Exploring Environmental Justice in Small-Scale Hydroelectricity Power Plant (HPP) Development in Rural Turkey

  • Ramazan Caner Sayan

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research examines the recent hydroelectricity power plant (HPP) phase of Turkey’s water management within the context of environmental justice. Approximately 2000 smallscale HPPs have been planned and/or constructed in Turkey, mostly in its rural parts since 2001. Yet these HPPs have aroused socio-environmental debates at the construction sites. On the one hand, due to their socio-economic and environmental impacts, technocratic nature and top-down implementation, HPPs have been mostly met with frustration by the local communities. On the other hand, there have been HPP cases consented by the locals when they have been assured with minimal socio-environmental impacts and/or financially compensated. This research departs from such public reactions against HPPs in which justice is viewed as the key notion in shaping HPP processes and subsequent public reactions.

    This research essentially aims at deconstructing Turkey’s HPP process within the context of making environmental justice claims at multiple scales to assess this departure point. The conceptual framework of this research argues that making an environmental justice claim should include three components of ‘justice’, ‘process’ and ‘evidence’. For ‘justice’, patterns of the ideal environmental justice were discussed within the context of distributive, recognitional and participative (procedural) justice. In explaining the ‘process’ of how current socio-environmental (in)equalities bound to HPPs are conceived, Turkey’s water policies and discourses were deconstructed with the explanatory framework of ‘political ecology’ in a multi-faceted and multi-scalar way. After this preliminary analysis, in presenting ‘evidence’, four HPP cases from Turkey’s Western Mediterranean Province were used to explore socio-environmental transformations caused by HPPs. Accordingly public reactions against the HPPs, three of which were massive protests, while the others resulted in consent of the locals are examined in this exploration.

    Keeping the analysis within the context of environmental justice and drawing on qualitative methods, including three months of field research, factors leading to such public reactions were identified within the patterns suggested in ‘justice’. In turn, this research comes to the conclusion that Turkey’s HPP process cannot be considered as just. In addition to this deductive analysis, this research has significantly contributed to the existing environmental justice literature since it has discussed and formulated a unique framework of making environmental justice claims that can be applicable in non-Western context.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAndrew Allan (Supervisor) & Chris Spray (Supervisor)

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