The municipality of Delta (British Columbia, Canada) is situated on the outskirts of Vancouver (one of the largest cities in Canada). Delta is part of the Fraser River delta which is essential to the functional integrity of the Pacific Flyway (an internationally significant stopover point for migrating birds). One million migrating and wintering waterfowl and five million shorebirds from Asia, Alaska, and Western Canada use the Fraser River delta for feeding and roosting. Delta also has some of the most fertile soil and one of the longest growing seasons in all of Canada. The Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust (DFWT) was founded in 1993 by local farmers and conservationists as a response to ongoing conflict over agricultural and wildlife resources. Government policies appear to have assisted in the formation and initial development of the DFWT, but there seems to be a lack of government policies that support long-term sustainability of such organizations. Ongoing, consistent, and adequate funding is the biggest challenge facing the DFWT today. The cumulative effect of agro-ecosystem loss in communities around the world has the potential to negatively affect the sustainability of both local and global food systems. The story of the DFWT illustrates how competing interests can work together to enhance both agricultural land and wildlife habitat through a combination of enabling government policy, citizen collaboration, and on-the-ground agri-environmental stewardship.
The evolution of environmental law, and in particular the emergence of the concept of sustainable development, has affected the approaches taken to natural resource management and conservation. Principles of sustainable development, including the integration of social, economic and environmental considerations, may be easily identified but appropriate methods to resolve the often conflicting issues remain elusive. The achievement of triple bottom line goals is problematic the world over, but particularly keenly felt in small island states with large Indigenous populations and strong customary laws and traditional practices. Top down legal approaches have been imposed with limited success and it has now been recognised that bottom up, community based, participatory mechanisms are preferable. The Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network is an example of a successful initiative involving communities in the protection of their local marine environment through the implementation of participatory adaptive management techniques. The LMMA Network operates throughout the South Pacific but has been particularly successful in the Fiji Islands where the knowledge, traditional practices and customary laws of its Indigenous population have been utilised to achieve positive social, developmental and environmental outcomes. The experience of the LMMAs may offer best practice guidance to many other countries facing similar challenges.
Vanesa Castán Broto and Claudia Carter
Environmental justice, the right of individuals to be protected from environmental degradation, is a strong moral and political argument. This chapter illustrates how the environmental justice frame has been used in local discourses about environmental pollution, using a case study of coal ash pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Qualitative research was carried out in the communities closest to several coal ash disposal sites in Tuzla, compiling diverse local perspectives on the environment. The interviews revealed that local residents bear an inequitably high amount of environmental burden for the benefit of the national and international energy market. Interviewed individuals related the state of the environment with their right to live. Using the environmental justice frame allows local communities to claim their right to formulate an opinion grounded in their everyday experience. For instance, interviewees highlight the awkwardness and dirtiness that pollution causes around their homes. They present themselves as an isolated group within their society, facing alone the environmental and social costs of the pollution. Local demands include sanitising the disposal sites; installing effective filtering systems in the energy plant’s chimneys and establishing mechanisms to integrate the industry within the communities.
Sofia de Abreu Ferreira
The process of ‘constitutionalisation’ of the Community legal order is taking place through the interpenetration of different systems of human/fundamental/environmental rights protection in Europe (multi-level constitutional space). This has implications for all areas of competence of the EU, with the environmental sector being an especially rich laboratory. The question of linking the protection of the environment with human rights – ‘environmental rights’ – has gained prominence during the last three decades at the national, regional and international levels. The legal solutions put in practice in Europe in order to tackle such a linkage are threefold. A first solution mobilized existing human rights, such as the right to life, to achieve environmental protection. This has been the approach adopted by the European Court of Human Rights. A second possibility passed by the establishment of a substantive fundamental right to environmental protection, belonging to the theoretical category of the so-called ‘solidarity rights’ or ‘third generation rights’. This approach has been followed at the national level in the constitutional law of some of member states of the EU. A last prospect considers the difficulty of establishing an operational, substantive, environmental right and, therefore, focuses instead on procedural/collaborative manifestations of such a right, such as access to information or public participation in environmental matters. Such rights have their legal basis in the Aarhus Convention, which has been recently implemented into EC law, given that the EC along with most of its member states is a party to it. This paper will, first, provide a brief overview of the EU’s ‘multilevel-constitutional space’ and its evolution. Secondly, it will analyse the different legal avenues used in Europe, to shape fundamental environmental rights. Lastly, it will focus on one of such avenues: that of fundamental environmental rights as procedural rights. In particular, it will analyse the regime of the right to environmental information as a proof of a concrete, effective, fundamental environmental right.
