Table of Contents

The International Handbook of Political Ecology

The International Handbook of Political Ecology

Edited by Raymond L. Bryant

The International Handbook features chapters by leading scholars from around the world in a unique collection exploring the multi-disciplinary field of political ecology. This landmark volume canvasses key developments, topics, issues, debates and concepts showcasing how political ecologists today address pressing social and environmental concerns. Introductory chapters provide an overview of political ecology and the Handbook. Remaining chapters examine five broad themes: issues and approaches; governance and power; knowledge and discourse; method and scale; connections and transformations. Across diverse topics and perspectives, these chapters amount to a wide-ranging survey of current research, making the International Handbook an indispensable reference for scholars and students in political ecology.

Chapter 20: Mind the gap: global truths, local complexities in emergent green initiatives

Adeniyi Asiyanbi

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


The widespread transformation of environmental governance and conservation is advancing across the globe. The market is prioritized as the singular site and principle for human–environment relationship by so-called green initiatives that claim to solve myriad environmental problems. This transformation has been the focus of significant engagement in political ecology. Yet this engagement has so far accorded only scant efforts to assess how far plans and discourses of this emergent global transformation are being translated into reality on the ground, and, if so, as planned. We argue that closer attention is needed to such issues, echoing an earlier concern in policy implementation studies to gauge how far and in what ways this globally articulated transformation is in fact operationalized. Using an example of a carbon scheme in Nigeria, we show the disjuncture between globally dispatched plans and local realities, which are much messier than commonly assumed by both proponents and critics. We infuse the terrain of political ecology with insights from implementation studies. We thus propose an understanding of these initiatives as ‘floating symbols’, highlighting their ambiguous and conflictual attributes, their particular mode of articulation with locales, and their minimal realization and variegated impact. We argue that, by deepening critical engagement along these lines, political ecology could further contribute to wider efforts to understand and go beyond the failing superimposition of capital over nature in the emergent transformation.

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