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The darker side of green

November 7, 2014
Pambazuka News

New research unveiled today in Oslo debunks many of the popular claims that carbon trading represents a ‘win-win’ for rural communities and the environment. First hand accounts from Uganda reveal that some villagers have experienced forced evictions, restricted access to land and food, in addition to loss of livelihood – all in the name of international ‘green’ investment. 

This research investigates Norwegian company, Green Resources, and its forestry-based carbon offset projects in Uganda. The company claims to be the largest operator of ‘green’ forestry plantations on the African continent, and including licenses on over 10,000 hectares of land in Uganda alone, with additional landholdings in Mozambique and Tanzania.

Green Resources states that its objective is to “contribute to mitigating climate change … and contributing to sustainable environmental management, community development and poverty alleviation in Uganda.” 

On the basis of such claims, the company has received investments and loans from international aid and investment development agencies, including NORFUND.

However, locals tell of the hidden social costs of these projects.

Australian researchers Drs Kristen Lyons, Peter Westoby and Carol Richards have conducted research over last two years to shed light on the ‘darker side’ of the green economy, including interviews with over 150 Ugandan villagers. They will present their findings at a public event organised by the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development (ForUM), Future in Our Hands, Spire and the Development Fund in cooperation with Oakland Institute. 

Lead researcher Dr Kristen Lyons says, "While carbon trading based on the offset of environmental pollution from the global north to the global south is widely championed as a good news story, this research highlights the need for much more scrutiny of such initiatives. It is unacceptable to expect those already living at the margins of existence – with high levels of poverty, food insecurity, poor access to health, sanitation and education – to carry a disproportionate burden in addressing the global climate crisis."

The report is accessible through the web site: 


Dr Kristen Lyons, Associate Professor of Sociology
The University of Queensland, Australia
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +617 3365 2020