This panel applies a political ecology approach to the Congress theme of ‘borders and margins’. Critical analyses of the dynamics of global environmental change are an ideal way of exploring these themes, precisely because environmental change crosses territorial borders, as well as moving between marine, terrestrial, riverine and atmospheric boundaries. Further, political ecology helps us interrogate the notion of margins, because it is in many ways a discipline that emerged from the margins (both intellectually and geographically). Struggles around environmental change are also often found at the global margins, centring on peoples excluded or dispossessed by initiatives, projects and interventions initiated by more powerful and dominant actors in the global system. These papers aim to open up the debate on the distinctive contribution of political ecology to understanding struggles over access to and distribution of environmental resources.