Seminar "Renewable Energy in Tunisia: dependency, privatization and local struggles" & "New Masks, Old Colonialism: Wind Energy Projects in the Western Sahara and the Golan Heights"

Le 07/06/2023

with Chafik Ben Rouine, Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE), Noura Alkhalidi, Muna Dajani, and Yahia Mahmoud

Renewable Energy in Tunisia: dependency, privatization and local struggles

While Tunisia is now entering a new energy transition, following its international commitments, almost no debate has occurred at the national level on the redistributive aspects of this transition, which raises crucial questions. For instance, who will benefit and who will lose from this transition? Who controls the knowledge and technology that will be used to implement this transition and to what extent will this transition deepen Tunisia’s historical dependency on imperial powers? Will this energy transition open the door to the liberalization and the privatization of the energy sector? To what extent will this energy transition help to address the issues of structural unemployment and inequality in the country? Will this transition facilitate an increase in democratic control over natural resources or will it exacerbate capitalistic land-grabbing at the expense of local communities?

Chafik Ben Rouine is the co-founder and the President of the Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE). He has 10 years of experience in development economics (agriculture, energy, social protection, inequality and poverty), international finance (international financial system, and international financial institutions), monetary policy, trade (free trade agreements, WTO mechanisms), tax justice (IFF, tax and domestic resource mobilisation) in Tunisia and the MENA region.

New Masks, Old Colonialism: Wind Energy Projects in the Occupied Western Sahara and the Syrian Golan Heights

The dominant global narratives about the state of the planet and its inhabitants are presented as neutral proposals serving the common interest of ‘mankind’. At the heart of these narratives, we find concepts such as environmental peace-building, sustainable development and climate change mitigation, that have been critiqued for not only their lack of neutrality, but their contribution to the denial of basic human rights such as self-determination, sovereignty, and ultimately, the right to exist. This article exemplifies the above and further explores the connections between ‘green extractivism’ and illegally occupied territories through a critical overview of dominant concepts such as sustainable development and ecological modernization. We argue that renewable energy projects are a manifestation of ecological modernization that is completely ignoring aspects of justice and self-determination of communities undergoing (settler) colonial control. We do so by delving into wind energy projects in occupied Western Sahara and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Although touted as a solution to mitigating climate change, wind energy development in these two cases violates international law and the principle of self-determination. We show how narratives about climate change mitigation are used to justify illegal land occupation and prolong the colonial project by using ‘new’ means.

Noura AlKhalili is a Postdoctoral fellow at the Human Ecology Division, Department of Human Geography/ Lund University. Her current research engages with energy transitions in North Africa, the potential energy export from North Africa to Europe, green extractivism and violent conflicts, and energy justice. She holds a PhD in Human Geography from Lund University.

Muna Dajani holds a PhD from the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics (LSE). Her research focuses on documenting water struggles in agricultural communities under settler colonialism. She is a Senior Research Associate at the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) where she works on a project entitled “Transformations to Groundwater Sustainability” (T2GS), exploring grassroots initiatives of intergenerational holistic groundwater governance. She has contributed to numerous studies on the hydropolitics of the Jordan and Yarmouk River Basins. She also co-led a collaboration project documenting the story of the occupation of the Syrian Golan through developing an online knowledge portal featuring collective memories of the popular struggle in the region.

Yahia Mahmoud is senior lecturer in Human Geography and Development Studies. Before turning to geography, he studied international relations and political science in Latin America, Development Studies in Sweden and China’s socio-economic transformation at South China Normal University in Canton. Nowadays, his research interest is within the confines of development geography and development studies, but he also deals with issues of energy transition in rural areas, innovation in the global south, as well as political ecology

June 7th 2023 · 12H (CET)

Online on ZOOM. Register through the following link.

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