Environmental Justice believes that everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment with access to enough environmental resources (e.g. land, food, water and air) for a healthy life. The poorest and least powerful people in the world are most likely to be missing these conditions and environmental justice seeks to change that inequality. .
Friends of the Earth UK have been one of the pioneering organisations in formulating ideas around Environmental Justice. They have developed ideas coming originally from US based environmental groups that were concerned about the tendency of polluting industries to be sited near poor urban populations or indigenous peoples' reservations. Over the years the concept has been broadened to tackle issues such as the high level of pollutants found in the fish consumed by Inuit populations and others that live largely on fish. Most recently environmental rights are encompassing the rights of climate change refugees, people who are losing their homes due to rising sea levels or other changes caused or exacerbated by climate change.
It's a global issue, one where the people affected are rarely the people who are causing the problems. It is the industrial countries of the north (and increasingly the rapidly developing countries of Asia) who are burning the fossil fuel that's causing the sea level rises that threaten the very existence of some low lying island states.
Environmental rights are
human rights. People's health and livelihoods depend upon their access to a healthy environment.
In September 2003, the Cartegna Declaration was developed from the International Conference of Environmental Rights
and Human Rights held in Cartagena, Colombia.
This is just a brief introduction to a vast topic. For an in depth look at Environmental Justice from a UK based perspective, you can read Friends of the Earth's detailed briefing.
This post is part of Blog Action Day, which this year is focussed on Human Rights.
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.