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Theme 3.3 Environmental regulation and heritagisation of resources

This theme covers regulation mechanisms in terms of resource management, with a focus on their spatial set-up and territorial implications. In the early twenty-first century, the economic and environmental shortcomings of neoliberal globalisation have revealed the need for new regulations on resources. We aim to analyse the dissemination of regulation models, using their successes and failures as a guide to understand development processes, such as that of Timor (Redon, 2011 [1] ). This means investigating the relations of power that determine which resources need to be regulated as well as the tools available, their usage and their impact on relations of power between stakeholders – whether those are local or not. One first strand looks at State-led spatial regulation mechanisms such as environmental territorial planning (definition of environmental areas), policies for the geographic labelling of agricultural products or the delineation of protected areas. This strand includes for instance the work developed under the “Casava” ANR programme to support volcanic risk management mechanisms in the West Indies (in connection with Theme 2 research). Especially in Southern countries with a poor institutional capacity, these mechanisms are influenced by foreign concepts and tools (such as the notion of an integrated management of water resources) which are often difficult to translate into practice in these countries. Finally, processes aimed at listing nature as heritage (Cormier-Salem et al., 2005 [2]) are investigated in a range of contexts (the “Géodiversité” project on hazards and natural risk in the Araripe Geopark in Brazil).

We will investigate the impact of the exploitation of natural resources by large private corporations on environmental resources. Looking at Latin America’s forestry and agro-industry, or at Western Africa’s mining sector, we will study voluntary programmes (charters of good conduct, corporate social and environmental responsibility), consumer-led regulation, citizen information (accountability policies and access to environmental information) and the role played by aid agencies, development banks and large international NGOs. In particular, we will highlight national stakeholders’ influence on the evolution of rules and practices: our hypothesis is that the competition between corporations for access to natural resources has given these players an increased bargaining power, while exposing them to local opposition and conflict. We need to adopt a more subtle position in the debate on the role played by corporations from emerging countries in the development processes undergone by less advanced countries: one could argue that convergence between corporations is more frequent that competition for the least environmental outcomes (Bros et Richard, 2011 [3]; van Vliet et Magrin, 2012 [4] ).


[1] REDON 2011, « Timor-Leste, entre développement durable et hydrocarbures : le faux dilemme ? », in TAGLIONI F. (dir.), Insularité et développement durable, Montpellier, IRD Édition [coll. Objectifs Suds].

[2] Cormier-Salem M.-C., Juhé-Beaulaton D., Boutrais J., Roussel B. (dir.), 2005, Patrimoines naturels au Sud : territoires, identités et stratégies locales, Paris, IRD, 552 p.

[3] Bros A., RICHARD Y., 2011, « La relation énergétique Russie – Union européenne. La libéralisation du marché de l’énergie en Europe : chance ou défi pour Gazprom ? », Revue d’Etudes Comparatives Est Ouest, 42 (1), p. 157-181.

[4] Van Vliet G., MAGRIN G. (dir.), 2012, Une compagnie pétrolière chinoise face à l’enjeu environnemental au Tchad, Paris, AFD/Quae, 251 p. (Focales n°9)