Socio-ecological Transformation and Energy Policy in Latin America and Europe

Time: 11 - 14 July 2012
Venue: Gartenhotel Altmannsdorf, Vienna, and others
Languages: English, Spanish, German
Organisation: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels; Prof. Dr. Ulrich Brand, Vienna University; Karl-Renner-Institute, Vienna
Contact: Marlis Gensler, Tel. +32 (0)2738 7663

At the seminar in Vienna, some key emancipatory issues for a socio-ecological transformation have been highlighted and discussed - on the basis of concrete experiences in Germany and Austria, at the European level, and in some Latin American countries.

The seminar is part of a longer-term process that addresses the issue of socio-ecological transformation analytically, in terms of political strategy, and by reference to examples.

The central issue of the seminar:

What does emancipatory social-ecological transformation mean concretely, and, in terms of practical policy, particularly in the area of energy resources and their production, distribution and consumption – today and in future?

The topics of the seminar:

1) Our point of departure is the experiences and struggles in Latin America and Europe – politicization, mobilization, the role of social movements and political-institutional actors, alliances, and key terms that place issues in perspective: Which dynamics, demands – for example, “Leave the resources in the ground!” – and strategies does the specific resistance to the extraction and use of fossil energy resources have? To what extent are they – or are they not – part of broader societal projects? Why are so many movements local (Maristella Svampa “giro eco-territorial “)? What is the role not only of protests and movements, but also of already legally established forms of struggle, such as environmental impact assessments (example: the Hidroaysén dam project in Chile was postponed twice by such instruments, only to ultimately be approved under the new president)? And are progressive actors not depending on precisely this, when they call for new constitutions and laws: upon the legal establishment of emancipatory concerns? What does that mean? The focus is to be on struggles in the energy area, including raw materials, production processes and relationships, and their connection with ways of living.

2) We intend to link this complex of issues to the specific contexts of action (structures) which are being changed or need to be changed in order to stabilize, to strengthen, and if necessary to societally generalize the concrete alternatives. We will analyze in which coalitions of rulership these experiences and struggles occur: capitalism, the global market, geo-politics, the financial markets, opponents, extractivism, the imperial way of life, political conditions.

3) Only in the third stage will we, selectively and in an open process, address the issue of the requirements for a socio-ecological transformation which have previously not been part of the struggle, such as a North-South relationship based on solidarity, global sustainability in terms of real resource availability, or new technologies. Some struggles, such as those against resource depletion, are defensive, and induce alternatives elsewhere and very indirectly, thus raising issues not only politically/strategically, but also substantively, i.e., in terms of technology, natural spaces, and realizability taking resource scarcity into account, without simply assuming a “peak-everything” situation, or the limits of the global carrying capacity. The issue of needs and subjectivities is one that is to be addressed here.

4) Open questions: What problems of intra-left tensions and confrontation exist? One strategically important factor is: Here, we are connecting to a broad socio-political debate in this country, where the concept of socio-ecological transformation/restructuring is frequently used – which implies an important process of clarification for the left political spectrum in the narrow sense.


Programme, Participants & Practical Information:

>> Programme in English pdf
>> Programme in German pdf
>> Programme in Spanish pdf
>> List of Participants pdf

Papers, Report, Photos:

>> Introduction to the seminar by Ulrich Brand
>> Papers and Thesis Papers in English pdf
>> Papers and Thesis Papers in German pdf
>> Papers and Thesis Papers in Spanish pdf
>> Report by Ulrich Brand

The Seminar in the Press:

>> Article on ICA and the Seminar at Der Standard in German
>> Article on ICA and the Seminar at ORF Austria in German
>> Short Report in RosaLux_3-2012, p. 14, in German pdf

See also:

>> Critical Theory and Plurality - A Debate between Luis Tapia and Alex Demirovič, public event, Vienna 2012
>> Perspectives of Societal Transformation in Latin America and Europe, public event, Vienna 2012
>> How to Continue after Rio plus 20? On the campaign against Green Economy and on emancipatory struggles towards a new economic and societal model, public event, Vienna 2012
>> Preparatory seminar in Brussels in June 2011