
cantly, deficiencies in one factor could be compensated for by high values
in another. This configurational thinking is typical of comparative case study
work, where investigators tend to think in terms of the causal recipes or
the causally relevant conditions [independent variables] that combine to
produce a given outcome [dependent variable] (Ragin 2008, 6-1). However,

Boudet 67
as Rihoux and Ragin (2009) point out, this conception of causality is con-
trary to many of the assumptions underlying mainstream statistical tech-
niques. In statistical analysis, the impact of a given independent variable
on the dependent variable is assumed to be the same regardless of the
values of the other independent variables (Ragin 2008, 112). The results
of my work suggest that, in comparison to mainstream statistical reasoning,
configurational thinking may be more appropriate for understanding mobili-
zation efforts against proposals for LNG facilities and LULUs more generally.

In practice, these findings point to the important role played by non-local

governmental officials and NGOs in opposition efforts against threatening
projects, particularly in communities where political opportunities and in-
ternal resources are limited. For example, with the exception of the Mare
Island Energy Project16, external groups played key roles in dismantling all
the failed projects in communities with low to medium internal resources.
Conversely, local opposition alone appears ineffective in disabling projects,
as shown in both the Freeport and Northeast Gateway cases. In essence,
state and regional players compare the risks posed by multiple proposals,
and, if the infrastructure is deemed necessary, the least risky proposal often
garners support (or at least avoids opposition) from state and regional lead-
ers. For example, Northeast Gateway, with its offshore location, was seen as
the less risky alternative for LNG development in Massachusetts. Thus, local
officials and community members must continually assess a proposal in
their own community in comparison to other similar proposals in the state
and region. Facility proponents do, and, as a result, often propose facilities in
multiple locations to hedge risks and win the race to approval. For example,
ExxonMobil proposed LNG facilities near Corpus Christi, Texas; Mobile, Ala-
bama; and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Excelerate Energy proposed facili-
ties offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and Massachusetts. NorthernStar Natural
Gas proposed facilities in California and Oregon. Each company therefore
had multiple irons in the fire and could abandon a proposal that experienced
opposition. This idea of a race to site is not uncommon in the energy sec-
tor and suggests that opposition from state or regional leaders and delaying
tactics by opponents may be just as effective in disabling a project as tactics
aimed at outright rejection.

68 Projections 11
1. LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to cryogenic temperatures for transporta-
tion in tankers. Offload terminals receive these tankers and vaporize the LNG for dis-
tribution. An LNG facility represents a classic example of a LULU, imposing negative
impacts on a local community but wider benefits to the region.

2. Breaks in trust were another causal factor identified by Boudet and Ortolano
(2010). However, my interviews did not indicate that breaks in trust played an impor-
tant role in the mobilization efforts in the additional cases.

3. While some efforts have been made to analyze LULU responses using theories
from the study of social movements (Devlin and Yap 2008; Diani and Van der Heijden
1994; Flam 1994; Kitschelt 1986; Sherman 2011; Walsh, Warland, and Smith 1997),
only Boudet and Ortolano (2010) explicitly make use the political process model.

4. The Gulf Gateway Energy Bridge, the second offshore LNG proposal in the Gulf of
Mexico, was subjected only to an Environmental Assessment, a lesser version of an
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This decision came despite protests from the
National Marine Fisheries Service that an EIS should be required. All other offshore
LNG proposals in the U.S. were subjected to an EIS.

5. The author conducted all site visits except for one to Providence, Rhode Island, to
collect information about the KeySpan proposal. This site visit was conducted by R.

6. Interview protocols are available from the author upon request.

7. For the Gulf Landing project, additional interviews were conducted in New Orleans
because there was mobilization against the project there. The number of interviews
for the Gulf Landing proposals reported in Table 2 includes only these additional
interviews conducted in New Orleans.

8. My measure of threat is, to some extent, independent of public perceptions of the

risk posed by the facility but is consistent with the literature on facility siting, which
assesses the risks posed by a facility in terms of distance and technical factors.
Moreover, perceptions can easily be manipulated by mobilization efforts, meaning
they are not necessarily independent of the outcome of mobilization.

9. I selected 200 people per square mile as the threshold between low and high
population density by comparing population densities to my knowledge of each
affected community. Based on site visits, the onshore Gulf Coast projects were
located in low population density areas when compared to the other locations in our
sample. Indeed, with the exception of Brazoria County, all Gulf Coast projects are
located in counties with less than 100 people per square mile. I chose to include
Brazoria County as low population density because the higher population density of
this county is mainly driven by development in other parts of the county, particularly
those areas close to Houston. In fact, given the stark divisions in population density
between those proposals located in the Gulf Coast and elsewhere, I could have se-
lected the cutoff anywhere between 174 (Brazoria County, TX) and 784 (Gloucester
County, NJ).

Boudet 69
10. Although a few onshore facilities were initially proposed as open-loop systems,
such proposals were quickly switched to closed-loop due to negative reactions from
regulators who were concerned about the potential risk to biological resources in
near-shore estuaries.

11. This data is only available at the county level. Thus, for the cases where the af-
fected community was a city, county level data was utilized.

12. As an example, for the Mare Island Energy Project, which was announced in
May 2002, data on nonprofits in Solano County was taken from July 2001. The next
dataset on Solano County was only available for July 2002, which falls after the an-
nouncement of the proposal.

13. Scoring was validated by examining the number of internal organizations

appropriated into the opposition, as indicated via newspaper data and interviews. Re-
sults, shown in the technical appendix, corroborate scores, particular the difference
between low and medium / high resource communities.

14. Note that external governmental involvement carried more weight than NGO in-
volvement in my scoring scheme, based on interviewee responses. However, because
no cases in my sample involved government organizations without NGOs, this weight-
ing deserves additional study.

15. Sound Energy Solutions, the proposing company, sued to try to force the Port to
complete its review but lost when a judge dismissed the case in March 2008.

16. The Mare Island proposal is the only one in the sample that did not go through
an EIS process because it was withdrawn at the stage of leasing the land before the
company submitted an official application for governmental review. However, given
the amount of local opposition and the fact that local opponents were already con-
tacting state officials, I would argue that, had the company continued with the pro-
posal, it would have also attracted opposition from external governmental officials.

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74 Projections 11
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76 Projections 11
Down the Drain or Back to the Roots?
Political Ecology of the Water-Energy-
Food Nexus Visualized Using GIS in
Leh Town, Ladakh, India

Daphne Gondhalekar
Technical University of Munich

Adris Akhtar
University of Bonn

Urban water infrastructure development is often unable to keep up with
the rapid pace of transformation of cities in developing economies such as
India, impacting access to safe drinking water with concomitant water-relat-
ed health risks. Especially in regions where water is already scarce and which
are being affected by climate change, integrated urban planning inside a
political ecology framework enabling playing politics with principle partic-
ularly in terms of water resources management is urgently needed. The case
study of Leh Town, headquarter of Leh District and cultural capital of the
Ladakh region, is considered one of the fastest-growing small towns in India.
A fertile green oasis in a semi-arid high-altitude region of the Himalayas,
Leh has witnessed very rapid change of water consumption and wastewater
production patterns particularly in the past decades due to huge growth
of the tourism industry. Using WorldView-2 very high-resolution satellite
imagery of 2011, Google Earth imagery of 2003, Geographic Information
Systems (GIS) analysis and field survey conducted in 2012-14 we find that
drinking water resources are being polluted as a result of inadequate waste-
water management infrastructure. This study advocates a partially decentral-
ized wastewater recycling and reuse system as an alternative development
choice for long-term food, water and energy security as well as water-related
health risk reduction, and to enable Leh to be a lighthouse project for future
cities visioning.

Urban planning; political ecology; water resources management; health;
climate change; Geographic Information Systems (GIS); future cities vision-
ing; India

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 77


Rapidly transforming urban areas in developing economies such as India

face urgent water-related environmental challenges (Marcotullio, 2007). Lack
of adequate water and sanitation infrastructure rends urban populations
especially vulnerable to health risks (McGranahan et al., 2001; Alexander
and Ehrlich, 2000). This situation is being exacerbated by climate change
(Vrsmarty et al., 2000). Although one of the earliest examples of public
sewerage was found in the ancient Indus Valley (Jha, 2010), only 16 % of the
urban population in India today have access to adequate sanitation resulting
in large-scale open defecation and thus ground and surface water pollution
(WHO & UNICEF, 2006). Whilst decentralization in the water sector in India
has helped to empower local stakeholders, it has not ensured resource use
efficiency (Saravanan, 2009). Research has addressed this problem but in
a fragmented manner (Galea and Vlahov, 2005). To tackle the complex set
of issues surrounding urban health, new approaches are needed (Butsch
et al., 2012). Especially in regions where water is already scarce, trans-
sectoral or integrated urban planning is urgently needed to address water and
health challenges more effectively. Large cities have received much academic
attention, but there is still a dearth of studies on smaller cities. These are
facing huge development pressures with far less capacity to address them.
International experts may add to pressure by pointing at hygiene but with-
out engaging sufficiently to offer realistic integrated solutions, leaving local
governments to fall prey to business as usual options recommended by
international consultants.

In the 19th century, when centralized sewage systems were first developed,
these proved very effective in curbing water-related health risk caused by
lack of adequate wastewater management. The paradigm accompanying
this technological innovation, to use water only once, has been very persis-
tent in the face of water-related development challenges (Drewes, 2014).
Centralized sewage systems are water-intensive to operate: thus, in regions
facing water scarcity, alternative means of dealing with wastewater are
becoming increasingly important in order to conserve water resources (Lthi
et al., 2011). There are many alternative means of wastewater recycling and
reuse including Ecosan (Haller, 2010), with various inherent advantages such
as water conservation, nutrient recovery, lower maintenance cost, etc. (Tilley
et al., 2008), but they have rarely been implemented at the neighbourhood
scale (Sanimap, 2009). Instead, the flush toilet and centralized sewage sys-
tem, which have been termed ecologically mindless, remain a preferred
option (Narain, 2002) as a symbol of modernity.

Marx pointed out that economic growth entails political implications, and a
political ecology perspective assumes a mismatch between natural resourc-
es consumption and political aims. Political ecology studies on urban water
management have strongly focused on access to (drinking) water and water

78 Projections 11
governance (privatisation) issues in terms of globalisation (Bakker, 2003;
Swyngedouw et al., 2002; Swyngedouw, 2004; Swyngedouw and Heynen,
2010), within a general framework of the neoliberalisation of nature
(Heynen and Robbins, 2005) and social and environmental justice critiques
(Harvey, 1997, 2009). The cultural dimensions of such transitions figure
prominently in political ecology studies of (eco-) tourism (Stonich, 1998;
Duffy, 2000; Holden, 2008) but are underemphasised in political ecology of
urban water studies.

Development and implementation of innovative alternatives to business as

usual options may be hampered in several ways: it has been written that
technological development usually has a cumulative and patterned charac-
ter and technological paradigms have powerful heuristic features, so that
the efforts and technological imagination of engineers and of the organisa-
tions in which they work are blind to other technological possibilities
(OECD, 1992: 38-42). Technological change can however also be seen as re-
sulting from interactions of many actors (Poel and Franssen, 2002) who are
always capable of discovering new technologies, new behavioural patterns
and new organisational set-ups (Dosi, 1997). Further, the relation between
technological advancement and economic growth is complex: it is not clear
what drives implementation of innovation (Cimoli and Dosi, 1994). Although
innovation has often been effected by crisis (Drewes, 2014), alternative ways
to bring about a paradigm shift need to be found. To affect change, local
governments need to be enabled to play politics with principle (Saravanan
and Gondhalekar, 2013, 2014).

The aim of our study is to conceptualize such an alternative way by visual-

izing a trans-sectoral or integrated urban planning approach using a typical
case study example of a rapidly transforming small town. After explaining
the method of our study in section 2, we highlight interlinkages between
land-use change, water consumption and wastewater production in the
results section 3. In section 4 we discuss how these findings could be utilized
to inform an integrated urban planning approach supported by geographic
information systems (GIS) before concluding in section 5.

The case study: Leh Town

Leh Town is considered one of the fastest-expanding small towns in India
(Rieger-Jandl, 2005:123). Situated in a remote semi-arid region in the Hima-
layas at an altitude of 3,500 meters above sea level, Leh is a green oasis of
agricultural fields crisscrossed by streams with a dense historic center and
nestled between barren mountains (Fig. 1). Leh is the headquarter of Leh
District of the Jammu and Kashmir State of India and according to the 2011
Census of India has a population of 30,870 inhabitants. In addition, 40,000
army personnel live in Leh (Skeldon, 1985) and several tens of thousands
of migrant workers come to Leh every year. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 79

Development Council (LAHDC) has been governing Ladakh since 1995.

Figure 1. Geographical location of Leh Town, Ladakh, India

In Leh, water is a very limited commodity. Precipitation is only 115 mm

per year (Owen et al., 2006:384) therefore snow and glacial melt water is
the only available surface water. The apparent lushness of Leh is thus not a
natural occurrence, but the result of hundreds of years of extremely careful
water management. Until as little as a few decades ago, Ladakh was still
a largely self-sufficient traditional irrigation agriculture society (Norberg-
Hodge, 1991), but since 1974, when Ladakh was opened to tourism, the
number of visitors has increased exponentially, particularly in the last de-
cade: ca. 180,000 tourists visited Leh in 2012 (Fig. 2), mostly in the summer
months between April and October. In winter there are very few tourists due
to extremely cold temperatures.

