The extractive sector is increasingly important in the GDP and export basket of the four Andean countries under study (ACs) (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia). The analysis of an updated inventory of 296 environmental conflicts in the EJAtlas for these four countries reaches the following conclusions: extractivism causes environmental conflicts related to mining, fossil fuels, hydropower and biomass; indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant communities are the most affected; behind the conflicts, there are not only environmental impacts but also social impacts that concern livelihoods, land deprivation and work insecurity, and also loss of cultural practices and cultural identity; most of the forms of collective action used in protests are peaceful, most notably petitions, street marches, media activism, lawsuits, while States and companies criminalize activists and are often violent (with about 75 cases in which there are deaths or disappearance of environmental defenders); socio-environmental movements (that sometimes include environmental NGOs) have achieved relative success, stopping 59 of the 296 conflict-generating projects and giving birth to new forms of resistance. While successfully stopping single projects cannot be construed as a general critique of economic growth, such attempts are congruent with post-development, community-centric, ecologically-balanced and culturally-sensitive Andean visions such as buen vivir or sumak kawsay. They are also congruent with policy proposals put forward from a post-economic growth perspective such as “leaving unburnable fuels in the ground” and “resource extraction caps”.
Ecological Economics, vol. 157, March 2019, pp. 80-91