This introductory paper to the special section of Global Environmental Change entitled "Global transformations, social metabolism and the dynamics of socio-environmental conflicts" argues that the emergence of new global economic centers is inducing a major expansion in the global social metabolism-the flows of energy and materials into the world economy -, a transformation in the systems for the extraction and provision of natural resources, as well as setting the conditions for socio-environmental conflicts at the commodity frontiers, particularly in areas with a dense human occupation of the territory. We point out that we are currently experiencing global transformations that constitute the beginning of a new historical phase of modern capitalism. The aim of the paper is to draw an overall picture of such transformations, to discuss some of their implications for resource-rich countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa, and by doing so to provide an analytical framework that allow us to make explicit the linkages between the different papers that compose the special section. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
- Hegemonic transitions
- Resource-rich countries
- Social metabolism
- Socio-environmental conflicts