The market of genetic modified products is, currently, subject to controversial debates inasmuch technical and economic progress urges the promotion of genetically modified organisms (‘GMOs’), while ecological advances reject a trend in that direction. At a world level, there is a spectacular ‘evolution’ of the GMOs’ market. The areas now cultivated with such plants have grown exponentially and have led to to ever increasing high production yields. This development is in part driven by an ever–growing, world population that has created markets for of new production technologies in order to cover the planet’s food needs. In meeting that demand product manufacture by means of technologies specific to genetic engineering has proven beneficial, given the increasingly limited availability of productive agricultural lands. On the negative side, some specialists believe that the effects of long-term, unnatural, products-based nourishment will have lasting ill-health effects that will be damaging and endanger generations to come. The restrictions imposed on the Romanian agricultural market by the EU regarding the marketing of agricultural and food products obtained by GMOs, now guide domestic producers and direct them towards ecological, production-based, economic, development. Given the availability of the extremely favourable physical and geographical resources, Romania, new to the EU, is poised between economic growth and ecological enhancement.
The key issue for a moral or political evaluation of the development and use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) seems to be that both risks and benefits are highly uncertain. Ethical reasoning, however, has for most part of the time referred to a world in which the morally relevant consequences of an action or decision are both, well determined and knowable; the issue of uncertainty has been merely treated as an orphan. The common approach of how to address issues of uncertainty, both within philosophy and in many real-life decision-making processes, roots in decision theory. The paper argues that the uncertainties raised by genetic engineering go well beyond what decision theory commonly refers to as uncertainties. We suggest supplementing the decision-theoretic approach that roots in utilitarianism or related welfare-based ethics by virtue ethics. In particular we stress the need for a dianoetic virtue, known in Antiquity as phronesis. The developed ethical concept then combines welfare ethics that incorporates elements of decision theory with an Aristotelian virtue ethics. The paper argues that this hybrid concept is better suited for addressing the issues of uncertainty as a mere decision theoretic approach based on a material or consequentialist ethics.
Dennis Pavlich and Spencer Rose
This paper considers generally the obligation of universities to adapt their organizational operations to accommodate significant, emerging, socio-cultural shifts and widely-shared, community expectations. Our review of this phenomenon, in relation to environmental sustainability, is primarily of the university in its corporate, business mode and collaterally as educator and procurer of knowledge. Our research suggests, first, that often those changes are the result of ill-defined or desultory episodes in history, and, secondly, sometimes the result of syncretic adaptations to wider changes in social formation and new orthodoxy caused by revolution – violent and quiet. Thus, over the eons universities, within their basic structure of rector/vice chancellor, provost/proctor, faculties, deans, professors and other officers, have moved governance and operations from Catholic-based, Christian institutions to reformation-based, Christian institutions, and then to secular - ‘non sectarian’ – institutions, influencing successively university epistemology, metaphysics and morality. This chameleon-like character of universities to adapt to social transformations that revolutionize society likely explains the durability and longevity of Western-, European-based universities. Our paper reviews the interpretation of the mission of universities, not so much from the perspective of broad adaptations to revolutionary forces in society, but rather the smaller-scale, externally-driven, social changes of communities outside universities, and to which its response may be incipient to greater, fundamental, social transformation. In particular, the paper looks at the need for social adaptations that incorporate values of the environmental movement. It describes how the value of community (and state) acceptance likely requires universities to be aware and transform to accommodate important social movements which today are the pursuit of sustainability and environmental justice. A case study of the University of British Columbia in Canada and its experiences in operational adjustments over the past 20 years to be friendlier to the environment is used to illustrate the form and manner that adaptability might take.