Edited by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Victoria Brooks
Chapter 12: Ecofeminist approaches to the construction of knowledge and coalition building – offering a way forward for international environmental law and policy
Some might wonder why it is necessary to include an ecofeminist approach in a volume on environmental law research methodology. There are a number of reasons why such an approach can add value to our consideration of environmental research: not least, it offers an important counter hegemonic critique of societal engagement with the environment and one that complements other important differential perspectives, such as those of indigenous peoples, and can therefore enrich our understanding of important environmental issues. Just as compellingly, ecofeminist approaches to engaging with environmental questions offer a powerful potential corrective to current dominant, gendered, methodologies which have proved to be of limited effectiveness in addressing environmental degradation. Ecofeminism, with its methodologically distinctive drive to achieve a working fusion of theory and activism, and its commitment to encapsulating the relevance of lived experience in addressing societal challenges, potentially has a great deal to offer in the endeavour to harness the artificially yet routinely sundered conceptual and practical approaches to environmental issues that is arguably a factor retarding progress in addressing complex, large-scale, socially embedded environmental issues. The impetus towards the synthesis of systemic thought and lived experience also recognises the necessity of fostering broader participation in the crafting of environmental policy and law responses to the major environmental problems of our time. To this end ecofeminist methodology employs innovative approaches towards garnering a wide range of gender perspectives that address the neglected complexities of women’s vulnerability and agency as environmental actors. This chapter looks specifically at climate change and the eventual emergence of gender in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regime, through making a case and ultimately obtaining recognition for the gender constituency in this, the chief institution of global climate governance. This ongoing process has seen women employ feminist approaches, such as transversal politics (with which this chapter is chiefly concerned), as vehicles facilitating the construction of knowledge and coalition-building to good effect in adding weight to their case for inclusion and ultimately influence in this most crucial, contentious, contested environmental law and policy context and arguably offering richer treatment of the substantive issues than hitherto.
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