Anthony Bebbington

Natural resource extraction after COVID: social justice challenge

Anthony Bebbington of the Ford Foundation discussed extraction of natural resources as a social justice question, particularly in light of COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday 10.09.2021

Global Witness’s annual reports on the killings of environmental defenders are but one, awful, indication of the social injustices that can accompany the extraction of natural resources from the subsoil and from forests. The struggle for social justice in these environments has become yet more difficult under COVID, all the more so given the impacts of COVID on indigenous populations in many of these environments. These challenges seem likely to intensify downstream of COVID in the face of economic reactivation policies, closing civic space, the search for energy transition minerals, and a politics of urgency that risks undermining a politics of social justice. In this talk I explore some of these trends and the challenges they present to civil society and to philanthropies that support civil society. I will refer especially to the experience of the Ford Foundation, while also making a broader argument.

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International Director, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Ford Foundation. Anthony Bebbington has had a distinguished career as a scholar, a researcher, teacher, policy analyst, and advocate. He was Director of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University from 2010 to 2017, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014. In addition to a long career in academia at Clark University, University of Melbourne, University of Manchester, and University of Colorado, he also held leadership positions at the World Bank and at non-profit think tanks focused on natural resources and development, including the International Institute for Environment and Development and Overseas Development Institute, both in London. Over the last ten years, Bebbington has served as an advisor to Ford in numerous capacities which helped inform our work on resource extraction and governance.

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