• political ecology;
  • postcolonial;
  • contextual sources;
  • environmental aid;
  • Japan;
  • Philippines

This paper argues for the utility of a focus on contextualized sources of environmental change to address the ever more diverse contexts of political ecology. In order to overcome the conventional approach to contextual sources that has tended to be analytically one-dimensional and limited, I seek to provide a more nuanced account, notably by examining the neglected case of green aid of a nonwestern aid donor, Japan. Using conceptual tools that are both conjuncture-based and multiscalar, the paper examines the way in which a post-Rio international policy drive to promote so called green aid during the 1990s was translated into and conditioned by the historically and geographically specific contexts of Japan and the aid recipient featured herein, the Philippines. This focus on contextual sources helps to elucidate (i) how the ambiguous nature of international aid criteria combined together with Japan's own domestic political economy to render problematic an ostensibly environmental project, (ii) the manner in which neoliberal economic restructuring was translated into one of Japan's key policy initiatives in the 1990s and formed the backdrop to the specific aid case project discussed here, (iii) how Japan's environmental aid process in the Philippines was shaped through a repoliticization of various green discourses, and (iv) how the complex dynamics among stakeholders ended up compromising the very nature of the case study project.