Environmental Effort as Inequality: Justice and Inequity in the name of the Environment. For a comparative analysis of biodiversity and water policies in metropolitan and overseas France – EFFIJIE

Submission summary

The stakes raised by global environmental changes confront more than ever the public policies with a double requirement of environmental efficiency and social justice. They rekindle the debates on the compatibility between struggles for the preservation of natural resources and against social inequalities, as well as the equity of monetary compensations. Yet, they cannot be settled in a simplistic and holistic manner, considering the diversity of ecological stakes and inequality criteria to be considered. EFFIJIE explores how social cohesion is put into stress in territories defined by two specific public policies in France: biodiversity protection, with the creation of new national parks (Parc des calanques in Marseille, Parc de la Réunion) and water quality protection, with the implementation of agri-environmental measures (MAET) and “Grenelle” drinking water abstractions (in La Réunion, Deux-Sèvres, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Yonne). The project aims to identify a form of environmental equality which has not yet been properly conceptualized: environmental effort. Generated by public policies, it amounts to a contribution to the protection of the environment, differentiated across social categories, the effort being then disproportionally borne by the poorest. The validity and scope of this assumption will be checked by using a twofold comparative analysis: depending on the public instrument granting a financial compensation (MAET and “Grenelle” abstractions) or not (national parks), and depending on territories (metropolitan France / La Réunion).
The conceptual and methodological originality of the EFFIJIE proposal rests on an association between three previously separated approaches of environmental inequalities: statistical (quantitative objectification of the environmental effort distribution), ethical (objectification through the actors subjectivity) and socio-historic (explanatory). This originality requires skills from several disciplines - sociology, economics, geography as well as statistics, anthropology, urban planning, history and law. The project is therefore structured in different tasks:
- Task 1: characterizing the distribution of the environmental effort required by national parks and agri-environment schemes (MAET and “Grenelle”) on a national scale by distinguishing the mainland and overseas regions in the analysis of existing databases.
- Task 2: characterizing the subjective dimension of the generated inequalities: is this distribution of the environmental effort deemed fair or inequitable, according to which principles of justice? This qualitative approach requires the analysis of the texts framing the public policies, as well as surveys of institutional and targeted populations.
- Task 3: understanding how - and with which interactions on a territorial scale -, environmental public policies strengthen or decrease inequalities. This task implements a tight interdisciplinarity because of the complexity of considered processes (definition of zonings, access to decision-making arenas, interactions between environmental policies, planning and sector-based policies).
In fine, EFFIJIE contributes to the interdisciplinary structuring of researches dealing with environmental inequalities, still underdeveloped in France. EFFIJIE will indeed propose and test an innovative analytical framework of environmental effort, referring to Environmental Justice, Political Ecology, economic theories of justice and theories of social justice. This framework will benefit from debates organized between the EFFIJIE scientists, the follow-up committee and research teams – including foreign ones - working on environmental inequalities and justice (Task 4).

Project coordination

Jacqueline CANDAU (UR Aménités et dynamiques des espaces ruraux - Irstea) –

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


TELEMME - DR12 CNRS Temps, Espaces, Langages, Europe Méridionale, Méditerranée
CURAPS-DIMPS Centre Universitaire de Recherche en Activités Physiques et Sportives - Determinants Intercultrels de la Motricité et de la Performance
LPED / U-Aix-Marseille Laboratoire Population Environnement Développement
GREThA - U-Bdx4 Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée
CERTOP - CNRS DR14 CNRS Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Travail, Organisation et Pouvoir
Irstea - ADBX UR Aménités et dynamiques des espaces ruraux - Irstea

Help of the ANR 619,673 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2014 - 48 Months

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