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Highlights of the webinar Identity, Equity and Law in Ecological World-making

By Geoff Garver

October 22, 2020.

A2E and the Ecological Law and Governance Association (ELGA) co-hosted the October 2020 webinar of ELGA’s ongoing webinar series, on the topic “Identity, Equity and Law in Ecological World-making.” The webinar featured Kesha Fevrier, a recent PhD graduate from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University who was in E4A’s first cohort; Jen Gobby, an activist-scholar and postdoctoral researcher at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, and also from E4A’s first cohort; Ngozi Unuigbe, PhD, a Nigerian-based researcher in International Environmental Policy, Law and Ethics at University of Benin in Nigeria, and member of ELGA’s steering committee; and Travis L. Williams, PhD, an environmental sociologist in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and a member of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative. Geoff Garver, the coordinator of A2E’s law and governance research and a member of ELGA’s steering committee, moderated the webinar.

Looking at how ecological law intersects with questions of power, race, identity and equity could not be more timely, given the resonance of the Black Lives Matter and the inequities and injustice that the Covid pandemic is exposing as it hits Black people, Indigenous peoples and people of color especially hard in many parts of the world. And sadly, the webinar took place as the Nigerian government was engaged in violent repression of peaceful protests in the ongoing struggle against police violence there. But this topic was already on ELGA’s radar screen a year ago, when the 2020 webinar series was being planned. Justice is an essential element of ecological law – both in how ecological law must incorporate principles and approaches that ensure environmental and ecological justice and in how co-creation of ecological law must include a diversity of voices and especially voices from peoples and communities who suffer from persistent environmental injustice.

How can ecological law contribute to the forging of anti-racist, feminist, and decolonial environmentalism and act in the service of justice? How can relations of trust, accountability, and solidarity be built and maintained? And how can ongoing scholarship and movement organizing around racial injustice and environmental racism inform the conversation around ecological law? The panelists revealed the international scope of the justice issues that persist around race, identity and power dynamics that maintain patterns of unfairness and injustice. The webinar also highlighted ongoing racism in mainstream environmentalism, including climate activism, where BIPOC communities are too often treated marginally, with tokenism, and as props for agendas and strategies formulated without their meaningful participation. Of course, the webinar did not and could not solve any of these deeply embedded issues. But, it was, as was the hope, an insightful and forward-looking dialogue about the vision and fight for a more ecologically viable and more just world.

Watch the complete recording on our Youtube Channel

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