About Agrarian & Environmental Justice

TNI’s Agrarian & Environmental Justice programme brings together research and analysis on the collective struggles of rural working people to democratise access, ownership, and control of land, water and other natural resources. It works closely in alliance with local, national and global alliances of small-scale farmers, fisherfolk and marginalised rural working people.

Frontline communities around the world are engaged in critical struggles to defend their own human rights and seek out decent and dignified livelihoods. As critical as these struggles for democratic control of resources by communities are to those directly impacted, they are also struggles of global import. These conflicts represent a struggle for an urgently-needed alternative vision of human relationships to territories, land, water, fisheries, and forests. Conflicts today take the form of struggles for indigenous territory and control; for small farmers’ and peasants’ rights to land, water and resources; for communities’ rights to food sovereignty; for workers’ rights to decent and dignified work; for fenceline communities’ rights to environmental justice; and more. These are critical points of intersection between an unsustainable vision of ongoing, unsustainable privatisation, commodification and extraction of resources on the one hand, and a diversity of alternative visions of democratic ownership and control of land, water, and territory on the other.

The world today is shaped by a growing and intensifying crisis: the climate and biodiversity crisis, and ever-expanding resource use and extraction, are bringing ever greater pressures to bear on territories, land, waters, forests, resources, and people. At the same time inequality is growing globally, and democratic control over resources is weakening.

Together these trends are leading to growing numbers of marginalized people around the world being disposessed of their territories, land, water, fisheries, forests and other resources on which they depend for their survival. For many of these communities these elements of the environment also play a critical role as parts of traditional territories, tied to their ways of living in the world and relating to non-human nature. In this sense, appropriation is linked with histories of colonialism and dispossession by those in power. As carbon, biodiverse ecosystems, clean water, and breathable air increasingly come to be seen as potentially marketable goods, growing numbers of market based initiatives which promise to “solve” the global environmental crisis have emerged. These threaten to further perpetuate dispossession, now in the name of “sustainable development” or “green capitalism,” through mechanisms like REDD++, blue carbon, and carbon trading, among others.

The Agrarian and Environmental Justice programme at TNI has a history of engaging with the global environmental crisis and supporting community-led struggles for democratic control of resources in two key ways: (1) by supporting communities and movements to develop powerful, useful shared analyses of their situations that strengthen their positive initiatives and provide tools for resistance and (2) by helping to provide and maintain spaces and platforms for further alliance and network building. We work with scholar-activists, frontline communities, allied civil social organizations and social movements to develop and share research, information, and analyses of their situations, of false solutions proposed by corporate interests, and of real solutions developed and led by communities. We also participate in a series of networks and partnerships where we provide logistical and technical support to communities and social movements, helping their voices to be heard in international governance spaces and supporting the creation of spaces and tools to further strengthen movements of global resistance.