80 Projections 11
Figure 2. Year-wise number of visitors and guesthouses and hotels opened in Leh
(Source: Tourist Board Leh)

To cater to these, hundreds of guesthouses and hotels (GH/H) have been con-
structed in Leh (Fig. 2). Although Leh has a masterplan published in 1996,
urban development is haphazard (Eichert, 2009:77). Growth of the tourism
industry and the accompanying increasing use of flush toilets and showers
is rapidly pushing up water demand and wastewater production. Traditional
sanitation, the Ladakhi dry toilet, does not require any water and in Ladakh
human faeces are commonly used as agricultural fertilizer. However, it does
have some hygiene challenges so that 99 % of tourists prefer the flush toilet
(Akhtar, 2010:57). The water supply and wastewater management systems
have been unable to keep up: the Public Health Engineering Department
(PHE) supplies over 80 % of Leh Towns water demand by groundwater ex-
traction in the summer months (LEDeG, 2010), but only manages to provide
water for 2-3 hours per day (Akhtar, 2010:71). Groundwater extraction is
not regulated: the India Groundwater Act has yet to be ratified in the semi-
autonomous Ladakh Region. Environmental pollution in Leh is already severe,
with 60 % of point sources of surface water pollution within 100 metres of
rivers and streams (Gondhalekar et al., 2013). Further, wastewater in Leh is
currently only collected in septic tanks and soak pits that are not properly
managed, so that groundwater pollution due to seepage is assumed. Sur-
face water is decreasing (Eichert, 2009:53) possibly as a result of climate
change, which is affecting groundwater recharge (LEDeG, 2010). Increase in
water-borne diseases such as hepatitis and diarrhoea were already recorded
in Leh over a decade ago (Bashin, 1999). Incidences of acute diarrhoea in
Leh still seem to be increasing, but this can not be causally linked to wa-
ter pollution (Gondhalekar et al., 2013). The food-grain import dependency
ratio of Leh is already 60 % (Pellicardi, 2010:89), and despite large-scale
hydro-power development, Leh faces regular power cuts, so that issues of
long-term food and energy security need also to be seriously addressed.

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 81

Therefore, an integrated water energy food nexus urban planning approach
is needed in Leh that can also address water-related health risk, which this
study aims to conceptualize.

Field surveys were conducted between July 2012 and April 2014 in
collaboration with our research partner, the Ladakh Ecological Development
Group (LEDeG), a local NGO. Building on existing data (Akhtar, 2010 and
Thoma 2006), we mapped new GH/H using geographic positioning (GPS).
We used geographic information systems (GIS) kernel density method using
quadratic kernel function (Silverman, 1986: 76) to spatially cluster points
of wastewater disposal and relate these to potential pollution of drinking
water resources. A WorldView-2 very high-resolution satellite image (ground
resolution 50 cm, DigitalGlobe, supplied by European Space Imaging)
of November 2011 served as a base map. To detect land use change, we
used Google Earth imagery from 2003 as a reference. We also conducted a
socio-economic questionnaire survey of 200 households, representing 5 %
of all HH in Leh, selected using an open-source random selection algorithm
(http://www.spatialecology.com/index.php, open source), questionnaire
survey of ca. 318 GH/H and semi-structured interviews with various local

Land use change and increase in barren land
There has been a huge increase in guesthouses and hotels (GH/H) to cater
to the surge of tourists visiting Leh in the last decades. In 1980 there were
only 24 GH/H in Leh, but by 2010 there were 282, and by 2013 the number
had increased to ca. 360 GH/H in business, with another ca. 60 not yet in
business or under construction (Fig. 3).

Leh has 21 wards, of which 10 have irrigated agricultural land area, whilst
the others are predominantly dry and desert-like. We find that over 90 % of
GH/H in Leh are located in its agricultural wards. Of these, 67 % of GH/H
are located in two agricultural wards directly adjoining the ancient town cen-
ter, Karzoo and Tukcha wards. Therefore, we focused on these as the wards
with the most rapid rate of urbanization, to identify trends that may become
relevant for other wards of Leh in the coming decades.

82 Projections 11
Figure 3. Increase in GH/H in Leh Town from 1980 to 2013

Urbanization in Leh is mainly in terms of GH/H construction as there are

only minimal cottage industries, and restaurants are usually integrated
into existing buildings. Other major land uses in Leh include wooded areas,
roads, riverbeds, and desert land. In 2003, agricultural land comprised ca.
45 % of Karzoo and Tukcha wards. We find that in these two wards, ca. 10 %
of agricultural land has been built up, and ca. 30 % of formerly agricultural
land has been left barren in the last decade (Fig. 4).

This trend is also visible in the results of the HH (households) survey: aver-
age income in Leh has doubled in the last decade. Agriculture was a source
of income for 28 % of the population ten years ago, but has since decreased
by 3 %. In the predominantly agricultural wards, the number of HH stating
that agriculture is a source of income has increased in the last ten years by 4
%. For those HH still engaged in agriculture in Leh, the amount of land being
farmed on average has decreased by 41 % in the past decade.

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 83

Figure 4. Land use change in Leh from 2003 to 2013

Water demand increase

In Leh, freshwater is supplied by a centralized and by a decentralized system.
Currently, PHE supplies following daily estimates during summer months
(PHE, 2013):
1-2 million litres extracted via 4 tube wells from the Indus River aquifer;
1,3 million litres extracted from various tube and bore wells inside Leh;
0,8 million litres channelled from various springs near the top of Leh.

Thus, PHE is currently providing 3 to 4 million litres of water per day and
most it through groundwater extraction via bore and tube wells. The Indus
River aquifer is used for PHE tube well extraction, while an aquifer below Leh,
fed by glacial and snow melt water, is used for private and PHE tube and bore
well extraction. The aquifer below Leh is very shallow, and at several loca-
tions, water bubbles directly from the surface in marshy areas. Water from
the Indus River aquifer is pumped ca. 300 m in vertical distance upwards
and several kilometres horizontally to reservoirs distributed in Leh, which is
very energy intensive, then distributed by a gravity pipe system with several
hundred public and private water taps and by water tankers. In addition,
hand pumps that draw water from the Leh aquifer at a maximum depth of
about 10 m are distributed throughout Leh. According to our survey, Leh has
46 public hand pumps. We find that 85 % of HH use PHE taps, 18 % hand
pumps, and 8 % bore wells as their drinking water source. Few HH have a
private bore well (20 bore wells owned by HH were surveyed by us), but some
only use these to water the garden.

However, 60 % of GH/H use a private bore well as a decentralized water sup-

ply source (Fig. 5), up from 42 % in 2009 (Akhtar, 2010:58). According to

84 Projections 11
our survey, reasons for the increasing use of private bore wells are that PHE
only provides water for 2-3 hours in the mornings, which is considered insuf-
ficient to run a GH/H with showers and flush toilets, and concern about PHE
water quality and low water pressure.

Of the surveyed GH/H, 186 GH/H stated rates of extraction: the total amount
of fresh water that these GH/H extract sums up to 690,000 l/day. Using this
data, we calculated high-density areas of groundwater extraction in Leh (Fig.
5), which predominantly overlap with the highest densities of GH/H in direct
proximity to the town centre. Outliers are large hotels that are removed from
the town centre to profit from a quiet atmosphere. Interestingly, spatially the
location of the pipeline is also close to the highest densities of groundwater
extraction, although it might be expected that water supply closer to the
pipeline could be better than far from it.

Figure 5. Decentralized freshwater supply

If we take an average of what GH/H are extracting, and multiply this by 60 %

of the total 360 GH/H which are currently in business, who are assumed to
a have a bore well, this figure comes to about 1 million litres being extracted
by GH/H in Leh. This is about one third to one quarter of the quantity that
PHE extracts daily and thus a sizeable amount that needs to be considered
in planning water supply of Leh holistically. The owner of a hotel with 18 en-

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 85

suite rooms interviewed reported extracting up to 8,000 l per day during the
tourist season. Nonetheless, awareness of the need for water conservation
in Leh seems to be high: according to our survey 99 % of GH/H owners are
interested in participating in a water-saving wastewater management pilot

Wastewater production and water pollution

In our survey ca. 30 % of HH thought that groundwater is being polluted due
to lack of adequate wastewater management GH/H. Therefore, we analysed
where potential drinking water pollution is occurring in terms of soak pits
and septic tanks belonging to GH/H, which we assume are producing vastly
more grey and black wastewater than HH. According to our survey, septic
tanks and soak pits in Leh are very poorly managed and hardly ever emptied
so that seepage and potential groundwater pollution is assumed. The goal
of this spatial analysis is to generate a GH/H wastewater discharge (WWD)
map of Leh for the tourist season, taking amount of wastewater and type of
treatment into account, to reveal areas with low to very high WWD.

Of the surveyed GH/H, 195 provided information on the number of beds

(NB), and type of wastewater treatment. We assume that all GH/H beds in
Leh are fully booked during the tourist season. A tourist uses ca. 75 l of wa-
ter per day (Akhtar, 2010). Wastewater is distinguished into Grey Water (GW)
and Black Water (BW) at a ratio of 2/3 GW and 1/3 BW (Akhtar, 2010). Next,
to calculate the amount of GW and BW produced by each GH/H per day, we
multiply NB by 50 l GW per day and 25 l BW per day. The resulting amount is
weighted by a factor (w) according to the type of GW and BW treatment used
by each GH/H in order to calculate grey water discharge (GWD) and black
water discharge (BWD), and the sum is the complete WWD:

WWD = GWD [NB*50*w] + BWD [NB*25*w]

We identified 3 different wastewater treatment types used by GH/H in Leh,

namely soak pits, septic tanks or other. We assume that using a soak pit
to dispose GW is an appropriate treatment and therefore we set 1 as the
weighting factor: if a GH/H uses other options rather than soak pits or
septic tanks for GW treatment, e.g. if it is collected and disposed of in an
open field or backyard, we consider this a worse option (weight 1.5). The
worst option is disposal of BW other than using a septic tank or a soak pit,
but this is normally not used by GH/H in Leh. Disposing the BW in a septic
tank is considered appropriate (weight 1) and in a soak pit inappropriate
(weight 2) (Fig. 6).

86 Projections 11
Figure 6. High densities of wastewater production and perception of groundwater

The WWD map resulting using kernel density method indicates where point
features are concentrated (Fig. 6). According to the World Health Organiza-
tion (WHO, 1996) drinking water extraction locations should be located at
a minimum distance of 30 m from WWD locations. We classified the WWD
determined earlier into 4 classes from low to very high amount of WWD and
by 3 classes in terms of pollution intensity of WWD: high, medium and low.
Next we overlaid all bore wells and hand pumps with the WWD map (Fig. 7)
and through a 3-dimensional buffer analysis (30 m vertically and horizon-
tally) identified sites of WWD that are too close to drinking water extraction
locations and thus may be impacting their quality.

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 87

Figure 7. Overlay of WWD sites and drinking water extraction locations

Out of the total of 284 water extraction locations in Leh we mapped (see
above), 180 (46 hand pumps, 9 private HH bore wells, 125 bore wells ho-
tels/GH) extract freshwater from less than 30 m depth. Out of these, 93 (of
which 92 are GH/H bore wells) are located within a 30 m radius of a WWD
area (Fig. 7). Out of these, 12 are located in an area with high amount of
WWD, 31 in an area with medium amount of WWD, and 50 in an area with low
amount of WWD. Thus we find that 33 % of freshwater extraction locations in
Leh are too close to sites of WWD and 4 % are too close to highly polluting
WWD sites. Thus, drinking water quality at these extraction locations may be
at risk. According to our survey, the average bore well depth of GH/H in Leh
is 33 m, thus these bore wells may generally be at risk. Nonetheless, GH/H
are producing about 1 million litres per day of wastewater, and this is a huge
underutilized resource.

Generally, the trend of urbanization in Leh is increase in consumption of
limited water resources and of built-up and barren agricultural land: various
ecosystem functions including evapotranspiration and food production and
hence food security may be seriously affected. So far official figures show

88 Projections 11
no decrease in agricultural land. To address food security in Leh, LAHDC is
planning to turn an expanse of desert area on the bank of the Indus River
opposite Leh into irrigated agricultural land. However, this may require huge
additional amounts of groundwater extraction or diversion of Indus River wa-
ters. Further, decrease in agricultural land also signifies decrease in irrigated
land area, which in turn may be impacting groundwater aquifer recharge.
The capacity of the groundwater aquifers is not known but is assumed to be
limited. As mentioned in the introducing section, groundwater extraction is
not regulated in Leh. According to our survey, inhabitants think that some
springs in Leh seem to have dried up because of high rates of groundwater
extraction. Huge amounts of energy are being used to lift water from ground-
water aquifers to Leh, although the town is already facing regular power cuts.
Therefore, further increase in water demand also has implications in terms
of energy security. The cultural landscape of Leh needs protection for long-
term sustainable development, ecological health and sustainable tourism
industry growth. To address existing limitations in Leh, water, energy and
food need to be considered as three sides of the same coin.

The Ladakh Vision Document promotes Ladakh as an eco-tourism destina-

tion and even an ideal society, and aims to conserve and protect water
resources, in practice this is difficult to implement as the environment is
commonly degraded due to lack of awareness or for short-sighted monetary
gains (LAHDC, 2005). To deal with the wastewater management issue in
Leh, LAHDC is planning to implement a centralized sewage system by 2040
designed by a Delhi consultant (Tetra Tech, 2009), based on the following

Population estimate for 2040 is 67,888 (not including tourists):

figure has been reached by using 5 different projection meth-
ods average.
Total length of sewerage pipes will be ca. 80 km of piping at
least 2 m below ground to avoid freezing.
One STP is planned below Leh in a barren area, where recycled
wastewater is to be used for agriculture and surplus discharged
to Indus River.
Average STP discharge: 13 million litres per day (MLD) in 2040
(7 MLD in 2015).
Project assumes 135 litres per capita per day (LPCD) water
supply, requires minimum 100 LPCD of wastewater to flush the
Operation and maintenance (O&M) cost is to be met by a ser-
vice charge.

