Rethinking Resource Management: Justice, Sustainability and Indigenous Peoples

Rethinking Resource Management: Justice, Sustainability and Indigenous Peoples

Rethinking Resource Management: Justice, Sustainability and Indigenous Peoples

Rethinking Resource Management: Justice, Sustainability and Indigenous Peoples

Synopsis

Employing a range of case studies, this book offers a sophisticated and convincing framework for rethinking the usual approaches to resource management. It argues that professional resource managers do not take responsibility for the social and environmental consequences of their decisions on the vulnerable indigenous communities they affect.

Excerpt

Across the world, indigenous peoples have faced displacement, dispossession, cultural and physical genocide and exposure to great risk from all manner of activities that have been justified in terms of their contributions to industrialisation, development and somebody else’s national (or even international) interest. As the governments of the old world order’s three worlds of development pursued their goals, indigenous peoples remained an anomalous fourth world - they resisted development. Somehow they (sometimes) survived.

In the final decade of the twentieth century, amid contested assertions of a ‘New World Order’, the United Nations agreed to a decade dedicated to the world’s indigenous peoples. Five hundred years after Columbus’ voyage of ‘discovery’ transformed the diverse self-governing worlds of the Americas into a single ‘new world’ for Europe to exploit, to govern and to transform, the persistent presence of indigenous peoples continues to challenge many of the assumptions underlying developmentalism.

Nowhere is the power of this challenge clearer than in the realm of resource management. Indigenous rights and concerns are implicated in many resource-based development projects. At the turning of the century, they have intruded into the policies and practices of many international agencies, transnational resource companies and inter-governmental and non-government bodies. Indigenous rights have also rapidly emerged as central in the industrialisation of biodiversity. In most nation states, even the concept of indigenous rights is controversial. Why should indigenous people be given rights unavailable to other citizens? This question is raised over and over again as a basis for restricting ‘concessions’ to ‘special interest groups’. A commitment to equality becomes the basis for imposing conditions on indigenous citizenship of and participation in national society. This process was clearly seen in Australia in the late 1990s, where the conservative Liberal-National coalition government substantially amended the Native Title Act 1993. Among the amendments were changes to the Act’s ‘right to negotiate’ provisions. The government’s defence was that this ‘right’ was unavailable to other property holders, it was not an inherent element of native title and it was a concession to indigenous people made by a previous government that it was not bound to retain. This vision of equality turns upside down the notion of indigenous

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