Towards Climate Justice: community-based strategies against resource grabbing and Climate injustice in rural Mozambique

A Joint Project by Dr. Boaventura Monjane and Natacha Bruna

Rural livelihoods are based on access to the commons. What does it mean to the commons when climate change impacts and climate change policies, are both vehicles to the deterioration of rural livelihoods? This research aims to understand how climate injustices are being manifested on the ground, at the level of rural households. Additionally, it aims to further explore reactions to these injustices and initiatives that are being conducted in order to counter-respond to those injustices. In short, this project aims to explore community-based strategies and their active agency to challenge resource grabbing and climate injustice in two sites in Central Mozambique.

There is a need to further explore and understand the dynamics of unbalanced benefits from natural resources and from the climate crisis itself. So, in order to achieve that, the projects will be guided by two main and complementary research questions.

  1. What are the implications of the double-sided injustices of climate change in rural livelihoods and global dynamics of accumulation in Mozambique?
  2. How can initiatives and emancipatory politics from below build ways towards building climate justice in Mozambique?

Areas of study

Case 1: Nyambita REDD+ project: Failures and resistances (Sofala province, Mozambique)

The “Nhambita Community Carbon Project” was run by a UK based company, Envirotrade, aiming to capture carbon through agroforestry, and sell carbon credits on the voluntary markets, which comprised Europe and the United States. In addition to using their land to plant trees (gliricidia, faidherbia, cashew trees, mango trees, and timber-yielding varieties), peasant communities were also expected to protect and patrol a defined area of just over 10,000 hectares, from which Envirotrade also sells carbon credits through the REDD+ mechanism. This project was said to exploitative and reproducing climate injustice. Research conducted by one of the candidates in 2012 showed that the project was compromising production and people's sovereignty in Nhambita community as it could exacerbate food insecurity and could result in the loss of control over land and forest resources for African farmers.

Our research in Nhambita will look at the contradictions of REDD+ project and bring voices of local small-scale farmers and local authorities to assess the ways in which the project has impacted livelihoods. We aim to reflect on how fair is it to these communities to “host” projects that are aiming the solution of a crisis that was caused somewhere else in the globe? Who is effectively winning from the implementation of such projects? How fair is it that small-scale and peasant communities are not the ones who “profit”/ “win” the most out of the implementation of those adaptation and mitigation policies? Even for those who can get a few “benefits”, does it affect the risk and the cost of their livelihoods and well-being?

Case 2: Mabu Agroecology Project (Zambézia)

Mabu is a mountain community of enormous beauty, covered by a beautiful and very diverse forest, it also has small animals and large and small rivers. There is some land conflict in Mabu, namely a rubber tree plantation company acquired a portion of land in Mabu from a tea plantation company that displaced local communities living in the village. Justiça Ambiental is working in the area with a group of local small-scale farmers to establish a vibrant agroecology project as a counter-strategy to agrarian capital that has been penetrating. Justiça Ambiental frames the project as a practical construction of climate justice through agroecology. Our research in Mabu will highlight agroecology and food sovereignty being built by local small-scale and family farmers in order to make visible the active agency of local people in constructing their localized food systems as a way to defeat climate injustice. We aim to further understand how can these set of bottom-up emancipatory initiatives contribute to climate justice? What can other communities (such as Nyambita) learn from Mabu towards climate justice?