Council Event Listings

World Affairs Council of Western Michigan | The War on Drugs and Its Environmental Impact

February 21

Monday, February 21, 6 p.m. EST, in-person at Grand Rapids Community College's ATC Center Auditorium or virtually on-line. Part of the 2022 Great Decisions Series. Register at

The US-led War on Drugs in Latin America has created a cat and mouse game that pushes drug traffickers into remote areas. Drug traffickers finance illegal cattle ranching and oil palm cultivation in protected areas to legitimize their presence, claim smuggling territory, and to launder money.

Dr. Jennifer Devine’s research team integrates remote sensing, GIS, and ethnographic methods to analyze drug trafficking’s environmental impacts in Central America’s protected areas. Their research reveals that drug trafficking is a key driver of deforestation in Guatemalan and Honduran national parks. In the era of the Drug War Conservation, Indigenous and peasant community-resource management is the most viable conservation strategy: this approach simultaneously achieves environmental sustainability, improves security and governance, and serves as a means of social and environmental justice.

Dr. Jennifer Devine is a critical human geographer and political ecologist who studies human-environmental relations, US - Central American politics, community resource management, grassroots social movements, global drug policy, and tourism and heritage management. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University.


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