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Veronica Herrera

Tue, Sep 19, 2023    1:15pm

Slow Harms and Citizen Action: Environmental Degradation and Policy Change in Latin American Cities

A lecture by Veronica Herrera, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Political Science at UCLA, organized as part of the Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS) at Columbia GSAPP.

Slow-moving environmental harms are typically ignored or accepted parts of everyday life, particularly in low-resource settings in Global South cities. How do communities mobilize around habituated exposure to toxins and initiate policy change for a historically ignored policy problem? This talk will present research from a new book, Slow Harms and Citizen Action, which compares advocacy movements for river pollution remediation in the capital regions of Argentina, Colombia, and Peru. Citizen-led efforts helped create environmental governance through networks that included impacted communities (bonding mobilization) and resourced allies (bridging mobilization). Citizen action for environmental advocacy included diverse claims-making strategies such as protests, marches, rallies, participatory institutions, litigation, and media campaigns, and was strongest in cities with established human rights movements. By unpacking human rights movements as thoroughfares for environmental activism, these cases shed new light on the struggles for environmental justice in Latin America.

Veronica Herrera is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Political Science at UCLA. She studies the politics of development in Global South cities with a focus on Latin America. Her research interests include urban politics, decentralization, civil society participation, social mobilization, and environmental politics and policymaking. Dr. Herrera is also an expert on water policy in international development. She is the author of Water and Politics: Clientelism and Reform in Urban Mexico (University of Michigan Press, 2017), and the forthcoming book, Slow Harms and Citizen Action: Environmental Degradation and Policy Change in Latin American Cities (Oxford Univ Press, 2023). New projects include work on plastics, waste pickers and the global waste economy, and all things garbage.

Organized by the Urban Planning Program at Columbia GSAPP.