Building Power, Deepening Democracy: Global Perspectives on Environmental Justice
The global environmental crisis is intertwined with the crisis of social and economic inequality. From coal plants to palm oil plantations, economic activities that threaten the planet are concentrated in communities with less power and wealth. “You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones,” writes Hop Hopkins, “and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people.”1
To counter the inequality that has made the destruction possible, and to protect nature, we need deep changes in our systems for governing the economy and the environment. But worldwide, the people facing environmental harm have almost no role in either the creation or the functioning of those systems. Environmental advocacy, meanwhile, is often dominated by elites and focused on highly technical channels like litigation.
This special issue will focus on how communities are using law and organizing to reimagine environmental governance from the bottom up. We will explore the concrete strategies communities use to assert or defend their rights to a clean and healthy environment, how to translate struggles against pollution in particular communities into improvements in laws and systems at the local, national, and international level, and how to overcome the grave threats that impede environmental injustice, including corruption and retaliation.
We are especially interested in papers by activists and advocates who can reflect on the struggles they have been a part of as well as the broader context. We aim for the issue to offer voices from many of the diverse contexts in which the movement for environmental justice is alive: from forests and grazing lands to mega-cities and everything in between, and from countries in both hemispheres, representing the entire economic spectrum.
All manuscripts should be submitted online by December 31, 2021. All submissions will be subject to a rigorous peer review. We encourage submissions of original research articles, policy briefs, impact papers, community voice submissions, legal analyses, and commentaries.
Suggested topics include, among others:
- Grassroots environmental justice advocates, including their safety and security and the methods by which they pursue remedies to environmental harm
- Combining law and organizing to achieve deeper reforms
- Opportunities to combine resisting destruction with a platform for positive transformative change, e.g., Green New Deal, just transition, agroecology, etc.
- Leveraging case data or case experience to secure changes in law or regulatory practice
- Transnational accountability for environmental harm by leveraging investors, supply chains, or independent accountability mechanisms
- Democratizing environmental regulation by giving communities greater access to information, more say in decision-making, and/or a role in monitoring and enforcement
- New global norms that are needed to protect the health of people and ecosystems and/or how to turn normative commitments into community-level impact
- Gaps in how indigenous rights and human rights are currently addressed in environmental and climate advocacy and concrete proposals for centering social justice
- Innovative strategies for financing, protection, or movement-building that can foster and sustain transformative grassroots environmental efforts
Queries to the editor to propose a topic prior to submission are encouraged. Please contact Erin Kitchell to initiate your query or for any further details.