The 9th Japan-ASENAN seminar: “Borderlands and (un)sustainable natural resource use”

Date & Time: January 25, Friday, 2019 15:00-16:00
Venue: Small Conference Room Ⅰ, 3F Inamori Foundation Building

Speaker: Victoria Junquera (ETH Zurich)
Title: “Borderlands and (un)sustainable natural resource use”

MC: Noboru Ishikawa

Borderlands possess qualities that may make them likely scenarios of
rapid or unsustainable use of natural resources. Borderlands have unique
specificities: they are characterized by cross-border unifying features
(e.g., cross-border kinship or trade networks) as well as by
cross-border differentials (e.g., different labor costs, salaries,
etc.), which may become drivers for rapid natural resource use. For
instance, cross-border social networks are thought to have contributed
to the rapid spread of rubber in northern Laos. Furthermore, borderland
regions are frequently characterized by their remoteness and
inaccessibility, rendering them likely stages of natural resource
accumulation and simultaneous lack of institutional development, both of
which may encourage rapid and often illegal natural resource
exploitation. For example, logging bans in Vietnam shifted illegal
logging activities to borderland forests in Laos – an example of both
lack of regulatory enforcement and cross-border differentials.
Territorialization policies by national governments seeking to establish
state control over remote or contested areas have also contributed to
rapid agricultural transitions in borderland and non-borderland areas.
Bans on swiddening or slash and burn aimed, in part, at population
control and land rationalization could be inscribed under the banner of
territorialization and were key drivers of cash crop expansion in
secondary tropical and subtropical forests. For all these drivers,
borderlands do not always become the stage of unsustainable natural
resource use. In this presentation, I explore the drivers and
“inhibitors”, characteristics, and pathways involved in natural resource
use in borderland areas and argue that agency and attitude of the local
population and local government are key determinants of (un)sustainable
resource use.