Environmental Justice

This field/movement aims to reduce environmental exploitation (and thus negatively affecting plant and animal life, land degradation, water quality, etc) by large corporations and the government. The crux behind the movement (other than environmental ethics and concerns) is that disadvantaged populations (globally, too) are forced to bear the effects at significantly higher rates. These communities end up with more severe health outcomes from toxicant exposure, lack of clean water, etc.
Environmental justice activists work from and within these affected communities often to raise awareness of the issue, garner support, and work to create policies and action to reduce environmental injustices.
Environmental justice movements have stemmed from community organization. As a movement, environmental justice did not get attention (and actually did not occur) without affected groups of individuals rallying together to make it know the environmental injustices occurring. It is the vulnerable groups, when given the tools and support and movement from within, who can launch an issue into public domain and fight for their goal.
Individuals interested in community development and community organization who may be looking for jobs might find it ideal to look at the field of environmental justice. Frankly, there are so many environmental injustices out there in our country (and world), and people and communities are severely affected by them.
Environmental justice is a part of social justice.
"Cultural diversity thus becomes essential for biological diversity; and histories based on local economic development offer alternatives for the future that reflect values other than consumer lifestyles;a harmonious co-existance between social justice and environmental justice" (Ledwith 149)
Sustainable development now and in the future is going to NEED to employ issues of environmental (in)justice in its planning and execution, or society will continually be blocked from ethical just progress.


  1. Apply: Grass root organizations like the Greening of Detroit emerged because individuals felt that the beauty of Detroit was diminishing. Today, we see that there is more a focus on using vacant lots to create community gardens. When there are community gardens planted there is fresh produce which can help individuals and families stay healthy. With the economy worsening there has become a heightened awareness of how important it is to educate people about how the environment is very fragile and we need to take care of it.

    There needs to programs and classes that students can take so they can understand why they must take a role in taking care of the environment. Children should be exposed to educational service work projects so they can first hand what the environment is and how they can take a part in helping it live a healthy life. Unless development leads to greater equality, environmentally sound outcomes, and improved opportunities for human growth it cannot meet the goals of sustainable development. (Ledwith 149)-(Gamble and Weil, 1997, p.220)

  2. Apply: The environmental justice movement has garnered a lot of attention in last couple of years (global warming/climate change) and has become somewhat of a divisive issue politically. It seems that in a lot of areas, it has lost its grassroots persona and become something touted by people in power. In order for real changes to take place in communities, the pressure needs to be coming from the bottom up rather than the top down.

    Adapt: Government programs and requirements may change people’s behavior but they are not likely to change people’s ideologies. Environmental justice needs to go back to the grassroots organizing it started from and spread its needs and desires that way in order to affect any real change.

  3. Yes, the issue of environmental justice and community development are interwoven. you cannot develop a community effectively without environmental justice, peoples participation, empowerment and social capital. The issue of top-bottom and bottom top in community development is becoming more sensitive and I have advocated a mixed approach to that as the world is becoming diverse and the level of growth, awareness and development varies from locality to locality.I refer you to an article published at Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 7, No. 4, pages 266 - 273. Evaluating Top- Bottom & Bottom -up in CD, Mixed method a better approach. Thank you