Introduction

The environmental justice movement began in earnest in the United States (U.S.) in the 1980s. This movement began as a grassroots effort to address the issue of toxic waste disposal in poor and minority communities. The environmental justice movement shares aspects of both the social justice and environmental movements [1]. Often the term environmental justice is used interchangeably with the terms environmental racism and environmental equity. Although these terms sound alike, each has its own specific meaning. Environmental racism refers to any policy, proactive or directive, intentional or not, that differentially affects the environment of individuals, groups or communities based on their race [1,2]. The term environmental equity holds that all populations should bear a proportionate share of environmental pollution and health risks. Environmental justice is a broader term that encompasses both of these concepts and implies that laws must be applied with fairness and impartiality regardless of socio-economic differences, race, income, or geographic location. Therefore, environmental justice is defined as the achievement of equal protection from environmental and health hazards for all people regardless of race, income, culture, or social class.

Environmental justice refers to the distribution of environmental risks across population groups, as well as the policy responses to these distributions. The four main areas of environmental justice focus upon: (1) the distribution of environmental hazards; (2) the distribution of the effects of environmental problems; (3) the policy making process; and (4) the administration of environmental protection programs. By focusing on these four areas, one can more easily examine and understand the issue of environmental justice, and as a result, develop strategic methods for addressing the issue. At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken the lead in the environmental justice movement by developing formal goals. These goals are:

No segment of the population, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, as a result of EPA's policies, programs, and activities, suffers disproportionately from adverse human health or environmental effects, and all people live in clean, healthy, and sustainable communities. Those who live with environmental decisions—community residents, State, Tribal, and local governments, environmental groups, businesses— must have every opportunity for public participation in the making of those decisions. An informed and involved community is a necessary and integral part of the process to protect the environment [3].

While the majority of the literature on environmental justice focuses on issues in the U.S., recently more attention has been given to environmental justice issues around the world. The focus of this chapter is environmental justice from a global perspective. First, a chronological history of the development of the environmental justice movement will be provided. Next, a review of the recent environmental justice literature will be presented. The chapter will then focus specifically on global environmental justice issues.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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