This design of the centralized sewage system invites several questions. Tour-
ists numbers do not figure into it hence PHE is now planning to implement
the centralized sewage system without connecting GH/H. PHE currently aims

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 89

to provide every inhabitant in Leh with 70 LPCD. However, the design requires
PHE to provide almost twice as much LPCD just in order to flush the 80 km
long piping system. Wastewater from GH/H, if added to the system, could
help to flush the pipes and decrease the need to lift additional water. Accord-
ing to an interview with a PHE expert, the total cost of the centralized sew-
age system estimated in 2009 may now increase by 30 %. The consultant
assumes that HH will bear the O&M costs through an annual service charge.
However, even if all HH pay the service charge, only half of the O&M costs
will be met. Currently, only half of HH are paying for their PHE water con-
nection taps hence we may assume that also not all HH will pay the service
charge. Each HH will have to construct its own connection to the centralized
sewage system, so that HH may opt to continue disposing their wastewater
as before. Although the consultant spent several weeks in Leh, few consul-
tants from India have experience with implementation of centralized sewage
system under such extreme climatic conditions as those in Leh. This may
mean that O&M costs may turn out even higher than predicted. Finally, the
centralized sewage system, which aims to deal with wastewater in order to
protect groundwater resources quality, may not be able to meet the objective
of water-related health risk reduction because sewage pipes are planned to
run alongside freshwater provision pipes and there is high risk of seepage
due to very long pipes, harsh climate and rugged topography. PHE also sees
the main bottleneck in energy availability, as we find in our survey. Further,
99 % of HH in Leh use the traditional Ladakhi dry toilet in winter.

We recommend that the centralized sewage system is a suitable option for

Leh Old Town and other dense urban areas of Leh. However, as an alterna-
tive, a decentralized wastewater recycling and reuse system for the agricul-
tural wards area of Leh, where urban density is very low, may be a more
suitable option: if wastewater treatment occurs in several smaller STPs (Fig.
8), this may enable:

Less water required for flushing and hence less energy intensive.
Decrease in environmental pollution and seepage due to shorter
Renewable energy potential (solar power can be used to run
smaller pumps and biogas may be won from manure).
Using recycled wastewater for irrigation agriculture (also in win-
ter e.g. for vegetable production) and to regenerate barren land
(e.g. urban parks).
Nutrient recycling: continued use of manure rather than chemi-
cal fertilizers.
Recharging the aquifer proportionally to demand locally.
Potentially lower construction and O&M costs.
Potential eco-tourism and green jobs opportunities.
Wastewater treatment to be tailored to demand, potentially sav-
ing energy.

90 Projections 11
Figure 8. Centralized and decentralized sewage system options

One large hotel in Leh constructed its own private decentralized STP in late
2013 because all septic tanks were full and is currently testing the quality
of the recycled water. To implement a decentralized wastewater recycling
and reuse system effectively on a larger scale will require significant increase
in awareness of various stakeholders. Leh is very much in the international
focus as a summer residence of the Dalai Lama, who visits Leh every other
year, and destination for hundreds of thousands of spiritual and nature-lov-
ing visitors. Therefore innovation in Leh would have far-reaching visibility and
thus impact. Other towns in the region have already considered alternatives,
e.g. in Shimla (CSE, 2010) decentralized sewage treatment and wastewater
recycling has been implemented.

Prevalence of business as usual options seems to have various drivers, not

just in Leh but in many other towns and cities globally. But building decision-
support systems based on geographic information systems (GIS) at local
levels can support capacity building of local governments and help to enable
informed and innovative decision-making by enabling a visioning of alterna-
tive water futures. International, national and particularly regional actors
should strive to contextualize and innovate socio-technical and institutional
dimensions by playing politics with principle to enable an integrated water,
sanitation and hygiene strategy, in order to reduce the threat from water-
related diseases (Saravanan and Gondhalekar, 2013, 2014). In this, Leh has
the potential to be a future cities visioning lighthouse example.

Gondhalekar & Akhtar 91

Although the issue of climate change is so pressing, decentralized waste-
water recycling and reuse has rarely been implemented on a larger scale.
We tend to think that innovation is coupled with risk. But under climate
change, the opposite may hold true: implementing business as usual op-
tions, which have driven us to crisis, under uncertainty, may hold risk for us.
Alternative water futures need to be implemented at scales where their effec-
tiveness for the development of small and large towns and cities alike can be
monitored and evaluated, within a political ecology framework able to foster
and nurture such innovation. The water energy food nexus approach can help
to visualize and hence enable such a framework. If such innovation can be
achieved here, the case of Leh can serve as an innovation example for many
other contexts globally that are facing rapid urbanization in water-stressed
regions and hence water management challenges.

This research is supported by a Marie Curie International Reintegration
Grant within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (PIRG06-
GA-2009-256555) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) (KE 1710/1-
1), and is conducted in collaboration with the International Centre for Inte-
grated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

92 Projections 11
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Gondhalekar & Akhtar 97
98 Projections 11
An Environmental Anthropology of
Waste in Cairo: Contexts, Dimensions,
and Trends

Eman A. Lasheen
Harvard University

Waste management is often discussed as a series of abstract physical
processes. However, in reality these processes are almost always intertwined
with social and political aspects in the urban context that transform them
into tales of survival and struggles for social justice, particularly in devel-
oping countries. This paper studies the problem of solid waste manage-
ment in Greater Cairo from an anthropological perspective, investigating the
intersection between the environmental implications of the garbage crisis in
the city, the social justice issues in the scavenger settlements of Zabbaleen,
and the broader political framework. This is done through examining three
interrelated components: the contexts as socio-political spheres of action,
the dimensions as indicators of the magnitude of the problem, and the ap-
plied trends as physical embodiment of environmental policies. The aim of
this study is to highlight the importance of human-related factors such as
political attitudes, pro-environmental behavior and policy making on waste
practices in Cairo. It concludes by providing recommendations on how to
improve and further develop the waste management sector through adjust-
ing these elements.

Lasheen 99
Environmental anthropology is an established field of research dedicated to
the study of human and environment interactions (Kottak, 1999). Recently
these interactions have been most prominently reassembled in the culture
of consumerism (Wilson, Shienberg, & Casanova, 2012). With current and
expected growth in urban population, cities are becoming massive engines
of consumption. Subsequently, waste management problems are becoming
more complicated, widespread and diverse. The capacities of many exist-
ing waste management sectors often fail to adequately and evenly provide
basic waste services. This is especially tangible in cities of the developing
world- exacerbated by many factors such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of envi-
ronmental awareness and political and administrative corruption. The im-
pacts of failed waste management systems are very serious. The simplest
manifestation of the problem is the daily appearance of uncollected trash
accumulation that interrupts the physicality of streets and spaces. Grow-
ing at breathtaking rate, street garbage can provide breeding ground for
disease-causing vectors, clog drains, cause flooding, contaminate runoff and
threaten ecosystems. (Woodson, 2000)

Effective management of municipal solid waste (MSW) is one of the greatest

challenges facing local governments in developing countries today. From a
global perspective, waste production is remarkably fast growing. According
to a very recent report titled What a Waste produced by the World Bank
in early 2012, the worlds cities produce 1.3 billion tones of MSW per year
and are projected to produce 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Waste is also growing
more complex, further challenging effective management (Hoornweg & Bha-
da-Tata, 2012). This paper discusses the problem of failed SWM systems
from an anthropological standpoint. It aims at highlighting the interrelated
nature that binds social, political and environmental aspects in the Egyptian
urban context.

The Socio Political Context: Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice
The most predominant chant of demands, repeated by millions of the citys
outraged citizens during the 2012 Egyptian revolution was strikingly very
precise. The symbolic needs of bread, freedom, and social justice capture
the state of deprivation that was and still is pervasive in the Egyptian soci-
ety. However, the notion of social justice in public perception refers mostly
to wages, job opportunities and distribution of resources among all social
levels. Issues of environmental justice in general and the sociology of waste
in particular are a bit further in the mind. A logical interpretation of this
deficient meaning is that other social-economic stresses are overwhelmingly
distracting. In a mega city struggling against infrastructural, political, eco-
nomic, organizational, and legal challenges, waste is typically disposed of

100 Projections 11
without consideration for environmental concerns, human health issues, and
social impacts.

Many researchers argue that economical conditions should be listed as a key

cause of environmental degradation in third world countries, not only as a
form of resource deficiency but as an obstacle in the path of collective soci-
etal environmental awareness. Ingleharts post materialism thesis proposes
the notion that the inhabitants of poorer countries are less likely to demon-
strate environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviors (Inglehart,
1995). In one of the earliest works on urban waste management in Cairo,
Haynes and El-Hakim (1979) attribute the consideration of environmental
issues as low priority concerns among the public in comparison to the other
problems mainly to economic difficulties and overpopulation, when people
are poor, jobs are scarce, productivity is low, inflation is rampant, population
growth is high, and the per capita economy is stagnant, in what context does
one frame environmental considerations? (Haynes and El-Hakim, 1979).
Theres a great portion of truth in these studies however- solid waste man-
agement remains a responsibility of local governments and municipalities.
The absence of clear policies and environmental awareness on the higher
level is much more of a reason for the current state.

The Policy, Legislative, and Institutional Contexts

The Egyptian Environmental Policy Program (EEPP) was founded in 2002
to support policy, institutional, and regulatory reforms in the environmental
sector (Khayal & Zaki, 2010). One of the objectives of this program was
to improve efficiency and performance of the SWM sector through a com-
bination of strategic planning, improved administration, enhanced public
awareness, with a specific focus on supporting private sector participation
(Hamed, 2005).

An in-depth study of the program reveals stagnant and theoretical approach-

es, lacking greatly on real life solutions and clear implementation strategies.
Most of the regulatory policies are non invasive, directed towards attracting
foreign investors and local businessmen to act as stakeholders. The role of
the government then would be the planning, and arranging for the enabling
environment for businessmen to work safely (Bushra, 2000). The current
framework reflects the capitalistic vision from which privatization trends are
derived. The operational issues are then delegated to the second authority in
the hierarchy, which is that of the governorates and municipalities that then
define their individual strategies regarding the different aspects of the SWM
process. They are responsible for key issues such as scope definition, financ-
ing, public/private participation strategies, legal actions against violations,
and technical specifications (Khayal & Zaki, 2010).

While this hierarchic distribution of power in the formal process may seem
sound, theres a growing gap between policy and implementation. This could
be attributed to the ambiguity of the overarching framework in one sense and

Lasheen 101
the specificity of the responsibilities lying on the governorates shoulders in
another sense. This authoritative gap allows for nepotism, administrative
corruption, and bureaucratic practices. This gap is widened even more by
further distribution of authority among a number of ministries that tap into
waste management within the governorate. Currently the responsibility is
divided between the Ministry of State for Environment Affairs (MSEA/EEAA),
Ministry of Local Development, Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban De-
velopment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation,
and Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (Khayal & Zaki, 2010).
Without a clear identification of the role of each of these stakeholders, the
institutional framework will continue to dysfunction the way it does right now.

Another major obstacle is the absence of a strong legislative framework.

There has never been a clearly devised SWM law in the Egyptian Constitu-
tion. The existing set of laws and amendments in the Egyptian jurisdiction
are too general and insufficient. Moreover the absence of reliable law en-
forcement strategy is even more important. Nowadays the scene of a donkey
pulled cart dumping loads of garbage on a road right next to a police officer
is very common.

The Behavioral Context

It would be simply incomplete to draw the reasons of this crisis from policy
and legislative components only. How a society processes pro-environmental
behaviors depends partially upon individual beliefs and ethical/moral values,
and also upon infrastructural elements such as political and social systems
that might hamper or encourage pro-environmental actions (Rice, 2006). Be-
haviors such as public disposal of garbage and open burning are increasing
exponentially in the city. On an individual level, theres a state of careless-
ness that has evolved over the years about the impact of individual behavior
on the environment. No one seems to care about what happens beyond the
limits of their homes (Salama, 2004). Explanations provided for understand-
ing the causes of such indifference are various. Some relate it to a lack of
designated infrastructure such as collection services and street bins which
forces people to perform polluting activities against their will. Others at-
tribute these negative behaviors to absence of environmental awareness on
the dangers and risks related to the problems of waste management. This
area of research carries promising potentials for further studies, dedicated
towards the case of Cairo specifically.

The Social Justice Dimension
The Zabbaleen are considered the largest, most efficient, and most renowned
group of informal garbage collectors in the world. But certainly there are
many other scavenger based communities, which undeniably exist in third
world countries like the Muslim minority in Kolkata, India; the Roma gypsies

102 Projections 11
in Romania; and the Bangladeshis and members of the Muslim minority in
Delhi (Anschutz & Sheinburg, 2006). Most of the garbage collecting commu-
nities emerge and evolve around megacities. These communities share many
common aspects that emanate around their interest in the economic value
of waste. Most remarkably, the profession reflects a certain social affiliation
that is generally perceived as low status (Stix, 2012). Another commonality
is the unsanitary living conditions that are associated with scavenger settle-
ments. Health issues such as high mortality and morbidity rates (especially
among children), high incidence of animal epidemics, widespread illiteracy,
poor environmental conditions, and low income are all omnipresent in these
communities (Fahmi, 2005).

The Zabbaleen population in Cairo is divided upon 6 scatter settlements on

the outskirts of the city referred to as garbage villages (Anschutz & Shein-
burg, 2006). They are paid only minimal fees for their garbage collection ser-
vices by the citys inhabitants. Despite the crucial role they perform for the
overall wellbeing of the city, they are severely marginalized and low ranked in
society (Fahmi & Sutton, 2006). That, coupled by the extremely catastrophic
living conditions, its quite amazing how theyve managed to endure through
the decades, retaining their hardworking attitude and gratefulness for their
very little earnings.
The social ranking of Zabbaleen has not seen dramatic changes since their
start, being looked upon not in association with their vital role in cleanliness
of the city but as people who live with and earn a living from other peoples
refuse. They did however experience uplifting stances in their lifetime when
international institutions took notice of their practice (Furniss, 2012). The
international acknowledgment and media buzz created around them did in
fact re-introduce them as important stakeholders in society but not for long.
They are generally dubbed as garbage people, perceived as unclean, uned-
ucated and outcasts which according to them is very demoralizing (Iskandar,

The Environmental Dimension

In the dawn of the 2010 revolution, Cairos congested garbage problem hit
crisis level. According to the ministry of environments spokesman, Cairo
accounts for 55 percent of the countrys waste, producing 14,000 tons of
waste per day (Viney, 2012). The latest deterioration is due to contractual
disputes between the government and the foreign companies commissioned
to collect garbage from the capitals streets for years, according to Mohamed
Abdel Raziq, an official from the cleaning authority. Most of these companies
have stopped working pending the renegotiation of contracts. Currently it is
roughly estimated that only 60% the citys daily waste is collected by mixed
efforts from the remaining portion of private companies and the traditional
garbage collectors, the Zabbaleen, leaving around 8000 tons of garbage
unmanaged (Fahmi, 2005). City residents have no choice but to dump their
garbage at the nearest vacant land plot or open space. Moreover, low-in-
come residents living in dense urban areas who dont have the luxury of

Lasheen 103
empty plots or public space simply burn their refuse in front of their homes
(Furniss, 2012). In order to fully capture the dimensions of the present state,
a clear understanding of the historical transformations in the solid waste
practices is needed.

