Environmental Politics under Authoritarian Rule: activism, policy and governance

Workshop attendees in a group photo

Dr Ellie Martus, Centre for Governance and Public Policy Griffith University, and Associate Professor Fengshi Wu, University of New South Wales, co-convened an international conference this month titled “Environmental Politics under Authoritarian Rule: activism, policy, and governance”. The conference was funded by a grant from the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) with additional funding provided by CGPP and UNSW.

Keynote speakers Professor David Sonnenfeld, State University of New York (SUNY) and Professor Robyn Eckersley from the University of Melbourne joined academic experts and practitioners to explore issues related to the politics of the environment under authoritarian states at a time when transboundary ecological challenges and climate change are at the top of state policy agendas.

Topics of discussion included civil society engagement and advocacy in authoritarian settings, the potential impacts of different governance arrangements on environmental outcomes, the connection between authoritarianism, populism, and the environment, and whether addressing climate change could lead to political destabilisation and the rise of illiberal politics.

The conference raised issues and themes around environmental governance and power contestation between states and social forces that will frame the future research collaboration between academics and practitioners.