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Just Sustainability in Theory Having given a background to the discourses of environmental justice and sustainability, sustainable development and sustainable communities, to narrow-focus and broad-focus civic environmentalism and some linkages between them, it is my intent in this chapter to more fully map the nexus between the discourses of environmental justice and sustainability.1 In other words, I now want to characterize the JSP as a bridge between the NEP and the EJP, noting its similarities to and differences from each. I show its global and local relevance and its four main focal areas of concern: quality of life, present and future generations, justice and equity, and living within ecosystem limits. My caveat, mentioned in the introduction, is that my characterization largely surrounds two major players in the JSP: the environmental justice movement and organizations using the just sustainability discourse . Other than passing references to other inhabitants, such as peace, indigenous, spiritual, women’s, civil rights, labor, and antiracist groups, I do not intend to fully explore their roles here. Mind the Gap: Some Reasons for the NEP-EJP Divide Before I characterize the JSP, I want to briefly investigate the reasons for the gap between the NEP and the EJP in terms of demographics, discourses , and movement-building practices, because if we are to occupy the free space, develop more cooperative endeavors, and ultimately look toward movement fusion, then we need to know why the gap existed in the first place. First and foremost, as I mentioned in the introduction, the two movements came from very different places, resulting in different approaches, tactical repertoires, and languages/vocabularies. The environmental justice movement can be understood as a popular, community, grassroots, or 3 79 bottom-up reaction to external threats, while the sustainability agenda, then movement, emerged in large part from expert international processes and committees, governmental structures, think tanks, and international NGO networks. In this sense, sustainability as a policy approach can be understood as a more exclusive or top-down phenomenon. Paradoxically , however, as we saw in the previous chapter, the majority of current sustainability action is generally seen as being through local action involving multistakeholder partnerships (ICLEI 2002a). Second, as in the relationship between labor and mainstream environmentalism (Gould et al. 2004), there has been a history of mistrust between the environmental justice movement and the sustainability movement ’s precursor, the environmental movement. I will not revisit the blow-by-blow account here, as other authors have done so more completely than space allows (Shabecoff 1990; D. Taylor 1992, 2000; Gottlieb 1993; Bullard 1993, 1994). Suffice it to say that there were two key complaints or demands that EJ activists made, according to Schlosberg (1999:9): while the lack of minority representation in the offices and on the boards of major environmental groups was a focus, a more telling complaint centered on the movement’s focus on natural resources, wilderness , endangered species and the like, rather than toxics, public health and the unjust distribution of environmental risk. Related to this is the fact that Big 10 organizations tend to be very hierarchical , centralized, Washington based, and therefore distant from community concerns. Third, and again as in the relationship between labor and mainstream environmentalism (Gould et al. 2004), the issues of class, social location, and demography cannot be ignored. There are many studies in the United States (Devall 1970; Milbrath 1984; ECO 1992; Lichterman 1995) and in the United Kingdom (Cotgrove and Duff 1980; Lowe and Goyder 1983; Gaines and Micklewright 1988; Agyeman 1990) that show that traditional environmentalists, and the organizations that hire them, are predominantly middle and upper-middle class, male, and white. Environmentalists not working in the EJ movement tend to have a college or postgraduate degree, work in a professional job, and own a home. Contrast this with Taylor’s study of 331 EJ organizations, which showed that 80 | Just Sustainability in Theory the leadership . . . is shared almost equally between males and females. Fifty percent. . . . have female presidents or chairs. . . . Twenty-three percent describe themselves as having a predominantly African American membership, 11% are predominantly Latino, 1% are predominantly Asian, 27% are predominantly Native American, another 27% are composed of a mixture of people of color groups, and 12% are a mixture of people of color and whites. (Taylor 2000:533) The EJ movement, it could be argued, because of its popular as opposed to expert origins, is far more diverse in all ways than is the sustainability movement. Fourth, there is reluctance...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814707746
Related ISBN
9780814707111
MARC Record
OCLC
228230749
Pages
256
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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