A Timeline of Waste in Cairo

Despite the fact that MSW is a responsibility of governments and munici-
palities, the earliest form of waste management system that has ever been
known in Cairo was established by people not by authorities, but by a col-
laboration that dates back to the beginning of the last century. The first
societal authority in this parallel government was a group of migrants from
the Dakhla oasis in the western Egyptian desert. They were called Wahiya,
which means oasis people. They settled in Cairo and embarked themselves
on managing the citys waste as a living (Neamatalla, 1998). The Wahiya
were picky collectors, interested in the economic value of their collected
refuse. That made them more focused on recyclable material like paper and
plastics, but not in organic household byproducts (Leven, 2005). As a result,
they only collected portions of the garbage that was available. They were
joined in the 1940s by another group of Coptic migrants from southern
Egypt, later to be named Zabbaleen or garbage collectors. This group used
to work in agriculture and as pig breeders in the rural south (Stix, 2012).
Confronted by crop failure, diminishing economic resources, and combined
with agrarian reforms by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, they were forced to
move towards he northern urban cities. At first they settled in tin squatters
houses in Imbaba, very near to the urban core of Cairo at that time (Didero,
2012). After being evicted from Imbaba, they were relocated to Muqattam in
1970. In 1975, when construction work on a Coptic Church began in Muqat-
tam, people started feeling more secure and thus more inclined to build
permanent stone homes instead of tin shacks (Neamatalla, 1998).

Together, these 2 symbiotic groups organized themselves into a highly func-

tional system involving distinctive roles in the waste management process.
The Wahiya acted as waste brokers, controlling the rights to the domestic
waste of Cairo, while the Zabbaleen rented collection routes from them and
were thus provided with access to waste as a resource (El-Hakim & Haynes,
1979). They spontaneously became involved in an integrated waste business
and initiated micro-enterprises composed of entire families operating on the
collection, sorting, and recycling of garbage. As the city expanded in both
size and population, so did the empire of garbage collectors.

By the 1980s, the Zabbaleen had developed a highly efficient, people based
waste management system and gained international recognition for having
the highest recycling rates in the world. They even surpassed Seattles re-
cycling rate of 37 percent, which was the highest in the US and most of
Europe at that time (Leven, 2006). This period marks two very important
transformations in the life of the Zabbaleen communities. The first was that
they were finally acknowledged and appreciated on an international level. A

104 Projections 11
global reputation was growing serviced by a phenomenal amount of research
about literally all aspects of the Zabbaleens life. The research acted as unin-
tentional publicity, highlighting the range of problems and challenges facing
these groups. The studies also caught the attention of many humanitarian
institutions and NGOs who were willing to provide substantial amounts of
funding for environmental projects dedicated towards improving the lives
of the Zabbaleen physically and technically. The most prominent of these
donors were the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, Oxfam, the Association
for Garbage Collectors (ACG), and the Association for the Protection of the
Environment (APE) (Fahmi & Sutton, 2006). These funds were directed to-
wards building schools, training individuals, financing micro enterprises and
further developing their recycling industry in specific and their community
in general.

The second milestone was in the form of a local political accreditation of

the Zabbaleens creative and well-organized practice. For the first time in the
history of SWM in Cairo, the government offered to partner with the them,
supported by professional expertise and foreign aid to legitimize and formal-
ize the Zabbaleens entrepreneurial system into a more established service
that would have the capacity, coverage, and technical proficiency to meet
the demands of the ever expanding city (Leven, 2006). Chronologically, this
particular incident in the course of the relationship between the formal and
informal sectors could be marked as an era of possibility for best practice.
The Zabbaleen started dreaming about better chances in life, the citys in-
habitants who were well serviced, and the city became relatively clean.

However this euphoric state of collective satisfaction of all stakeholders did

not last long. In the year 2000 the government started advertising plans for
relocating the Zabbaleens practice from their settlement at the Muqattam
area to a fairly distant new development 25 kilometers towards the eastern
Katamiya desert, claiming that their practices were too polluting and unhy-
gienic to be located near urban areas (Fahmi, 2005). Secondly, they were
confronted by the governments privatization of the sector, which involved
hiring multinational waste management companies to take over the Zab-
baleens routes and rights to waste collection. Fifteen-year contracts were
signed in 2002 with four international waste management companies to pro-
vide ISWM service in Alexandria and parts of Greater Cairo (Leven, 2006).
This was a very devastating move, threatening the survival of Zabbaleen. It
has also proved to be unsuccessful for many reasons. One of them is the so-
cietal preference of the door-to-door collection system of household waste,
provided by the Zabbaleen rather than street collection provided by the com-
panies. Another reason is the ongoing disputes between some of these com-
panies and authorities in charge of managing the contracts over particular
interpretations of some terms, delayed payments, and other administrative
issues (Fahmi & Sutton, 2006). Also, many observers include the complete
disregard towards the successful indigenous practice of the Zabbaleen and
not considering them as key actors in the waste process as a reason, despite

Lasheen 105
some unsuccessful attempts that were made to contain them within the pri-
vate companies.

Furthermore, with the onset of swine flu in 2009, one final blow was directed
at the Zabbaleen community. The government preformed mass slaughter
of all the pigs owned and raised in their settlements as a precautionary
procedure after increasing national fears over the possible outbreak of the
epidemic. The process of pig eradication was implemented in a fast, brutal
manner without any compensation to the pig owners. This step had very se-
rious implications on the recycling industry and the Zabbaleens existence.
Not only were the pigs used in the recycling process as consumers of organic
refuse, but they were also considered as economic assets for the Zabbaleen.
The Egyptian governments decision was criticized by many by locally and
internationally not only as an act of inhumanity against the animals but as
an unnecessary step that had nothing to do with swine flu prevention, since
no cases had been detected at that time (Furniss, 2012). The outcomes of
this cull were soon visible as piles of organic waste the pigs once consumed
started showing up on Cairos streets, posing serious health risks.

From that date onward, the SWM system in Cairo has been a chaotic scene of
unsynchronized and inadequate efforts. The recent political upheaval against
the Mubarak regime and the instability that followed is not a main cause of
the problem as many of the officials are trying to imply. The events have in-
deed provided conditions for a state of idleness in many aspects of life in the
city, but are definitely not the root cause of the problem. The Zabbaleen, as
with many other Egyptian citizens, have been aspiring for reform. They were
hoping for tangible changes in policies that improvise the SWM sector. So far
this anticipated change has not been seen. When Mohammed Morsi of the
Muslim Brotherhood Party was elected President of Egypt in 2012, he vowed
to resolve Egypts waste management issues in his first 100 days in office.
It was said that this would be done through a waste management strategy
that would replicate Turkeys current system without any further detail (Stix,
2012). The plan lacked any elaborations on the position of whether the Zab-
baleen would be included in the formal waste management system or not,
and the roles in which they might be reintroduced into the waste business
has never been mentioned.

A general consensus derived from the examination of the historical trans-
formations in the sector is the intrinsic nature that binds the environmental
conditions in the city with the practices of the Zabbaleen community. One
can easily draw parallels between each major setback that has affected the
Zabbaleen over the course of this last decade and the immediate conse-
quences on the environmental quality in the city. It is therefore evident that

106 Projections 11
SWM policies are definitely detrimental to the environmental protection and
social justice simultaneously. The privatization policies have demonstrated
significant unfavorable social and environmental outcomes that prove the
system to be defective. Despite the governments defense of the system as
an important step towards integrated solid waste management, the sys-
tem has visibly failed to address the basic issues of ecological, social and
economic sustainability (Didero, 2012). The companies are only required
to achieve recycling rates of 20%, which is incomparable to the traditional
recycling rates of 80%, and yet they dont even get close to that in reality
(Fahmi, 2005). The services provided are very often insufficient in terms of
technical equipment like street bins, loaders, trucks, recycling and compost-
ing facilities, and workers.

The inconsistency of the collection services and the new billing system im-
posed by the government through the monthly electricity bills have culmi-
nated into waves of public dissatisfaction. The idea was to collect a monthly
fee for garbage collection from every household estimated according to the
amount paid for electricity, as an indicator for social status. It was said that
this would guarantee that the fee was reasonably and fairly calculated. There
was no way not to pay since the amount was included automatically to the to-
tal bill. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the government for add-
ing these fees without prior public consent, claiming that this was against an
article in the Egyptian Constitution (Leven, 2006). Most importantly, many
reports have documented very recent violations on behalf of these compa-
nies resembled in garbage dumping all around the Cairo ring road, in the
desert, and in rural irrigation canals, instead of the designated disposal
facilities (Viney, 2012).

From a social justice perspective, privatization trends brought in more eco-

nomic and psychological burden, which increased the social vulnerability of
Zabbaleen as low-income minorities. With a painful history of serial evic-
tions, uncertainties about relocation plans and the takeover of their profes-
sion through privatization, they became desperate and helpless.

In the specific case of Cairo, there is an implicit political legacy of de-prior-
itizing environmental issues- what could be described as a form of political
avoidance of complicated environmental problems. The official announce-
ments that follow any environmental problem in the city, starting from gar-
bage pileups, the black cloud, etc., are always superficial, short-termed and
defensive. One possible reason for this attitude is the absence of true con-
cern about sustainability in itself. In fact the issues of environmental protec-
tion have never been a priority to any previous government. Furthermore,
according to Gomma (1997), in Egypt, one of the main reasons that environ-
mental issue surfaced on the governments policy agenda was because for-
eign donors were willing to finance and support environmental projects that

Lasheen 107
would result in sustainable development. Salama Ahmed Salama, a promi-
nent Egyptian writer in AlAhram Weekly stated the following:

The attention accorded to infrastructure, tourist and investment projects

answers, first, to the interest of businessmen, while the prioritizing of partic-
ular neighborhoods is equally divisive. The results we see everywhere, as any
sense of belonging is undermined, and the piles of rubbish grow (Salama,

A second reason is the lack of technical, ground-based implementation

expertise. The approach is always more passive, dedicated to temporary
solutions and not focused on the roots (Hamed, 2005). These findings reso-
nate with a survey conducted by Eric Denis in his book, People and Popula-
tion, which found that out of 2000 respondents only 19 percent of thought
that the Egyptian government is concerned about environment issues (Leven,
2006). This depicts the populations lack of faith in the policies applied by
the government.

This political avoidance is very often masked by cosmetic actions that dem-
onstrate a lack of both vision and true intention to change the current condi-
tions. An example of these politically motivated interventions is a one-day
campaign called Clean Homeland, announced by ousted president Mo-
hamed Morsi in the very first months of his term, encouraging people to get
out of their homes and collect garbage from streets and lots for municipal
trucks to haul away. Many people responded positively to this call and some
piles were removed. The very next day, new piles started building up once
more. It was also very frustrating to the garbage collectors- when Morsis
Clean Homeland campaign coordinators didnt respond to their calls for
discussion and ideas on how to address the citys severe waste problems
(Viney, 2012).

After almost one year of political turmoil in the aftermath of Morsis ouster
and the enactment of a military coup, the future of Egypts environmental
and social wellbeing is looking more stressful and less onto the path of re-

The outcomes of this paper resonate with many previous research findings
on the importance of enhancing, developing and reintroducing the Zabba-
leen into the waste management process. A summary of hypotheses formu-
lated form the study is presented below:

The environmental anthropology of waste in Cairo is best de-

scribed as a deeply rooted relationship between the notions of
cleanliness and justice in the city. A solution for the problem

108 Projections 11
must involve looking into both aspects.
The state of complete social vulnerability of the Zabbaleen
community and the citys current garbage crisis is a physical
depiction of failed environmental policies.
A political shift in paradigm with real intentions to prioritize
waste management is the only way towards reaching a sustain-
able solution.
There is great need for behavioral studies that examine cultur-
ally suitable ways of improving the peoples attitude towards
waste disposal and perception of the Zabbaleens profession.
A detailed study of legislative reforms in the SWM laws is high-
ly recommended.

Theres no magical solution for the SWM problem in Cairo, However, the
contexts are clear, the dimensions are interrelated and the trends can be

Lasheen 109
Anschutz, A., & Sheinburg, J. (2006). Slim pickins: Supporting Waste Picers in the
Ecological Modernization of Urban Waste Management. International Journal of Tech-
nology Management and Sustainable Development, 5(3), 263.

Bushra, M. (2000). Policies and Institutional Assessment of Solid Waste in Egypt.

Plan Bleu.

Carl, A. R., & William, L. Z. (2011). Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social
Science of Garbage. SAGE publications.

Didero, M. (2012). Cairos Informal Waste collectors: A Multi-Scale and Conflict Sen-
sitive Perspective on Sustainable Livelihoods. ERDKUNDE 66(1), 27-44.

El-Hakim, S., & Haynes, K. (1979). Appropriate Technology and Public Policy: The
Urban Waste Management System in Cairo. Geographical Review, 69(1), 101-108.

Fahmi, W.S. & K. Sutton (2006). Cairos Zabaleen garbage recyclers: Multi-nationals
takeover and state relocation plans. Habitat International, 30(4), 809-837.

Fahmi, W. (2005). The impact of privatization of solid waste management on the Zabaleen
garbage collectors of Cairo. Sage Publications.

Furniss, P. J. (2012). Metaphors of Waste: Several Ways of Seeing Development and

Cairos Garbage Collectors. Oxford, UK: Oxford University.

Gomma, S. (1997). Environmental Policy Making in Egypt. Florida: University Press of

Florida, Gainesville.

Hamed, S. (2005). Egypt. In R. C. Foltz, Environmentalism in the Muslim World (pp.

37-53). Nova Publishers.

