March 2, 2023
Professor Robert Blair has been granted a 2023 Seed Award for his social sciences proposal titled, “Understanding and preventing violence against environmental activists in the Amazon.”
In the abstract for this project, Rob states: Violence against land and environmental activists has increased dramatically in recent years, with countries in Latin America registering by far the highest number of deaths. What are the causes of this violence and what can be done to prevent it? In this study, we propose to systematically explore the political determinants of environment-related violence and identify potentially promising interventions to mitigate it. We focus on the Amazon, which accounts for half of the remaining tropical forest on the planet. The project consists of two components. First, we propose to build a quantitative dataset of killings of environmental activists (including, e.g., indigenous leaders and community representatives involved in environmental protection initiatives) in Brazil over the past twenty years using reports from NGOs and other sources. Second, we will complement our quantitative data with qualitative interviews with local communities and environmental defenders to better understand the variety of threats they face, and to identify factors that might help explain variation in the timing and intensity of those threats. We will also explore the possibility of running a rigorous impact evaluation (e.g. a randomized controlled trial) to evaluate interventions aimed at reducing environment-related violence. The Amazon has a major influence on the world’s climate and hydrological cycles; as such, preserving it and the people who protect it is key in the fight against climate change. This project will advance Brown’s ongoing commitment to support sustainability research and interventions to combat environmental degradation in one of the world’s most environmentally precarious regions.
Research Seed Funding is an annual program aimed at helping early-stage research projects grow and help them build collaborations and find other funding sources. Proposals were solicited this fall and reviewed by panels of faculty reviewers.