Nine: The politics of environmental justice: community development in Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazonia

This chapter is based on research and community work carried out in indigenous communities affected by the oil industry in both the Ecuadorean and Peruvian Amazon. In these areas local and regional socio-economic development programmes led by government agencies are often linked with the development of the oil industry, which implements community development programmes through its Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. This model of development, based only on the unsustainable exploitation of non-renewable resources, has increased poverty and environmental destruction and has failed to satisfy local needs and to create a diversified economy that could open new development opportunities for all the region’s social groups. Furthermore, this model is not compatible with the long-term cultural and physical survival of indigenous peoples. It is therefore necessary to pave the way towards a post-oil model of development that includes the views and proposals of indigenous peoples and other social groups in the region. Concepts such us ‘environmental justice’ and ‘ecological debt’ may help to challenge dominant views of development in the region by highlighting that the current model is built at the expense of unfair access to the earth’s resources and unfair distribution of human-led environmental impacts.

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