Hoornweg, D., & Bhada-Tata, P. (2012). What a Waste, A Global Review of Solid
Waste Management. World Bank Urban Development Series Knowledge Papers.

Inglehart, R. (1995). Public Support for Environmental Protection: Objective Prob-

lems and Subjective Values in 43 Societies. Political Science and Politics, 15, 57-71.

Iskandar, M. (Director). (2009). Garbage Dreams [Motion Picture].

Khayal, A., & Zaki, T. (2010). Country Report on Solid Waste Management in Egypt.

Kottak, C. P. (1999). The New Ecological Anthropology. American Anthropologist,

101(1), 23-35.

Leven, R. (2006). The Pharaohs Garbage: Growth and Change in Egypts Waste.
Nimep INSIGHTS, 55-70.

Neamatalla, M. (1998). Zabbaleen Environment & Development Program. MCP-


110 Projections 11
Rice, G. (2006). Pro-Environmental Behavior in Egypt: Is There a Role for Islamic
Environmental Ethics? Journal of Business Ethics, 65(4), 373-390.

Salama, S. A. (2004). Garbage for All. Alahram Weekly, July 28, 2004.

Stix, M. (2012). Treasure Amidst Trash: Preserving Community in the Worlds Larg-
est Garbage City. Shifting Perspectives. International Center for Ethics, Justice, and
Public Life, Brandeis University.

Viney, S. (2012). Zabaleen sidelined by Morsys clean homeland campaign. Egypt

Independent, August 12, 2012.

Wilson, D. C., Shienberg, A., & Casanova, L. (2012). Solid Waste Management in the
worlds cities. Netherlands: UN-HABITAT.

Woodson, P. (2000). Solid Waste. NALBOH - National Association of Local Board of


Lasheen 111
112 Projections 11
Designed Experiments for Transfor-
mational Learning: Forging New
Opportunities Through the Integration
of Ecological Research Into Design

Alexander J. Felson
Yale University

Landscape and urban designers are increasingly drawing on ecological
understanding to inform the sustainability and resilience aspects of their
projects. The design practitioners working on these projects rely on environ-
mental consultants, professional ecologists, as well as urban ecology as the
points of references for these purposes. However, they are confronting gaps
in the understanding of urban ecosystems and of what constitutes a sus-
tainable or resilient urban landscape. Research to fill those gaps is limited
and can be out of sync with the timeframe of design projects. As a result,
what is incorporated as the sustainability aspects of design projects are not
necessarily supported by relevant scientific evidence. Given that ecologists
have limited functions as consultants in design projects, designers often at-
tempt to translate ecological concepts into design strategies on their own,
raising the added question of the capacity of the designer to translate the
science into practice. Notwithstanding these issues, the demand for the inte-
gration of ecology into design is an opportunity for designers and ecologists
to collaborate. On the one hand, ecologists seek to understand and study
urban ecosystems quantitatively and qualitatively. On the other hand, de-
signers seek a more rigorous approach to building and monitoring sustain-
able and resilient urban ecosystems. Fostering this integration can deepen
our understanding of what is sustainable and resilient; and brings this
understanding to bear on urban design. Designed experiments provide one
approach to situate urban ecological research as designed urban spaces
and installations through the design process. Building on the concept of
designed experiments and a review of precedents, this paper explores ways
of deepening the relationship and integration of ecology and design with the
goal of informing future collaboration.

Felson 113
A simultaneous movement is underway in both landscape architecture and
ecology to reframe the relationship of science to practice. Ecologists are
looking to action science as in the Earth Stewardship Initiative to clarify what
needs to be studied, expand on how scientific research can inform shaping
strategies, improve communication among multiple parties via interdisci-
plinary strategies, and identify pragmatic actions for scientists (Chapin et al.
2011, Felson et al. 2013a). Concurrently, landscape architects are seeking
to improve the evaluation of the sustainability of designed landscapes such
as through the Landscape Architecture Foundations Landscape Performance
Series (LPS), a program aimed toward promoting the integration of monitor-
ing as evidence-based science into designed projects.

Both initiatives represent an attempt to foster integration and interdisciplin-

ary cross-fertilization of practices and ideas within each of the respective
fields. For instance, through the Earth Stewardship Initiative, some ecolo-
gists are making a shift from studying ecosystems to shaping them and in so
doing are assuming a role approximating that of designers (Figure 1). Con-
comitantly, designers employing evidenced-based science and monitoring of
built projects are increasingly drawing on ecologists research and monitor-
ing strategies and so mimic the functionality of ecological researchers. One
example is Seven Ponds Farm (Figure 2) where the design team, Nelson
Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, transformed what was once overgrazed
pastureland into a designed restoration of grassland and meadow and forest
focusing on biodiversity and ecological services. Working with the property
owners, Woltz established restoration experimentation emphasizing the criti-
cal importance of ongoing monitoring in the designed landscape (Aronson
and Handel 2013).

It is important to underscore that programs like the Earth Stewardship Ini-

tiative and LPS are still in the developmental stages particularly as regard
frameworks and approaches, and gaining buy-in amongst professional so-
ciety members as well as in establishing a track record. Moreover, they are
largely being carried out as distinct disciplinary initiatives limiting to some
extent their impact, either intended or prospective, i.e., in enhancing our
understanding of sustainable design, or more broadly the ecological under-
standing of urban ecosystems. In the case of the LPS, the approach has
been to establish post implementation monitoring and assessment of exist-
ing built projects focusing on performance metrics. This approach will gen-
erate site-specific information about how the one-off designed landscapes
perform. However, the approach leaves out the role of hypotheses and ex-
perimentation design as a means of analyzing aspects of designed land-
scapes to inform our broader knowledge. As a result, the monitoring being
performed is not framed around critical research questions and therefore
does not further basic science.

114 Projections 11
Figure 1. Ecological planning project. Image by Ecological Society of America

Figure 2. Seven Ponds Farm. Photo by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Felson 115
These initiatives, nonetheless, provide a foundation upon which to build. This
foundation lies in the theoretical framework offered by the shifting role of
ecologists in the Earth Stewardship Initiative, and the structured relationship
between design and research in the LPS. In both cases, the ecologist and
landscape architect are situated in new roles.

Designed Experiments for Transformative Learning

To optimize the impact of these shifting roles, and to further deepen the
relationship of science to practice, a transdisciplinary approach known as
designed experiments are being advanced as an effective iterative process
where ecologists and designers can collaborate and work out relationships
to deconstruct disciplinary barriers and increase integration. To this end,
designed experiments utilize the creative design process to situate experi-
ments as components of urban spaces (Felson and Pickett, 2005, Felson et
al. 2013b), allowing ecologists to shape built environments by influencing
how they are designed, constructed, evaluated, and maintained and also al-
lowing designers to more effectively integrate ecological research into design
projects to inform resilient and sustainable projects. Designed experiments
have already been applied to the design and implementation of numerous
real-world urban sites (Felson et al. 2013a).

At the core of designed experiments is the redefinition of the relationship

between ecologist and designer in the design process itself, thus advancing,
in a concerted and coordinated manner, the efforts underway in both ecol-
ogy and in design to study and shape urban ecosystems (Felson et al. 2013).
From the ecologists perspective, the design process opens up opportunities
to integrate experiments into urban spaces that can further enrich ecological
understanding of urban ecology, expand the conception of urban space and
reveal synergies across disciplines. For the designer, the incorporation of
experimentation into design establishes a legitimate synergy with ecological
science that goes beyond the metaphorical and supports the development of
evidence-based sustainable design. In short, through designed experiments,
the opportunity exists to systematically embrace the shifting roles of ecolo-
gists and designers and in so doing enhance our application of evidence
based sustainable and resilient landscapes.

The ecologist in this context is re-positioned as an active participant in the

design process, working collaboratively with designers from the start of a
design through to the post-construction phase, including the ongoing assess-
ment of the built results (Figure 3) (Johnson and Hill 2002; Nassauer 2012;
Felson et al. 2013). This feature marks a departure from the traditional col-
laboration between ecologist and designer and fosters the transdisciplinary
nature of the approach.

116 Projections 11
Figure 3. Mapping the design process for urban ecology. From Felson et al. (2013b)

In pedagogy and practice, designers have a history of utilizing ecological

concepts and outcomes of ecological research to inform design (McHarg
1969, Spirn 1984, Johnson and Hill 2002, Forman 2008). That is to say,
they translate their understanding and interpretation of those concepts and
outcomes into projects. For example, Kate Orffs Oystertecture uses the oys-
ter life cycle to create a harbor nursery linking the biological processes of
an organism to the scales of remediation of a harbor ecosystem (Figure 4).
This translation has been an important means of infusing design projects
with ecology, and of synthesizing a range of multi-disciplinary and multi-
stakeholder inputs into projects. A further example of this is the application
of data or spatial mapping in new ways through design such as in Anuradha
Mathurs and Dilip da Cunhas (2001) book Mississippi Floods: Designing a

Figure 4. Oystertecture. Images by SCAPE Landscape Architecture

Felson 117
Figure 5. Alluvial valley of the Lower Mississippi River. Map by Harold Fisk, 1944

Shifting Landscape which reinterprets geographer Harold Fisks extensive

maps of the Mississippi River (Figure 5). This translation and synthesis can
lend itself to a more loose and metaphorical application of the science which
can have its own constraints or emergent qualities depending on what infor-
mation the designer relies on, how the information is applied, and how it is
synthesized with other aspects of a design.

To elaborate, design intended to provide ecological solutions often do not

rely on site-specific research but on observation and the translation of broad
ecological theory. In translating ecological theory, designers can disregard
underlying assumptions and context specific ecological factors that may not
be applicable to designed landscapes or even to urban conditions. Among
ecologists, there is a growing literature on urban ecosystems (Grimm et al.
2008, Pickett et al. 2011, McDonnell 2012, Adler and Tanner 2013, Forman
2014) including non analogous novel ecosystems in human dominated land-
scapes (Lundholm et al. 2012, Kowarik 2011); but these are still relatively
new areas of research and in many cases supported with limited studies
and anecdotal information (Pataki et al. 2011). Consequently, the current
working understanding of urban ecosystems and of what constitutes a sus-
tainable or resilient urban landscape is changing (Collins et al. 2010). Given
these limitations, what is being relied upon to inform ecological solutions
may not be applicable, especially in the urban context.

Moreover, in re-interpreting outcomes of ecological research and ecological

118 Projections 11
Figure 6. Proposal for Downsview Park, Toronto, 1999. Images by James Corner
Field Operations with Nina-Marie Lister

theory and synthesizing these with other issues to fit into a design, the de-
signer may not fully reflect on the meaning or the theory of those outcomes.
As seen in the case of Downsview Park, the theory of ecological succession
was evoked as the basis of the design (Figure 6). However, arguably, the
design is more appropriate to the theory of island biogeography including
habitat patches and corridors, and less relevant to succession.

When designers weave ecological concepts into design there is no peer review
to ensure that they accurately reference underlying ecological theories. For
ecologists, peer review is relied upon to critique ecological research meth-
ods, outcomes and analysis. They collectively build on peer-reviewed work to
seek and develop a shared understanding of ecological theory (e.g. Boone et
al. 2012). The loss in translation and lack of a peer review process in design
constrain the ability of designers to address gaps in scientific knowledge.

While this translation and synthesis can be seen as an imminent constraint

particularly from the ecologists perspective, being able to synthesize multi-
ple variables is a valuable process for designers. The synthesis of multi-dis-
ciplinary concepts, together with social cultural economic and environmental
conditions is fundamental to creative design. In some cases, designers may
re-evaluate ecological concepts for their aesthetic or representational value,
and not so much for their operational or functional value. This repurposing
of the concepts has given rise to the concept of designer ecologies (Ma-
rie-Lister 2007). For the purposes of ecology and ecological design, these

Felson 119
aspects of the design process can be useful to further urban ecological un-
derstanding and societies understanding of resilience and sustainability
(Czerniak 2007). Designed experiments capitalize on this potential on the
design side.

On the ecology side, examples of integrative efforts with design also exist
and can inform the development of designed experiments. These include:
adaptive management, where ecologists seek to translate ecological princi-
pals into management and design strategies (Pulliam 2002, Barthel et al.
2010, Cook et al. 2004, Marie-Lister 2012), urban restoration ecology (Faeth
2005, Alberti 2015), brownfields reclamation (Kirkwood 2001), green infra-
structure (Hobbs et al. 2006, Pataki et al. 2011), conservation biology and
landscape ecology (Dramstad 1996, Forman 2003), and design of habitat
corridors (Hilty 2006). In addition, ecologists are increasingly working di-
rectly with designers as consultants, for example, in Steven Handels work on
the Brooklyn Bridge Park and Applied Ecological Services role on the Fresh
Kills Project (Figure 7). Notwithstanding these efforts, researchers are still
exploring options for a conceptual framework to facilitate ecological research
in urban environments (Cadenasso and Pickett 2008, Boone et al. 2012).

Despite recent shifts in the theoretical understanding of the broader impact

of humans on ecosystems (Kareiva et al. 2007) and the growing influence of
applied ecology, much of what constitutes urban ecological knowledge relies
on assumptions from research carried out in environments where people have
less impact. Urban ecologists have often studied ecology in cities focusing
on remnant ecological patterns and processes, such as extant wildlife and

Figure 7. Habitat diversification, Fresh Kills Park. Image by Field Operations

120 Projections 11
flora (Angold et al. 2006), and in so doing leave out other critical drivers of
urban ecology such as social, economic and political factors. Notably, more
recently ecologists have shifted from ecology in cities to ecology of cities
(Pickett et al. 2008) where they explore coupled human natural systems and
social-ecological systems (Tbara and Chabay, 2013). Still, the limitations
in the theories, standardized language (MacGregor-Fors 2011), and existing
research and data make it challenging to infer urban ecosystem structure
and processes that translate science into practical design applications and
management tools (Cadenasso and Pickett 2008). Researchers are discover-
ing and demonstrating that assumptions about urban ecosystem structure
and function often differ from expectations. This is true from an ecosystem
perspective in terms of hydrology and biogeochemistry (Kaye et al. 2006,
Groffman et al. 2004), urban biodiversity (Faeth et al. 2011, McKinney 2006,
Sukopp 2008 ), succession (Burghardt et al. 2011, Robinson and Handel
2000), pollination, animal behavior, morphology and genetics (Shochat et al.
2006). Addressing these methodological, theoretical, and data limitations is
key to advancing urban ecology.

