Sustainability Science

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 649–660 | Cite as

Violence in environmental conflicts: the need for a multidimensional approach

  • Grettel NavasEmail author
  • Sara Mingorria
  • Bernardo Aguilar-González
Special Feature: Case Report The EJAtlas: Ecological Distribution Conflicts as Forces for Sustainability
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: The EJAtlas: Ecological Distribution Conflicts as Forces for Sustainability


Although studies on environmental conflicts have engaged with the subject of violence, a multidimensional approach has been lacking. Using data from 95 environmental conflicts in Central America, we show how different forms of violence appear and overlap. We focus on direct, structural, cultural, slow, and ecological forms of violence. Results suggest that the common understanding of violence in environmental conflicts as a direct event in time and space is only the tip of the iceberg and that violence can reach not only environmental defenders, but also communities, nature, and the sustainability of their relations.


Multidimensional violence Resistance Environmental conflict Environmental Justice Atlas (EJATLAS) Central America 



We thank Arnim Scheidel, Joan Martínez Alier, Giacomo D’Alisa, anonymous reviewers, and members of the ENVJustice Project for comments on the previous versions. We also thank collaborators of the EJAtlas in Central America, Francisco Venes, and Lena Weber for language revision. Grettel Navas and Sara Mingorría acknowledge support from the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant ENVJustice (No. 695446).


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List of cases from Environmental Justice Atlas:

  1. EJaltas (2015d) Ecocide in River La Pasion, Guatemala In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 15 Dec 2016
  2. EJatlas (2014a) Hydroelectric Project Patuca III (Piedras Amarillas), Honduras. In: Atlas Environ Justice. Accessed 7 Jan 2017
  3. EJatlas (2014b) Interoceanic Grand Canal project, Nicaragua. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 7 Jan 2017
  4. EJatlas (2014c) Los Micos Beach and Golf Resort Project. In: Atlas Environ Justice. Accessed 7 Jan 2017
  5. EJatlas (2014d) Oil palm plantations in the Bajo Agúan, Honduras. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 7 Jan 2017
  6. EJatlas (2014e) Crucias, Costa Rica. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 14 Jan 2018
  7. EJatlas (2014f) Sugarcane cultivation and oil palm plantation in Polochic valley, Guatemala. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 14 Jan 2017
  8. EJatlas (2015a) Chixoy Dam and Rio Negro massacre, Guatemala. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 14 Jan 2018
  9. EJatlas (2015b) Offshore Oil drilling, Belize. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 8 Jan 2018
  10. EJatlas (2015c) Oil Extraction in Laguna del Tigre, Guatemala. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 8 Dec 2016
  11. EJatlas (2016a) Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Xalalá, Guatemala. Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 10 Jan 2018
  12. EJatlas (2016b) Chalillo Dam, Belize. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed Jan 2018
  13. EJatlas (2016c) Barro Blanco Dam, Panama. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 8 Jan 2017
  14. EJatlas (2016d) DBCP toxic exposure in banana plantations in Costa Rica In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 10 Jan 2017
  15. EJatlas (2016e) DBCP toxic exposure in banana plantations in Nicaragua In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 10 Jan 2017
  16. EJatlas (2016f) DBCP toxic exposure in banana plantations in Honduras In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 10 Jan 2017
  17. EJatlas (2016g) Shark Finning, Costa Rica. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 17 Jan 2017
  18. EJatlas (2017a) Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Agua Zarca, Honduras. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 10 Jan 2018
  19. EJatlas (2017b) Oil palm and National Park Jeannette Kawas, Honduras. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 7 Aug 2017
  20. EJatlas (2017c) Pacific Rim at El Dorado mine, El Salvador. In: Atlas Environ. Justice. Accessed 8 Jan 2017
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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA)Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.FRACTAL CollectiveMadridSpain
  3. 3.Fundación NeotrópicaSan JoséCosta Rica

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