Rubbish Justice: A political ecology of Tibar's dumpsite-to-landfill upgrade in Timor-Leste
In pursuing significant infrastructural upgrades to solid waste management systems, how do decision-makers balance social safeguarding with wider system improvements? What are the implications for justice, if the people most affected by the development have been providing unrecognised labour within the waste management system? Adopting an intentionally political lens, this thesis presents an analysis of power and justice within the case study of Tibar’s dumpsite-to-landfill upgrade, in Timor-Leste. This research was conducted at a critical time while the upgrade was developing. Through a political ecology framework, supported by environmental justice, it emerges that there is a disconnect between stakeholders’ and decision-makers’ intentions versus their ability to act on these intentions. Several systemic barriers exist in waste-pickers’ justice being met. In some instances, these barriers constitute such injustices. This thesis further evidences the claim that the impacts of the growing global waste problem are not evenly distributed throughout society. Tibar dumpsite is established as a political space where the intersection of waste and labour is dynamic and changing, brought to light by the proposed dumpsite-to-landfill upgrade.