Some of the challenges that urban ecologists must address in conducting

research on urban ecosystems and developing a compelling theory for incor-
porating social systems and institutions in ecological terms include: deter-
mining ways of incorporating socioeconomic factors even more so than bio-
logical ones as drivers of urban ecosystem structure and process; defining
a common terminology for comparability of results across locations (Mac-
Gregor-Fors 2011); explicitly incorporating temporal dynamics (Ramalho and
Hobbs 2012); and conducting studies at multiple spatial scales (Clergeau et
al. 2006) and over longer timescales and larger landscapes (Robertson and
Hull 2001). These challenges necessitate the development of a more holis-
tic framework for understanding these complex drivers (Grove et al. 2009).
Within this framework the interpretation of biological systems must take
place alongside interpretation of human decision-making, programming,
dwelling, and other patterns (Alberti et al. 2014). Beyond these challenges,
fundamental questions still remain regarding the scope of the field, the defi-
nition of urban ecosystems, and the role people should play as components
of their larger ecosystems (Weiland and Richter 2009). Moving the discipline
forward will require expanding the breadth of knowledge beyond variables
historically considered in ecology. This expansion requires revisiting the re-
lationships between ecologists and other disciplines, navigating the physical
constraints of cities, and addressing social structures to include the influ-
ence of norms, rules, learning capacity, power, and technology.

Examples of this can be found in Baltimore and Phoenix where urban ecol-
ogy is being developed through long-term ecological research (LTER), funded
by the National Science Foundation. For ecologists, these funded projects
have played critical roles in beginning to overcome some of the aforemen-
tioned barriers, and to amass data on how urban ecosystems change over
time. Already, both urban LTER sites have established a series of long-term

Felson 121
measurement programs.

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), under the direction of Steward Pick-
ett, focuses on applying new theories and integrating biological, physical,
and social sciences through research, education, community engagement
and outreach. BES has set up monitoring stations for long term data on fac-
tors including nitrogen retention across urban landscapes (1993-present),
nitrous oxide fluxes in lawns and forests (1998-present), and fluctuations
in urban riparian water table, nitrate and phosphorous concentrations at
multiple locations along a watershed (Pickett et al. 2011). In addition, they
have long-term data on a variety of social factors including governance net-
works, land use management practices, housing data, household income,
and locational choices for homeowners and companies. At the Central Ari-
zona Project-Long Term Ecological Research, researchers have developed a
phosphorous budget (Metson et al. 2012) and are also developing a carbon
budget for Phoenix metropolitan region. The complex and heterogeneous
conditions have made it difficult to attain data for an accurate account of the
carbon dynamics. In addition, the conceptual frameworks for these LTERs
have shifted. For example, Baltimore has gone from patch dynamics, to the
sustainable city, to resilient cities and is shifting again for the latest funding

Designed experiments can complement these existing long term studies,

by utilizing the design of large scale urban design, infrastructure, and land-
scape projects as opportunities to introduce research experiments and in-
sert monitoring devices in locations that have otherwise been inaccessible.

Design Process for Iterative Learning

By establishing a core role for the ecologist from the start of the design
process, designed experiments realign the research goals of the ecologist,
the aesthetic goals of the designer, and the sustainability goals of the client
(Felson et al. 2013b). In this way, the experiment is as critical to the design
and to satisfying the clients needs as is the design to the experiment. It
builds on the advantages of the design process to synthesize multiple vari-
ables enabling ecologists to navigate the complexity of conducting research
in human dominated and influenced landscapes. At the same time, in linking
ecological experiments to urban landscapes, it can generate more relevant
and much needed data on urban ecosystem processes (Pataki et al. 2011)
and advance broader environmental education goals (Robertson and Hull
2001). In addition, the experiments themselves inhere the public identity
and cultural relevance of the design.

Given that the design process entails multiple stages for interface with com-
munity, political, and regulatory processes necessary for building in urban
areas, collaborating with designers through the design process is particular-

122 Projections 11
ly advantageous for ecologists. Establishing research in urban environments
requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders to the intrinsic value of research
to a project. By situating experiments as an integral part of the design of a
project, both ecologist and the designer are better placed to advocate jointly
for the realization of the project as a whole.

Designers can also assist in addressing the actual site selection and lay-
out of experiments: choosing sites, configuring treatments and establish-
ing comparable replicate and control studies. Ecological researchers have
historically sought to minimize the potential for disturbance of a research
site by people and as well to make the research inconspicuous. In an ur-
ban environment (such as a heavily used park), however, ecologists are hard
pressed to avoid such disturbance. Urban ecologists moreover have come
to the realization that, in order to study the dynamic relationships among
humans, other organisms, and their environment, they must rely on more
assumptions and accept greater levels of uncertainty in their research than
in controlled experiments (Robertson and Hull, 2001). Through the design
process, ecologists have a useful entry point to situate research in urban
landscapes (Felson et al. 2013) and further through collaboration with the
designer address some of the challenges with producing replicable data
or data that yields high probability rate, controlling variables and defining
boundaries between research space and public space so as to generate
long-term, comparable quantification of urban processes and patterns. For
the designer, the collaboration will require going beyond post-construction
measurement of performance, to support integrating hypothesis driven ex-
perimentation with controlled variables and a testable experimental design
across multiple locations.

The track record of designed experiments thus far has exemplified how the
design process can effectively serve as a structured framework to facilitate
collaboration between ecologists and designers in a manner that mutually
reinforces and advances the interests of both fields. In the following exam-
ples, we demonstrate how designed experiments work in practice.

NY-CAP MillionTreesNYC 2009

One example of a designed experiment is the New York City Afforestation
Project (NY-CAP), part of the Million Trees Project.

Given the limited number of experimental urban forestry studies and the
brief duration of most studies, research projects exploring longer-term eco-
logical dynamics are essential for evaluating afforestation dynamics (Oldfield
et al. 2013). With the intent of collecting data that would better inform future
park management practices and capital decisions, the NY-CAP design team
including professional ecological consultants worked with the New York City
Department of Parks and Recreation to pursue hypothesis-driven research
focusing on forest performance and evaluation management practices within
the development of an urban park. Together they integrated testable hypoth-

Felson 123
eses into the design, construction and monitoring of an urban forest (Felson
et al. 2013) (Figure 8).

NY-CAP facilitates urban forest research to refine our understanding of the

performance and viability of a constructed urban forest in the face of de-
graded site conditions and human interventions. The experimental design
focuses on the impacts of alternative pre-treatment strategies and varied
plant diversity treatments on ecosystem functioning including invasion dy-
namics, species recruitment and turnover, and the time to canopy closure.
Research plots included eight different treatments, consisting of a factorial
arrangement of pre-treatment soil amendments with and without compost,
stand complexity with shrubs and herbs versus without, and tree species
richness with two versus six species (Felson et al. 2013, Oldfield et al. 2013).
Concurrently, designers worked to incorporate the experimental layout into a
functional urban park design and aesthetic.

Figure 8. MillionTreesNYC, 2009, New York City Afforestation Project (NY-CAP)

124 Projections 11
One of the challenges encountered in moving forward with the experimental
research was budgetary. The experimental design component of the project
was included as part of the design with no additional fee. Thus the ecolo-
gists involvement was voluntary. Upon completion of the design contract
in 2009 (and after the establishment of the experimental layout), academic
institutions were invited to establish direct relationships with NYCDPR so as
to further refine the experimental design and research protocols (Felson et
al.2013c). An early academic partnership with Yale University in 2009 has
allowed for a second phase of ecological analysis that included baseline as-

Earth Stewardship Initiative Demonstration Project - Sacramento

American River Parkway, 2014
For the 99th annual Ecological Society of America conference, ecologists
working with landscape architects, environmental consultants, and agency
officials, developed a demonstration project using designed experiments as
a teaching tool and strategy for operationalizing Earth Stewardship, specifi-
cally through increasing research opportunities and the relevance of ecolo-
gists, while supporting the goals of city leaders and community interests.

The basic premise for the demonstration project was the recognition that
cities should work for people and ecosystems. Large-scale urban green infra-
structure often has multiple demands from maintenance and operations, to
ecological performance and recreation. Addressing these demands moving
forward requires a deeper understanding, monitoring, and adaptive manage-
ment of coupled human-natural systems. The project therefore advances the
notion that integration of ecological theory, research, and applications with
the knowledge and practices of consultants, practitioners, and policy makers
is increasingly recognized as necessary when modifying the built environ-
ment. It further proposes designed experiments as a framework to facilitate
such integration.

Using the American River Parkway as a case study and designed experiments
as a framework, ecologists, landscape architects, and environmental con-
sultants collaborated with the American River Parkway Foundation, the Sac-
ramento Area Flood Control Agency, the Water Forum, and the Sacramento
County Regional Parks to formulate ways to enhance flood resilience, reduce
erosion, promote species diversity, increase pollinator habitats, and other
maintenance challenges (Figure 9).

Felson 125
Figure 9. Site analysis to conceptual design process, Earth Stewardship Initiative
demonstration project, 2014

Figure 10. Themes, Earth Stewardship Initiative demonstration project

126 Projections 11
The initiative included a week-long interactive demonstration of how ecolo-
gists working with planners and landscape architects, government officials,
and non-profit groups can move a city toward sustainability. Interdisciplinary
groups focused on, 1) resilient park ecosystems and habitats with the goal
of maintaining and enhancing terrestrial ecosystems and habitats within a
programmed parkland through ecological design, enhanced plant commu-
nities, and bioengineering; 2) degraded ecosystems restored as amenities
where degraded sites could be reconstructed as opportunities for social,
recreational, and environmental regeneration; 3) managed populations and
communities for parks where designed habitats with beneficial species man-
agement practices can support habitats while reducing maintenance and
operations costs and encouraging community engagement; 4) managed hy-
drology, aquatic habitats, and recreation, employing ecological design strat-
egies to meet water demand while mitigating flooding and enhancing aquat-
ic recreational and industrial activities; and 5) spatial planning for climate
change to manage the effects of climate change on terrestrial and aquatic
ecosystems. The groups incorporated ideas generated from four other re-
search themes to develop a climate change synopsis with an emphasis on
policy and planning (Figure 10).

The groups then elaborated on site-specific projects that described ways

of realigning biological communities with urbanization patterns and urban
form to improve both human well being and environmental services.

Merging Ecology and Design: Challenges and

As exemplified by these projects, combining the strengths of ecology and de-
sign can help develop paradigms for projects that build on empirical data to
engage with ecosystem processes. As earlier discussed, there is a movement
towards greater reciprocity between the two disciplines such that ecologists
are being asked to engage with constructed environments, and designers are
required to study with increasing specificity the existing systems of the sites
on which they build, and to integrate monitoring and metrics of environ-
mental systems into the design of buildings, landscape, and infrastructure.
For urban ecological research to become an integral component of public
spaces, it is necessary to foster greater mutual understanding and go be-
yond simply adding ecology to design and vice versa.

For ecologists, experiments are a means to produce data. The form of the ex-
periment itself is valued for its function and not explicitly for its aesthetic. As
such, when ecologists design experiments, they employ a hypothesis-driven
approach based on substantial amount of field knowledge and understand-
ing of the organism and ecosystem as well as the lifecycle patterns and
evolution of the species being studied. While the relationship of the layout
and aesthetic of the experiment itself is secondary to the phenomena being

Felson 127
measured for ecologists, this is not the case for designers. Designed experi-
ments build hypotheses around a site and program. Since experiments are
the component within ecological research practices that can best navigate
the urban context and constraints, a shift in priority that experiments take
on in designed experiments is a compromise. Nonetheless, by staging the
site and experimental design from the outset of the process, ecologists are
afforded the opportunity to cycle through a series of hypotheses and testing

Given the benefits to be derived from collaboration between designers and

ecologists through designed experiments, identifying projects and locating
sites for designed experiments is a critical next step that will likely further
define the values and constraints of this new approach. A number of options
exist for establishing designed experiments. One option is to fit them into
existing design projects and customize experiments to a particular design,
as seen in the NY-CAP example. Another is to fit urban design into a research
project. A third would be projects in which the research and urban design
components are present and overlapping, as in the American River Parkway
example (Felson et al. 2013a). Projects can be developed by brainstorming
and identifying sites that might accommodate experiments, and pursuing
grant funding or community programs. Selecting sites that appear through-
out cities across the country, such as median strips, front yards, or detention
basins, would be ideal for establishing replicable experiments. Importantly,
channeling ecological experiments through design projects could support
the spread of research sites across the city.

The inclusion of research ecologists in urban design projects requires a
combination of enhanced dialogue to advance education and formalized
frameworks and funding to encourage participation. Incorporating ecologi-
cal considerations into their designs instills a proactive role for designers to
promote urban research and create urban environments that are aestheti-
cally and ecologically sound. The synthesis of design and research will opti-
mally lead towards new kinds of urban public spaces designed and built to
test and monitor. The creative modification of traditional practices of eco-
logical research, which is required in order to integrate considerations of
aesthetics, urban function, and community involvement, could also generate
new experimental possibilities at a variety of scales. Collaboration between
ecologists and designers can help to provide ecological experimentation with
a culturally recognizable public identity, in order to enhance its meaning
and perceived value. Thus the experiment itself is re-conceptualized from an
instrument that serves as a means to an end, to obtain results addressing
testable hypotheses, to a multifunctional urban object (or system) coupling
experimental goals with urban design applications. Implementing designed
experiments should expedite the translation of scientific knowledge into con-

128 Projections 11
struction of ecosystems and services for urban areas. It can help us estab-
lish long-term research sites and produce new, innovative forms of urban

Urban ecology is at a stage of tremendous growth. Designers have much to

benefit from improved urban ecological understanding and integration into
their projects. At the same time, designers need to focus more on areas of
uncertainty and what is not known, and not just on existing knowledge. As
designers improve their understanding of knowledge gaps in ecological sci-
ence they can better comprehend where decisions need to be made without
scientific knowledge and where additional scientific assessment would be
applicable. Designed experiments define a joint role for both ecologists and
designers and force them to consider what is as yet not known and what is
uncertain, and to formulate design as experiments to begin to provide an-
swers to questions of sustainability and resilience.

