The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Annette Cowie, Paul Martin and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 3: Confronting the “unproductive” upland discourses in biofuels development in the Philippines
The production of “low-carbon” commodities is touted by many government and non-governmental organizations as an opportunity to simultaneously address global climate change and spur social and economic development, particularly in marginalized localities (including indigenous communities). Currently the latter rationale is heavily promoted under “inclusive growth”, a term referring to equitable provision of opportunities for marginalized participants in the process of economic growth. In many developing countries, particularly in the global South, the vision of “low-carbon” development and “inclusive growth” became manifest by the turn of the millennium in the form of governmental and private sector initiatives that revive traditional cash crops (for example sugarcane, oil palm, coconuts, and soy beans) and develop new ones (for example jatropha and sweet sorghum) for the production of biofuels (bioethanol and biodiesel). As a result, the rates of production of both bioethanol and biodiesel in the Asia Pacific and Central and South Americas increased by more than a factor of four between 2000 and 2012. Several scholars believe that such rapid development in biofuels production can potentially translate to profound benefits for the impoverished rural sector. However, although there are expectations that biofuels development will bring inclusive and equitable economic growth to the global South, many remain sceptical. Biofuel programmes thus far have been criticized in many fronts for their propensity to perpetuate, if not exacerbate, the already existing social and environmental problems associated with the global industrial agriculture regime.
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