In some places “fighting for the environment” means writing letters to elected officials or marching in protest against a polluter. In others, it means quite literally risking life and limb. Now media, governments, justice organizations and others have better access than ever to the stories of environmental heroes who put their lives on the line with the release last month of an upgrade of the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice, an interactive online map showcasing the faces and places of local resistance to assaults on the environment.
Like its predecessor, the updated atlas offers concrete descriptions of instances of environmental injustice around the world, including location, type and source of conflict, players, impacts, status and possible alternatives. Improvements over the previous atlas, which has received more than a quarter of a million visits since it launched a year ago, include expanded coverage in countries such as China and Western Sahara; easier sharing via social media; and a more customizable search function that allows users to sort by types of activity, tactics, country, company and other parameters.
According to coordinator Leah Temple, the atlas is used by academics, students, activists, affected communities, policy makers and the general public for a variety of purposes, from satisfying their own curiosity to informing advocacy campaigns to uncovering case studies for educational purposes. The atlas is supported by the European Union and is coordinated by Joan Martinez Alier, member of the Autonomous University of Barcelona faculty.