Felson 129
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Felson 133
134 Projections 11
Freeland: Urban Planning Strategy for
Almere Oosterwold

Lachlan Anderson-Frank with Winy Maas/MVRDV

Freeland, MVRDVs urban planning strategy for Almere Oosterwold, re-envi-
sions the way that land is developed in the Netherlands. It proposes remap-
ping the regulation of buildings and development towards community-driven
initiatives, while reinventing the relationship between governments, people,
and their urban fabric through the power of the collective via the Internet. It
proposes a place of radical liberation, where architectural freedom extends
to the urban environment as a whole, challenging and empowering citizens
to become active participants in the land development process. This essay
elaborates the conceptual background of the project, its ambitions, and its

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 135

MVRDV is a globally operating architecture and urbanism firm which has
pursued a radical, often research-oriented spatial agenda since its founding
in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1993. MVRDVs design method emerges
out of an exploration and understanding of the vast amounts of complex
data which accompany the contemporary building process. This ranges from
regulations such as height and volume restrictions, to visitor numbers, cli-
matological, and economic data. The approach is grounded in rational de-
sign decisions which improve peoples quality of life through buildings and
urban plans, in contrast to the often opaque design processes that prevail in
the design industry. Mass housing has always held particular significance for
MVRDV, with 10 out of 40 completed buildings falling into this category (and
many of these subsidized housing). Similarly, out of 550 total projects, ap-
proximately one-fifth has focused on urbanism and master plans, as a result
of the belief that contemporary architectural practice must be integrated
with an understanding of and engagement with the modern city.

Over the past twenty years, a discourse has formed around MVRDVs work,
in part through publications such as Farmax, KM3, and Metacity/Datatown,
research which extends beyond the architectural projects to the role of ar-
chitects and urbanists in society. Key propositions such as density and
variety are now typical preoccupations for the profession, but found con-

136 Projections 11
ceptual drive in MVRDVs early work. Embedded in these debates are issues
of sustainable economic and built development, individual expression and
initiative, and perhaps above all, quality of life. The firm continues to pursue
a fascination for investigative research, particularly in relation to density, the
public realm and the influence of architectural form on daily life.

The projects of MVRDV, whether private or publically funded, or internation-

ally or locally initiated, attempt to improve upon and contribute to their lo-
cation through the provision of positive program mixes and architectural
experiences, as well as public green space. The radical nature of these proj-
ects, many of which are unrealized, has brought the issues they explore to
the forefront of concerns within the profession. Freeland, the proposal for
Almere Oosterwold, represents, in some ways, a culmination of MVRDVs
ideas, designs, and buildings to create a better future for cities and their
inhabitants. It places an individuals initiative in creating communities at its
heart, in an attempt to revolutionize the way that cities are built.

Most Dutch housing developments of the last forty years have encircled
existing cities, replacing agricultural landscapes with sprawling low-rise
neighborhoods. These neighborhoods neither replicate the programmatic
liveliness of urban environments, nor the idyllic agricultural quality of rural
villages. Instead they often create monotonous and mono-functional hous-
ing areas which ignore the individual at every level. The encroachment of
cities into green landscapes appears to be a global issue in an era of rapid
urbanization. What is unique in the Netherlands is that this situation has oc-
curred in spite of the extensive regulation of land development and the built
environment; so that despite the efforts of governments and urban planners,
development has, in many places, replicated the American suburban model
of low density, low diversity developments.

In 2008, MVRDV was commissioned to create an overall development strat-

egy for the city of Almeres growth over the next 30 years. Almere is a New
Town built on reclaimed land since the 1970s, and it has grown not co-
incidentally into a prime example of the suburban condition described
above. The municipality plans to add 60,000 homes and 100,000 jobs to the
area by 2030, in part to relieve development pressure on the existing outer
suburbs of Amsterdam. MVRDV convinced the municipality of Almere to re-
pair the mono-functional character of its existing housing stock by adding
neighborhoods with more urban qualities in the west, and neighborhoods
with more rural qualities in the east (Freeland), integrating job creation into
the new development and turning Almere into a diverse and balanced city.

Freeland is then not only a revolution in urban planning principles, but also in
social terms. New Towns in the Netherlands, of which Almere is the biggest,

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 137



2% Infrastructure
2% Water
0,2% Office
1% Residential
NEW FUNCTIONS (3759 HA): 9% Public Green Space

10% Residential
5% Office
4% Commercial
10% Infrastructure
1% Water
10% Public Green Space
46% Agriculture



23% 5% 20% 52% 25% 5% 7% 62%
FAR 0.5




5%3%10% 82%

FAR 0.5




5%3% 82% 10%

FAR 0.5

138 Projections 11
were built to relieve development pressure on existing cities, and to provide
low cost, high quality housing for the disadvantaged. This has resulted not
only in monotonous housing environments, but also in a lack of social di-
versity in such environments, and areas of concentrated poverty. Freeland
presents an opportunity to attract a wider variety of people to Almere, if
they have a dream and the initiative to build it. Rather than a push to attract
the wealthy through exclusive, architect-designed suburbs, as has happened
elsewhere in the Netherlands, the land prices in Oosterwold will be relatively
low compared with rest of the country. This will be made possible by the re-
moval of the high initial investment and risk on the part of the municipality
which are normally associated with new infrastructure provision; and also by
the fact that the land is municipally owned and has no historical ownership
because it is reclaimed.

Freeland is thus a new, bottom-up strategy for creating a mixed living and
working environment on new land, rather than a way of densifying an ex-
isting suburb. That prevailing suburban model ultimately creates sleeper-
towns of commuters, which lack architectural and programmatic diversity
and quality of life. Not only are such developments unsustainable in terms
of energy use, but the model weakens those communities by driving away
public and private investment in jobs and infrastructure into similarly mono-
functional and segregated office and industrial parks. In this sense Freeland
can be understood as a reaction against the modernist planning ideal of
separate zones for separate functions, and as an attempt to reintegrate living
and working so as to benefit from the synergetic possibilities therein.

The ability to add new extremes of density to Almere allowed MVRDV to ex-
plore ways to create a new format of suburban environment in Oosterwold,
characterized by open green spaces and, crucially, agriculture. Even in the
Netherlands, where urban and rural conditions often blend, life and buildings
in the countryside are organized with a different set of rules and interpreta-
tions than in an urban environment; what seems to be problematic or even
unacceptable in an urban environment (in relation to traffic, safety, noise,
access to facilities, and responsibility for infrastructure) may seem natural
in the countryside. Freeland is based on the notion of bringing the ease,
freedom and self-organizing principals that have always been present in rural
environments, back to the city, and in the process, developing an agricultural
area in a sustainable, high-quality way.

Freeland is then not so much an attempt to extend the city into the coun-
tryside, but the reverse: to extend the qualities of the countryside into the
city so as to create a mediating condition between the two, and in doing
so to preserve rural planning attitudes and lifestyles. Through the restric-
tion of built area to 18% of the land, and the required 59% agricultural
land-use, Freeland will create a new kind of settlement in Oosterwold, which
combines development with the preservation of a green, productive, working
landscape. In a country as small and densely populated as the Netherlands,

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 139

stap 1
dirt road
road 2,75m + bank
road 5,5m + bank
missing link
plot boundery

stap 3
stap 2

stap 1 Legend
dirt road
road 2,75m + bank


road 5,5m + bank
missing link
plot boundery
stap 1 Legend
dirt road setback
road 2,75m + bank
road 5,5m + bank
missing link
municiaplity stap 3 stap 4
plot boundery
setback stap 2


stap 1 Legend
dirt road
road 2,75m + bank
road 5,5m + bank
missing link
plot boundery

stap 3
stap 2
UTILITY TOOLBOX stap 3 stap 4







stap 4
stap 3


stap 4









100m WIND






X1.00O = 14.000 RESUIDENTS X1.00O = 20.000 RESIDENTS X1.00O = 47.000 RESIDENTS X1.00O = 350.000 RESIDENTS








140 Projections 11
the concept of a green belt becomes a kind of green web, covering everything
which is not city and preventing total and continuous urbanization. It is rel-
evant to mention here that this is an anxiety which preoccupies Dutch archi-
tects and urban planners including MVRDV, as well as citizens, who place a
high cultural value on access to green space and agricultural lifestyles. And
the fear appears quite prescient given the rapidly increasing size of many
urban conurbations, and the loss of green spaces and traditional lifestyles
in the Netherlands and around the globe. Freeland is a response to these
concerns through its emphasis on green space and agriculture, and is an
attempt to involve and encourage local, communal and collective initiatives
as the driving force behind land development, in opposition to commercial
developers and the products they create.

Urbanism originated in collectivism: the discipline formed to build and ar-
range common interests such as infrastructure, energy supply and public
space; and now often extends to the private provision of buildings for living,
working and shopping. How people live in cities is then the very direct result
of how they have agreed to organize society through elected systems of gov-
ernment and their regulatory power. The positive aspect of this is that cities
are cleaner, more harmonious and increasingly safer. Any conflicts between
neighbors have been minimized by building social structures and frameworks
which resolve competing interests. In Europe, the triangle of zoning, build-
ing regulations and aesthetics display a highly sophisticated level control by
professionals, defining how a building affects its immediate surroundings on
every level. Cities in that sense are the result of rules which spring from the
consensus and restrict the level of freedom of each individual for the benefit
of the common good. This is a social contract that all citizens are bound to
voluntarily or not.

Cities planned down to the smallest variation in curb height, as many in the
Netherlands now are, certainly guarantee safety and provide more comfort
than the chaotic pre-industrial European city or market-oriented American
urban region. But at the same time they limit individual freedom, and have
become almost totalitarian in their elimination of civic participation through
the professionalization of urban planning. Top down planning and endless
regulations not only determine the way we (should) live but also seem to
treat citizens as irresponsible infants, determining what is spatially right
and wrong. They may be developed with good intentions, but eventually
make our cities become inefficient, inflexible, unsurprising and ultimately
unattractive. They leave little room for individual creativity or innovation
in the urban environment, or collective efforts by citizens to improve their
communities. In the Netherlands in particular, such top-down planning has
led to a prevailing monotony in suburban environments, while doing little
to promote sustainable development and the creation of communities. The

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 141

processes of development have ultimately become allied with the interests
of large organizations, and are unresponsive to the needs of individuals,
communities and locales. Rather than representing a diverse collection of
citizens needs and desires, they represent a mass-produced dream: those
consumer products termed lifestyle aspirations by the real-estate industry.

Today many European countries seem to struggle with the growing tension
between individualization and overregulation in urban planning. As people
find new freedoms in many spheres of their lives, particularly the digital,
their physical environments have become increasingly restrictive. Slow and
complex procedures are in contrast with our rapidly changing societies,
which are more and more oriented towards consumption, and as a result, in-
dividualization. We can personalize everything in our life, from cars to shoes,
but personalizing ones house or neighborhood requires going through overly
complicated permission processes. Above and beyond aesthetic choice, it
seems that individual agency is stymied by complex and bureaucratic plan-
ning procedures, leading to an enormous gap between citizens and city-
builders. Freeland attempts to close this gap by encouraging initiatives on
a practical level through freedom of expression, but also on an ideological
level through its requirement of citizens to engage in providing their own in-
frastructure, and ultimately creating their own living environment. In cutting
loose the development of land from government investment in infrastructure,
so too it can be freed from the government dictate which has resulted in that
programmatic and architectural monotony. So too, perhaps it can be cut
loose from the vested interests of other large organizations, which ignore the
individual in favor of their own vision of the collective good.

Freeland can be framed as a response to the current global economic cli-
mate. Municipal governments in the Netherlands, as elsewhere, have felt the
deep cuts in public spending more directly than on a national level. This
creates a situation whereby investments are locked, and new developments
frozen. Freeland is an evolution of the common practice of public-private
investment partnerships in infrastructure provision, and repackages the pro-
cess so as to become popularly, and indeed democratically accessible. By
substituting risk-averse public capital for risk-seeking private investment,
a significant barrier to new development is removed, and the potential for
a more local, economically resilient, and ecologically sustainable commu-
nity created. Similarly, investment risk is distributed across a wider number
of parties, rather than solely resting on government, which in the case of
Almere is small and municipal. Yet despite the economic climate, Almere
desires growth on an enormous scale. It is the forging of compacts, commit-
ments and relationships fostered by Freelands pioneer-style infrastructure
provision which will create economic and social resilience, of the kind that
only bottom-up, organic growth can create. A built ecology of sorts will arise,

142 Projections 11
Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 143
which relies on community and compromise to create sustainable develop-
ment and a high quality of life at the local level, on the ground.

Is such a thing possible? To maintain the agency of local forces in build-

ing development, while mobilising private initiative and capital? Rather than
placing regulator barriers between companies or families who wish to share
infrastructure, space or facilities, it will encourage symbiotic relationships
in a way eschewed by the simplicity of a single, top-down master plan. With
an approximately 2:1 ratio between housing and business / office functions
a requirement of Freeland, the quality of developments will be maintained
through the involvement and advocacy of local residents.

Cities in the Netherlands and surrounding European countries face enor-

mous competition for investment, headquarters, jobs and ultimately, inhab-
itants. Western Europe is incredibly well connected by transport and infra-
structure in comparison with other areas of a similar size in other countries:
location often becomes a qualitative choice rather than a quantitative reality.
Almere, like other municipalities, is competing for inward investment, but
unlike most other municipalities in the Netherlands, owns a large amount of
unused land. To increase its attractiveness as an area to live and work, Al-
mere wanted a revolutionary planning methodology which would offer unique
conditions for businesses and people to relocate there. These factors came
together to create an unparalleled opportunity in the Netherlands for tabula
rasa development; Freeland is MVRDVs experimental hypothesis for this
situation, aiming to create a high quality living area with mixed-use charac-
teristics and diverse architectural and urbanistic qualities as a product of
so-called do-it-yourself urbanism.

