What is the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership)?

The pro-TTIP version:

The anti-TTIP version:

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Mapping the global battle to protect our planet

A new project maps environmental protest across the world, powerfully visualising a growing movement
EJAtlas

The Atlas of Environmental Justice project tracks protests over natural resources. Photograph: EJAtlas

These struggles have sometimes toppled governments, such as the coup in Madagascar in 2008 that brought “land-grabbing” to global attention when Daewoo was given a lease to grow food and biofuels for export on half the country’s land. But most of the time, the evictions, forced relocations and the violent repression of those impacted by contamination from gold mines, oil extraction, plantations and agribusinessoperations are rarely covered in the press. Ecological violence inflicted upon the poor is often not news but simply considered to be part of the costs of “business as usual”.

While statistics on strike action have been collected since the late 19th century for many countries and now globally by the International Labour Organisation, there is no one body that tracks the occurrence and frequency of mobilisations and protests related to the environment. It was this need to better understand and to track such contentious activity that motivated the Atlas of Environmental Justice project, an online interactive map that catalogues localised stories of resistance against damaging projects: from toxic waste sites to oil refining operations to areas of deforestation.

EJatlas aims to make ecological conflicts more visible and to highlight the structural impacts of economic activities on the most vulnerable populations. It serves as a reference for scientists, journalists, teachers and a virtual space for information, networking and knowledge sharing among activists, communities and concerned citizens.

The EJatlas was inspired by the work of participating Environmental Justice Organisations, such as Grain, the World Rainforest Movement and Oilwatch International, OCMAL, the Latin American Observatory of Mining Conflicts, whose work fighting and supporting impacted communities for 20-30 years now has helped articulate a global movement for environmental justice. The global atlas of environmental justice is an initiative of Ejolt, a European supported research project that brings together 23 organisations to catalogue and analyse ecological conflicts. The conflicts are entered by collaborating activists and researchers and moderated by a team at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

At the moment the atlas documents 1,400 conflicts, with the ability to filter across over 100 fields describing the actors, the forms of mobilisation from blockades to referendums, impacts and outcomes. It resembles in many ways a medieval world map – while some regions have been mapped, others remain “blank spots” still to be filled. While much work remains to be done, the work so far offers several insights into the nature and shape of environmental resistance today.

Secondly, it shows how the globalisation of the economy and material and financial flows is being followed by the globalisation of resistance. Mobilisations are increasingly interlinked across locations: anti-incineration activists make alliances with waste-picker movements to argue how through recycling they “cool down the earth”. Foil Vedanta, a group of activists fighting a bauxite mine on a sacred mountain in India, follow the company’s supply chain to Zambia, where they reveal Vedanta is evading tax and spark street protests there. Trans-nationally, new points of convergence unite movements working on issues from food sovereignty to land-grabbing, biofuels and climate justice.

The evidence shows that “corporate social responsibility” is not a panacea and that until corporate accountability can be enforced, successful “cost-shifting” will remain a defining feature of doing business.

The danger such movements represent to powerful vested interests is attested to by the intensity of the violence and backlash wielded to repress them, with over 30% of cases shown on the map entailing arrests, killings, abuses and other forms of repression against activists. It is not an exaggeration in many countries to speak of a veritable “war against environmental defenders”.

Furthermore the number of violent conflicts is set to increase because the world’s remaining natural capital currently lies on or beneath lands occupied by indigenous and subsistence peoples. Communities who have nothing left to lose are willing to use increasingly contentious tactics to defend their way of life.

Beyond stories of disaster and degradation, the struggles documented in the atlas highlight how impacted communities are not helpless victims. These are not only defensive and reactionary battles but proactive struggles for common land, for energy and food sovereignty, for Buen Vivir, indigenous ways of life and for justice. The environment is increasingly a conduit for frustrations over the shape of capitalist development. Tracking these spaces of ecological resistance through the Environmental Justice Atlas highlights both the urgency and the potential of these movements to trigger broader transcendental movements that can confront asymmetrical power relations and move towards truly sustainable economic systems.

The up-to-date version of the atlas will be presented at the closing meeting of the Ejolt project in Brussels today where the project brings attention to the increasing persecution of environmental defenders and calls on European Union policymakers and parliamentarians to integrate environmental justice concerns into their policy agenda and move towards reducing the current atmosphere of impunity for environmental crimes.

Leah Temper is the coordinator and co-editor at EJAtlas. Follow @EnvJustice on Twitter.

Original source

Creative writing workshop, some notes

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This is the workshop leader, Tony Birch, writer and lecturer born in Melbourne, an environmental activist. Source: https://www.facebook.com/swietlicakpwtrojmiescie?fref=ts ((participants were asked for permission to be photographed and then to publish the pictures in the organizer facebook page)

This is me, the one turned back, discussing with another participant on  climate change. It was part of an exercise consisting of playing different roles in order to convince others about our ideas

This is me, the one turned back, vividly discussing with another participant on climate change. It was part of an exercise consisting of playing different roles in order to convince others about our ideas. Concretely, She was supposed to raise my awareness on climate change while I was playing a “denier role”. Source: https://www.facebook.com/swietlicakpwtrojmiescie?fref=ts ((participants were asked for permission to be photographed and then to publish the pictures in the organizer facebook page)

Past Monday 6th of October I attended a creative writing workshop in Gdansk, the city I live in. Although the workshop’s first aim was creative writing, the exposition and discussion was quiet focus on environmental issues, and the way we can write and persuade others about current environmental problems. It seemed to me more focused on literature-like writing, but some things are also applicable to research. Also, the truth is that in a hardly three hours workshop one can’t go a long way. However, I would like to point out a few things.

