One of the major challenges to the fostering of environmental justice is the sense from some critics that shifts towards more just environmental practices, while noble in principle, are too demanding in practice. Such critics may accept the fact that consumptive habits in the affluent world are causally connected to environmental degradation, yet still believe that efforts to rectify these problems by changes in behaviour at the individual level would fall in the category of the supererogatory rather than obligatory. Their point is not that morally required changes in consumptive habits would be excessive relative to the moral tragedies that are connected to their current economic practices. Instead, they would claim that in the absence of large scale social change, individuals are being asked to dramatically alter their lives without any guarantees that others will do likewise and thus without any guarantees that changes they will make will actually make some sort of non-trivial difference with respect to these problems. Problems of collective action seem to empower the concern that duties of environmental justice involve excessive demands. My central question in this chapter, then, is what may be said in behalf of individual duties to attack these large scale social problems even in circumstances where the absence of wide-spread compliance with individual duties seems to undermine their force and applicability. My central claim is that, given a Kantian moral framework, duties individuals have to refrain from contributing to unjust environmental impacts are buttressed by similar duties individuals have to themselves to resist agency-undermining consumptive habits – duties which are not subjected to collective action problems. Since both sets of duties require roughly the same kinds of responses to consumer choice, I will argue that if the demands made by the duties to the self are not excessive, then the demands made by the duties of environmental justice are not either.
Bradford S. Hadaway
Mohammad Khalil Elahee
A Research Group was initiated in 2008 at the University of Mauritius to undertake studies related to Maurice Ile Durable or MID. The latter refers to the achievement of a model in terms of sustainability for the Republic of Mauritius, an export-dependent and tourism-based insular economy, vulnerable to both climate change and disruption in importation including that of fossil fuel and food. More than 30 academic staff from all Faculties of the University of Mauritius worked in a multi-disciplinary manner to produce preliminary reports addressing the following themes: MID Concept Definition; Institutional Framework; Participative Democracy; Sustainable Energy; Ecotourism; Transport and Land Use; Health and Environment; Sustainable Agriculture; Culture; and Standards, Indicators and Dashboard. A methodology was defined towards turning the MID vision into reality. Without being comprehensive and prescriptive, the findings pointed to the sequence of events in view of ensuring a systemic or holistic approach: a) Calling of a national consultation forum on MID; b) Finalising the shared vision, mission, priorities, strategies and action plan; c) Setting up of the relevant institutional framework within a loi-cadre; d) Continuous monitoring, feedback and communication on the MID progress. Also, the studies emphasised the following urgent needs: Responding to immediate areas of concern with respect to energy, waste, transport, new buildings and cane industry in order to ensure that MID compliance is not overlooked; Responding to the needs of the population, particularly vulnerable groups as a condition for participative democracy; Sustaining MID in its initial stage through education, training, sensitization and communication campaigns; Combating consumerism and debt through the promotion of sustainable living; Introduction of standards, indicators and dashboard for MID as part of the MID action plan.
The extraction of the so-called ‘tar sands’ of Alberta, Canada, to obtain crude oil have not only displaced the indigenous peoples of the province, decimating their constitutionally protected tribal lands, but have also threatened the continued existence of their culture. Environmental damage wrought by the extraction of bitumen, later refined into crude oil, has destroyed the unique habitat of fauna inextricably linked to the way of life of the indigenous communities of the province as a means of sustenance, livelihood, and cultural expression. Similarly, water consumption by such projects has the potential to reduce fish stocks of the province’s waterways below sustainable levels removing another traditional source of sustenance for the indigenous community. Much of the land exploited is made unviable for future recovery and reuse owing to its occupation by vast pools made up of the by-products of the extraction and refining processes. These take great lengths of time to become inert and reusable and have leaked into the natural water basins of the province. Despite attempts at reclamation of the land, current methods have succeeded only in restoring a radically different ecosystem to that which once occupied the land, and is therefore no longer appropriate for the established expressions of culture by indigenous peoples connected to those ecosystems. The piece will contend that irreparable damage to this unique environment, inextricably linked to the equally distinct and irreplaceable culture of the indigenous peoples of the region, constitutes a breach of their human rights to express that culture. Thus, whereas previous attempts to protect the environment through human rights provisions have focused on the rights to life and family, this case presents the potential to form a new basis, in Canada and globally, for environmental protection rooted in alternate established legal provisions at domestic, regional and international levels.
Aleksandar Grujić and Ozren Uzelac
Republic of Serbia is one of the countries which are legal successors of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, created after the turbulent events during the nineties of last century. Republic of Serbia consists of two autonomous provinces (Vojvodina, Kosovo and Metohija), and has a very colourful structure of the population. According to the 2002 census, in the Republic of Serbia (excluding Kosovo) lived 1,135,393 members of national minorities, most of which is stationed on the territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (APV), the administrative centre of which is the city of Novi Sad. Seen in this light, the reasons why the institution of ombudsman has been introduced to the legal system of Serbia, are quite clear. The institution of Ombudsman is constituted at the national level, the level of autonomous provinces and local government level. As a city with the largest population in APV, and as its administrative and political centre, Novi Sad is a very important location for the actions of the local ombudsman. Protection and promotion of minority rights and freedoms is one of the main tasks, which are placed before the local ombudsman.
This chapter analyses the ethical aspects contained within the precautionary principle’s approach towards its goal of risk minimisation/prevention, namely, balancing the views of the expert and non-expert within the environmental decision-making process. It will analyse views that either integrate or discount public opinion within the PP’s decision-making process, and also the ethical issues surrounding the information received by the public in relation to environmental risks. It will be broken into two specific sections: (i) Libertarianism: Policymakers should provide the public with all of the information that is available, in relation to risks they face, and should let them decide for themselves about what actions should be taken. However, the general public might not understand the details of this information, leading to irrational actions being taken that do not represent the probability, impact, or importance of these risks. (ii) Paternalism: Deciding what is best for the public and implementing policies accordingly, or only providing limited information, is the best approach to take towards risk. The public would not understand a lot of the technical jargon used and their views towards risk are often irrational. However, this raises the ethical issue that these types of policies do not represent the public’s interests. Information received about a specific risk(s), or lack thereof, is vital in how risks are perceived. There is the potential for alarmist-type reactions towards risk because of the quality and quantity of media coverage, which has the capacity to distort the reality and likelihood of a risk. This can blind individuals’ capacity to understand accurate levels of probability, and can thus cause governments to act on their population’s misguided views surrounding these risks.
As governments, communities and individuals grapple with how to deal with the avalanche of negative news regarding the environment, children are often left out of the decision-making processes. Traditional Western schooling is still dominated by the ‘banking’ method of teaching, in which knowledge is deposited into the minds of the children under an adult-centric educational paradigm. As a step toward achieving justice for children, educators need to reverse the traditional model of intergenerational influence by furnishing children with the chances, tools and skills to influence those around them, including adults, to live more sustainable lives. This chapter will highlight the plight of children in Western society and the findings of a research project conducted as part of a doctoral thesis, titled, ‘Children as environmental change agents: using a shared protocol to bring about or support environmentally responsible behaviour in the family home.’ Analysed through the lens of a critical researcher, the data reveals a number of key findings; children can indeed be environmental change agents, capable of leading their families, schools and communities toward a more sustainable future; however, the road to justice for children is a complex one, with many societal forces to be contended with along the way.