Freeland is just a small part of a growing movement to make a urbanism a
collective and participatory movement, rather than an elitist, professional-
ized network. By providing space to develop individual initiatives, the area
of Oosterwold will gradually evolve, from its existing state as unused land,
to a diverse, living and working landscape. It will develop as a rich assem-
blage of programmatic qualities, which divide the advanced requirements of
contemporary urban planning into publicly accessible, bite-sized pieces, to
be addressed individually and collaboratively. The complexity of social net-
works, agreements, disagreements and alliances will be the basis for a new
form of urbanism.

Freedom goes hand in hand with responsibilities; of course Freeland does

not exist outside of law it is not a complete anarchy. In addition to the
freedom to develop ones own plot in whatever way one might wish, citizens
also have the freedom to create their own infrastructure and public space:
an open-source city. You need a road? Do you have four-wheel drive? In that

144 Projections 11
case a dirt track will be perfectly sufficient. You want a driveway or a ring
road? You can have both. Investment can be minimised according to need,
as long as basic access is maintained for the rest of the area in the form of
perimeter roads and paths.

Step-by-step a network of streets and paths grows; without a preconceived

plan, Freelands road network and public spaces will developed pragmati-
cally, as needed. Required energy supply, waste disposal and water storage
are arranged, as much as possible, on each parcel. The autonomy and self-
sufficiency of each plot, or group of plots, is a condition for the freedom
to build whatever you want, however you want. The result will be a collec-
tion of individual initiatives, which form symbiotic relationships that reflect
the complexity of the contemporary world far more than top-down planning.
Rather than relying on large providers of energy, water, and waste treatment,
you must organize the services yourself; choose the most appropriate sys-
tem, and perhaps collaborate with neighbors to reduce the cost. It becomes
possible to develop an ecologically and economically sustainable city which
functions as a kind of built organic system. Flexible and efficient, resilient
and self-mediating, the power to create the city comes not from the state,
but from citizens themselves, empowered by their relative freedom to create
their own lifestyles and environments, rather than consume prefabricated

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 145

Another collective element is required in Freeland to begin to realize the
proposition of a sustainable, even autarkic, community. In Freeland citizens
are responsible for contributing to the food supply of the area, and to main-
tain the green, agricultural character of the development: 59% of all land
must be set aside for agriculture. Even with industrialized farming methods
such as greenhouses, it is difficult to produce enough volume or variety of
food for ones own table. The answer to this is then, as with everything in
Freeland, collaboration! By surrounding each development with agriculture
and public green space (10%), city and countryside are mixed to create that
continuous green landscape of yore. Freeland responds to a global trend
towards local, responsibly and sustainably produced food. It will be a labora-
tory for regional food production and distribution, in a country where farm-
ing has come full cycle to become a core industry. New forms of mixed
enterprise, with food for the city and the region as a base, can be coupled
with services in the fields of health care, recreation, education and hospital-
ity in Freeland. Agriculture is an important economic pillar of the continuous
green landscape, and is maintained for its economic, social and aesthetic

And public transport? Initially Freeland will exist without mass transit, and
solutions will be created by residents themselves. The resources to do so
must come from the individual and collective intelligence, using creativity
and initiative as tools. Freelands urbanism is not guided by the placement
of public transport as other forms of urbanism before it the transport
follows development itself. So eventually, if a bus service has enough po-
tential users, the municipality can provide one. This strategy also applies to
other forms of infrastructure in Oosterwold. The municipality is by no means
excluded from participating in development, rather, it can intervene when
deemed necessary and worth the added investment.

The tabula rasa infrastructure development of Freeland demonstrates how

I-Land quickly becomes We-Land.The project redefines the role of govern-
ment and citizens, allowing people to create their immediate environment
and contribute to a part of their city, individually and collectively. A partici-
patory and adaptive urbanism, based on a process with an open end. An ur-
banism as a form of crowd planning, based on swarm intelligence, where
common components are developed as needed.

An initiator might build a house for themself, and having successfully created
the infrastructure to do so, could start a neighborhood of friends and other
likeminded people. A small business owner might set up their production line
in the neighborhood, producing packaging for the local bio-industry. A col-
lective farming plot provides summer salads for the neighborhood in its low-
tech poly tunnels, and is eventually sold to an entrepreneur which makes use
of the nearby packaging factory to cut out middle-men and transport costs,
distributing his produce in local supermarkets. The original neighborhood

146 Projections 11
included a farmer who bought 50% of the land to grow exotic fruit in glass-
houses. Some of this fruit is also eventually passed through the packaging
factory, which expands its business to include the packing of produce, and
also incorporates a small front-of house shop. Waste treatment is integrated
into this system to provide fertilizer, and a retired resident starts a pickup
service for local schoolchildren. Developments, and social structures grow
organically, through individual and collective agency. Dedication and com-
mitment are an integral part of building communities, and in Freeland will
help to re-engage citizens with urbanism, giving them the responsibility to
influence the environment they live in.

The keystone of the Freeland development model is a web-based community
forum and tool which coordinates land acquisition, regulates use, and is
overseen by an area manager. The required ratios of various types of devel-
opment can be spread over multiple ownership as long as the overall ratios
of Oosterwold are maintained. The forum will help to manage existing devel-
opments, optimize new buildings, suggest collaborations and create syner-
getic possibilities for adjacencies. It will adjust and adapt to what has been
built, providing a central reference point for new initiatives. It is this digital
forum which will combine ideas and create alliances between future inhabit-
ants, be they farmer or small business owner, optimist or cynic. The forum
strengthens the sense of the collective through participation and accessibil-
ity, which carry enormous potential when compared with traditional planning
systems and regulations. It will bind people together in the collective spirit
of land development and living community, like the first pioneers, which has
been lost through the constant intervention of central government and large
of organizations.

The forum represents MVRDVs bare-bones approach to urban planning

with Freeland. Having developed numerous urban planning concepts over the
last twenty years, and realised several of them, Freeland represents a new
direction in the firms work. Rather than a typical top-down approach, the
project and the software integrate basic rules and expectations relating to
land use, in effect the minimum acceptable quality and character develop-
ments, and leaves the rest to the individual. Starting with these criteria, and
the overall zoning of the area as residential, Freeland will develop organically
according to peoples needs, desires and dreams. This organic development
depends heavily on initiators combining a high degree of freedom with a
highly developed sense of responsibility. Empowerment, on the grand scale
of 4363 hectares, is the driving concept behind Freeland. By re-engaging
citizens with development and planning, a more sustainable built ecology
will arise through user-initiated urbanism and demand-led growth.

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 147

Just as Freeland allows individuals freedom to experiment, the proposal is
itself an open-ended experiment. The proposal is a collaboration between
MVRDV, the municipality of Almere, various other municipal and provincial
governments, and a wide variety of other local and regional stakeholders and
advisors including experts in agriculture, water management and sustainable
energy. Freeland is a long term vision for the next 30 years of Oosterwolds
development; beginning with opportunities for initiatives and land aquisi-
tion, following more detailed consultations on engineering issues, wildlife
protection, political roles, and financial strategies. Freeland is not however a
one-size-fits-all solution; rather, it is a carefully tailored response to the cur-
rent state of urban development in the Netherlands. Certainly it should not
be seen as a call to the application of neo-laissez-faire development policies
across the world. Neither is a solution aimed at entire cities or city-centers,
but rather, it is a way of mediating between the urban and rural, and an
attempt to improve upon the prevailing suburban model. So too, Freeland
is a solution for cities which desire perimeter growth in a high quality and
sustainable way, rather than a dense, mass-housing solution.

Having begun the development of Freeland in Almere, MVRDV was asked to

apply the strategy in a German city, specifically to a series of former Ameri-

148 Projections 11
can Army barracks. The socio-cultural context demanded an adaptation of
the principals of Freeland, as did the application of the strategy to an exist-
ing building stock, in significantly less rural area. Many of the challenges
posed by this transposition will be explored through workshops with citizens,
governments and other stakeholders. Collaboration, and rather idealistically,
positive engagement, will be the key to adapting the model to a different
location. The cultural, urban, and regulatory context of the Netherlands is
unique, even among European countries, and it is out of this that Freeland
has emerged. The transposition of the model will come not so much from
MVRDV, but from those who wish to apply it to their own urban environments,
wherever they may be.

The potential of Freeland as an ideology for development, rather than as

a specific master plan for Almere Oosterwold, may well be greatest in the
United States. Famously individualistic, and still with large expanses of un-
developed land, the concept might find success in replacing the prevailing,
and ultimately unsustainable suburban development model. To re-empower
American citizens to build their own cities and homes, rather than relying
on development corporations, has the potential to once again transform the
American landscape, just as the car has done over the last century. The pa-
rameters of Freeland, designed for Almere, are adaptable, and provide a new
paradigm for the regulation of development. And yet, in the United States,
where freedom is so prized, it might be that Freeland would be perceived as
entirely restrictive despite its light-touch rules. From March 2016 onwards,
and over the coming years, eyes from around the globe will be watching the
development of Freeland in Almere; watching to see what might happen, and
what kind of living and working environment can be created.

Special thanks to the city of Almere, where Freeland will be realized for the first
time in Oosterwold.

Authors note: This piece was primarily written by Lachlan Anderson-Frank while
employed at MVRDV, and contains both his own opinions and analysis as well as
descriptive and conceptual text written by Winy Maas, principal and cofounder of

Anderson-Frank / MVRDV 149

Construction of the first of 18 proposed reclaimed islands as part of the NCICD
Giant Sea Wall masterplan, view from bridge in West Jakarta, November 2015.
Photo courtesy of Etienne Turpin / anexact office

150 Projections 11
Sewage being pumped out of Waduk Pluit, over existing sea wall, into barges for
transport to land reclamation site, North Jakarta, November 2015.
Photo courtesy of Etienne Turpin / anexact office

Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 151

152 Projections 11
In Memoriam
Professor JoAnn Carmin
1957 - 2014

It is with deep sadness that we report the death of Professor JoAnn Carmin,
our valued colleague, collaborator and friend, on July 15, 2014 of complica-
tions from advanced breast cancer. She had been fighting cancer for years,
bravely and without self-pity through many treatments and much suffering,
and continued her immensely productive work and mentoring of her stu-
dents to the end. Her courage, endurance and continued commitment to her
work during her battle with cancer were extraordinary.

JoAnn was an Associate Professor at MIT in the Department of Urban Stud-

ies and Planning, and conducted research around the world on environmen-
tal governance, policy and most recently on climate adaptation at the local
level. She was a leading scholar and top global expert, called upon for exper-
tise by the World Bank, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the
global league of cities addressing climate change (ICLEI) and other major
institutions. Most recently she was a lead co-author of an excellent chapter
on adaptation for the American Sociological Associations Task Force on Cli-
mate Change, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

In Memoriam: Carmin 153

JoAnn earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Cornell University in manage-
ment and organizational theory, where she took an early interest in the study
of environmental citizen organizations and movements, environmental gov-
ernance and environmental justice. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in City and
Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999,
and while there she developed a particular interest in local environmental
politics and the many citizen environmental movements emerging in post-
Communist Eastern Europe, beginning with extensive field work in the newly
independent Czech Republic.

Her doctoral dissertation, supervised by Professor Richard (Pete) Andrews,

was an early and important contribution to understanding of environmental
movements and local governance in the Czech Republic, and began a sub-
stantial continuing research program expanding this work to the rest of post-
Communist eastern Europe. She taught first at Virginia Tech, and then at
MIT, where she rose to the rank of tenured associate professor. She also was
Director of the Program on Environmental Governance and Sustainability
in MITs Center for International Studies, and gave strong leadership to the
departments graduate programs.

From the beginning of her graduate studies JoAnn showed concern for the
many ways in which vulnerable groups are most impacted by environmental
burdens, and she spent much of her career studying community responses
to environmental inequalities. Her work explored the strategies and tactics
used by environmental NGOs and environmental justice activists so that mar-
ginalized groups could have more meaningful participation in decisions that
impact their land and territories. Among many places, her research took her
to the gold mines of Eastern Europe, in places such as Rosia Montana in
Romania. She did not call herself a scholar activist, but she was very much
one, caring deeply about environmental justice and giving voice to vulnerable
populations in her many articles and books.

At MIT JoAnn became one of the early scholars to study the emerging re-
sponses of cities around the world to global climate change. At a time when
both policy and academic discussions were centered almost exclusively on
mitigating climate change by reducing carbon emissions, she took the risk
of focusing on urban adaptation to climate change, one of the most impor-
tant issues of the 21st century for cities around the world, whether or not
mitigation efforts are successful. In just a few years she pioneered a new
field, including surveys of municipal governments around the world as well
as case-study fieldwork on the initiatives of local governments on five conti-
nents. By the time of her death she was one of the worlds leading experts
on urban policies for adapting to the growing risks of climate change. She
served as lead author of the report of Working Group II of the Fifth Assess-
ment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (released
in 2014), and coordinating lead author of the urban technical report for the
2011-12 United States National Climate Assessment, as Associate Editor of

154 Projections 11
Urban Climate, and on the boards of many professional journals and schol-
arly organizations. In 2011-2013 she was awarded a prestigious Abe Fellow-
ship to study in Japan; she also was awarded visiting research fellowships at
Yale, Duke, and the Prague University of Economics.

JoAnn published four books, most recently Environmental Inequalities Beyond

Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices (with Julian Agyeman) and
Green Activism in Post-Socialist Europe and the Former Soviet Union (with Adam
Fagan), both published in 2011. Two earlier books were EU Enlargement and
the Environment: Institutional Change and Environmental Policy in Central and
Eastern Europe (with Stacy VanDeveer) and Collaborative Environmental Man-
agement: What Roles for Government? (with several co-authors). She also pub-
lished a steady stream of scholarly articles, many of them co-authored with
her students and other rising young scholars. At least as important in their
impact were her reports for policymakers on urban climate change, including
reports for the World Bank, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and
others. She was immensely productive, she exuded competence, and she
was an exacting scholar.

In Memoriam: Carmin 155

156 Projections 11
Global Ecologies: Politics, Planning, and Design 157
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Urban Studies & Planning