SP3: Designing and Implementing Restoration for Environmental Justice

Jacqueline Loos

Berta Martín-López

Shedding light on environmental justice considerations in restoration interventions is of utmost relevance to align with the Sustainable Development Goals. This is particularly important in countries of the global South, in which colonial legacies and concerted power imbalances continue to impact social-ecological interactions. Although decision-making increasingly considers distributive aspects of the benefits derived from restoration activities, there is a continued lack of systemic and mechanistic understanding of the relationship between multi-level restoration governance, environmental justice and the sustainability of restoration interventions. For this purpose, subproject 3 will systematically explore which governance arrangements facilitate or hinder structures to implement environmental justice in the dimensions of distribution, procedures, recognition, capabilities and power. 

We assume that governance arrangements strongly interact with power imbalances between stakeholders, which, in turn, co-determine the social and ecological outcomes of the restoration interventions. Thus, this project will test the relation between governance, environmental justice, power structures and place- and case-specific outcomes of restoration interventions. We anticipate detecting patterns and mechanisms explaining the degree to which a restoration intervention in the context of the Global South may lead to desirable social and ecological outcomes over the long run. By applying an intersectional decolonial framing of environmental justice in ecosystem restoration, our work will generate insights into how a nuanced critical environmental justice perspective can contribute to integrating restoration activities with the prospects of sustainable development. In partnership with three Rwandan researchers, this subproject will offer an opportunity for a PhD candidate to further qualify in the field of academic research on environmental governance through three distinct, consecutive work packages: First, through an analysis of the formal and informal institutions governing restoration interventions in twelve selected cases studies in Rwanda, we will explore how different governance profiles cater for environmental justice. Second, we will investigate how people that are involved and affected by restoration interventions perceive the consideration of different environmental justice dimensions and how this, in turn, shapes their attitude towards restoration effectiveness. Third, based on our empirical research, we will elaborate an understanding of how far power structures and processes influence governance effectiveness in restoration interventions. Finally, insights from these investigations will culminate in a synthesis work, in which we will relate the different context-specific restoration governance settings to multi-faceted social-ecological restoration outcomes.

Expected results

• It is likely that restoration interventions are ecologically and socially successful when governance structures cater for all dimensions of environmental justice.

• It is likely that successful restoration is related to less power imbalances.

• It is likely that social-ecological contextual variables mediate the relationship between governance, environmental justice, power structures and restoration outcomes.