First, always bear in mind who is your audience. It may be your friends, family, the ones that you want them to be proud of you. Although this is unlikely when talking about research writing. Or a more general audience. It’s important to have this clear even before starting to write.

Secondly, we live in a global world and people sometimes tend to write on things that happen in a rather undefined place. However, people matter what happen here and now. Although this two concepts “here” and “now” may be seen as too ambiguous, it’s important to reflect on them. They probably depend on your audience. It may be your city, your country or just your neighbour, but never think about the place you live as banal. It reminds me to one Pierre Bourdieu’s sentence when doing a research on his own hometown, he named this perspective as the “banal exotic”. Another thing is, and this is my own opinion,

Last but not least, how to attract your audience?, the first paragraph is often crucial. Here, Tony spoke of the importance of addressing issues related to the emotions of our audience as a way to attract attention (Again, not applicable to research, to my way of thinking) This can become complicated when our audience is very diverse. What for some may be captivating, for others it’s simply irrelevant. At certain moment (when discussing on how to raise awareness on climate change) I suggested that we should try to make our audience see that their everyday life is somehow connected with environmental problems that are happening very far. Also (and I just come up with this idea) the more diverse is your audience, let’s say worldwide, the more you need to appeal those aspects and values that define human beings, i.e. those things that we all as humans share and have one unmistakable meaning as love, friendship, nostalgia, etc.

Other interesting things that raised throughout the workshop were the need of having a solid structure of what we want to write as well as choosing the right moment on the day to do it. Maybe the very morning, during the night etc. Though here I’d like to warn that, according to my experience, the structure may quite change again and over again during the writing process. One inspiring writing technique that Tony suggested (rather non-research related): ask yourself: can I tell my whole life in three minutes?. The results of this exercise could give way to a great, touching and creative piece of writing. Seek and patiently observe, for example, a picture of your childhood that you think best defines who you are.

Technology, social change and the need of market research

We tend to think that the technology is a quite recent development, but the truth is that it comes from the beginning of the human history. It has always been a crucial factor for the social change and for the change of our lives. Inclusive relatively simple inventions such as stirrup.220px-EnduranceStirrup

“This invention, that allows a horse riders remain firmly seated in the saddle, produced a major social change. This medieval innovation led to a completely new form of attack-combat on horseback in which a fast-moving warrior could stab or chop his opponent without fear of falling to the ground as ungentlemanly. This new form of struggle, in turn, brought new demands to the fighters. A free citizen simply could not take up arms and be fit for war. The new combat technique required many years of training, not to mention the huge expense in horses, assistants and equipment. Thus was born a social aristocracy-new-class of knights-and with it a new set of role models to the needs of affluent lifestyle of a warrior on horseback. “Few inventions have been so simple as the stirrup,” writes Lynn White Jr. (1962, p38) “but few have had so catalytic an influence on history”

What reality lies beneath this story which is relevant for market research? The rapid social change produced by new technology challenges our society as a whole, our society´s organizations and our everyday life. The primitive society was simply organized: tribes, low ranking (hierarchical), barter base economies and perhaps some differences regarding gender and age. As new technologies were emerging, as the example of stirrup, society is getting more and more complex, more hierarchical.globalization_b_1293566053-150x150

Spinning jenny, steam engine and many other inventions encouraged strong changes. Industrial revolution affected greatly European and American society. The rapidness of the changes over the last two centuries has increased exponentially. The estates of the middle age gave way to social class from the Marxist viewpoint. In recent decades, the Capitalism-communism antagonism gave way to the so called “globalization”: international integrating, multinational corporations, the dissolution of “old” social inequalities from the industrial society; the emerging subcultures, lifestyle and way of living, consumption, the rise of the Internet and the “network society”, but also climate change.

As a result, socities become more complex and all the countries over the world become economically and culturally interdependent. The 2008 crash in US eventually led and still lead to recession in most Western countries, any ecological catastrophe in Asia could eventually affect us; immigrants from all over the world habit the more and more dense urban areas. And no society, no organization can scape from this reality. Governments, countries, but also companies and other organizations, as well as families and ourselves are constantly challenged by these rapid changes.

So, why is market research needed? As a manager, researchers or consultant, the rapid social changes will constantly chalSNA_segmentlenge your organization. We are bombarded with messages that society keeps changing and technology keeps developing faster and faster, making extant professional knowledge obsolete at the speed of lighting. In conclusion, change is ongoing, and every issue in a company is exposed to change or the threat of change in the near future. Personnel, customers, government, environment, investors and suppliers´ relations might not be a problem when a company is doing well. But as “time are a-changing” such relations must be assess continuously. Sometimes, intuition based decision making is not enough nowadays to lead a company in the right direction. More systematic approaches are required.

Corporatte strategy, marketing strategy, organizational structure, business process reengineering, mergers and acquisitions, financial management, downsizing, outsourcing, relationship marketing, alliances, globalization and green policies may and must generally be based in any kind of previous research.

References

Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.
Gummesson, E. (1999). Qualitative methods in management research. Sage Publications, Incorporated.
Oliveto, Guillermo (2008). Market Research Explained. ESOMAR.