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Making the Land Pay

Organisation James Orr
Date 25th October 2023 06:00 PM (GMT)

In light of recent debates on the state of the environment in Northern Ireland sparked by the deterioration of Lough Neagh and in the absence of executive leadership to tackle a range of socio-ecological crises, the School of Natural and Built Environment (SNBE) at QUB is delighted to host a public lecture by James Orr (Director of Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland and recently appointed SNBE Honorary Professor).

The lecture will be followed by an opportunity for questions and debate, and refreshments.

This event is free, but please register for tickets.

Making the Land Pay

Northern Ireland is often described as politically dysfunctional, but rarely as a kleptocracy. In a kleptocracy (a term derived from the Greek for ‘thief’ and ‘rule’) corruption is not defined by an acceptance of a ‘brown envelope culture’ but of ‘grand corruption’ where high level political power enables a network, or in the case of NI, an ecosystem of elites, that amasses public funding to underpin private profits from resource depletion. Strategies that have been used in this Northern Irish form of kleptocracy have included simple regulatory capture to deep appropriation of areas of politics, law, media, and policing. The tactics are multi-layered, intentional and prefigurative that have developed an organisational ecology that is on a collision course with nature. Multiple metrics for public health, ecological health and bother indicators of sustainability and quality of life all point to accelerating degradation tantamount to an unfolding ecocide, caused by kleptocracy. To use the Ulster adage, they are literally making the land pay.

The response from many protectors has been to adopt an ecology of resistance. They deploy tactics that are also multi-layered and prefigurative. In this David and Goliath struggle for the land, law and water an emerging campaigning ecosystem is characterised no longer as ‘frenetic passivity’ but casual intensity. The kleptocratic nature of the state itself, including structures of law and regulatory systems, is recognised by many campaigners as neither neutral or passive but as the operating system or matrix for serial environmental crime and wealth extraction.

James Orr is law graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the Planning School at Queens University Belfast. He is the Director for Friends of the Earth in Northern Ireland and previously worked in local government and as the Northern Ireland Director for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. His areas of interest are the dynamics of movement building, earth rights and supporting communities who are suffering from environmental injustice.

Location: Queen’s University David Keir Building, Room DKB/OG/012 Stranmilis Rd Belfast BT9 5AG

Admission is free and tickets can be reserved online.

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