If every human being on this planet is entitled to the same amount of resources and environmental space, then those who take up less space have a credit towards those who eventually take up more. The concept of ecological debt, a term used since 1992 by some environmental organisations from the South, is based on this idea of environmental justice.
The ecological debt actually started taking place during the colonial era and continued to increase up to the present time. It is mainly defined as the accumulated debt from Northern industrialised countries toward the Southern nations for two main reasons. First, the export of raw materials at very low prices without considering the environmental damages caused by their extraction or production activities, nor its contamination on a global scale, such as the greenhouse effect. The second is the free (or low-cost) use of environmental resources – such as atmosphere, water and land - to deposit the resulting waste. Expressing part of the ecological debt in monetary values, and comparing it - however approximately - to foreign monetary debt, shows that the latter has already been largely repaid and that the North owes the South, not vice-versa.
The campaign for the restitution of ecological debt started in Rio de Janeiro during the 1990’s, and widened to embrace different voices and demands worldwide. These voices ask us to highlight social inequality and to fight the imposition of monocultures based on profit and marketing at the expense of biodiversity, community welfare and environmental sustainability. They ask us to protect and empower ecologically sustainable communities while recognising the key role played by peasant and indigenous communities in the preservation of agricultural diversity and wildlife. They ask us to preserve their cultural heritage and strengthen its diversity for present and future generations. They ask us to halt the patenting of life on Earth, to fight the increase in transgenic crops and the privatisation of land, water, energy and communications.
The ecological debt campaign is about civilization and survival, and must involve Governments, the European Union and major UN agencies in trying to revive the debate on alternative economic and business systems.
What is the CDCA’s mission?
Information and awareness campaigns
The CDCA supports the European Network for the Recognition of Ecological Debt (ENRED) in Italy with a broader campaign including specific projects and initiatives about social and environmental justice.
CDCA articles, publications and interviews on environmental justice and ecological debt are published or broadcast by national and International media outlets.
The CDCA - Documentation Centre on Environmental Conflicts – was ideated basing part of its reflexion on the consideration that addressing ecological debt can be a measure to respond social, environmental and economic injustice.
In 2008-2010 the CDCA participated in the European Civil Society Engagement with Ecological Economics project (CEECEC), launched by the Autonomous University of Barcelona, together with several other academic institutions and ecological organisations from Europe, Latin America, India and Africa. The project aimed at creating an on going collaboration between land and social struggles worldwide with the academic world, in order to build new strategies for environmental conflict management and prevention
The CDCA is also part of the EJOLT project, including more than 23 academic partners and associations and aimed at mapping environmental conflicts cases and analysing environmental justice around the world.
In particular, along with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Kwazulu-Natal University, the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines and Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth, Nigeria), the CDCA carried a research project on environmental justice and ENI’s ecological debt in Italy and elsewhere.
What you can do
Join our campaign! You can participate at our various events, help in organising ‘caravans’ and meetings, volunteering at information stands, or translating articles and documents .... Get involved!
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