EJAtlas, the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice

16-05-2020

The environmental justice movement was born in the United States in the 1980s among Black and Latino communities, who mobilized against the injustice that toxic industrial wastes were being dumped in areas where ethnic minorities lived. This was a clear case of what is known as environmental racism, since people of colour and/or low income people were being exposed to greater environmental hazards. Environmental justice has since globalized and tackles a range of issues, embracing both social justice (do the right thing to humans) and ecological justice (do the right thing for wider ecological communities).

EJAtlas stands for “Environmental Justice Atlas” and is a simple tool developed by researchers from the Institute of Science, Technology and the Environment (ICTA) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in Spain as part of the EJOLT project. This tool documents environmental conflict claims in which there are environmental damages, or demands for access to environmental resources that are currently being denied to some marginalized groups. Each conflict has been documented by researchers and activists from around the world, creating a globalizing environmental justice movement.

The dots in the map are all the conflicts recorded to the Atlas (3130 at the time of writing the post). The Legend appears on the right and shows the 10 colored categories into which conflicts are classified: black for fossil fuels and climate justice, green for biodiversity conservation, blue for water management, etc. Apart from the Category, the legend also allows you to filter by Project Status, i.e., is the project in operation or stopped?

Below you find Browse Maps, which allows you to filter by country, company, commodity and type of conflict. We can see that right now, India is the country with the most reported cases (329). Some countries have very low reported cases or even none, but this might indicate that up until the present it has not been possible to properly document cases in those countries. The most common type of conflict reported in EJAtlas is due to land acquisition issues (829), followed by mineral ore exploitation (479) and water access (429). There are currently 28 cases in this internet tool related to climate change conflicts. The oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell is the company for which more cases of environmental conflicts have been registered so far in EJAtlas (57).

Once you press a dot, a small summary pops up. If you click on See more, you will see all the information of the conflict, including the description of the conflict, the main actors and social movements. You will also see the question “Do you consider this case an environmental justice success?”. There is so much information that you can easily spend the whole afternoon jumping from case to case. Now check the conflicts in your country. Were you aware of them? What is the most common type of conflict in your country? Check also other countries. Do they have the same amount and type of conflicts?

If you want to, you can be part of the EJAtlas and add information of any environmental conflict that has not been uploaded. Your information will be double checked before being published and it will then be available to the general public!