Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders

Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices

JoAnn Carmin
Julian Agyeman
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders
    Book Description:

    Multinational corporations often exploit natural resources or locate factories in poor countries far from the demand for the products and profits that result. Developed countries also routinely dump hazardous materials and produce greenhouse gas emissions that have a disproportionate impact on developing countries. This book investigates how these and other globalized practices exact high social and environmental costs as poor, local communities are forced to cope with depleted resources, pollution, health problems, and social and cultural disruption. Case studies drawn from Africa, Asia, the Pacific Rim, and Latin America critically assess how diverse types of global inequalities play out on local terrains. These range from an assessment of the pros and cons of foreign investment in Fiji to an account of the work of transnational activists combating toxic waste disposal in Mozambique. Taken together, the chapters demonstrate the spatial disconnect between global consumption and production on the one hand and local environmental quality and human rights on the other. The result is a rich perspective not only on the ways industries, governments, and consumption patterns may further entrench existing inequalities but also on how emerging networks and movements can foster institutional change and promote social equality and environmental justice.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29568-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction: Environmental Injustice Beyond Borders
    (pp. 1-16)
    Julian Agyeman and JoAnn Carmin

    The deepening of globalization is fundamentally reshaping, and perhaps even redrawing, the environmental justice terrain. Over the past thirty years, many influential texts on environmental justice, especially those from the United States, have revealed heroic struggles. These have taken place from Warren County, North Carolina, to Kettleman City, California, and from Altgeld Gardens, Chicago, to Dudley Street, Boston, as low-income and minority communities have mobilized to fight off unwanted land uses or gain access to appropriate and adequate public goods and services. While inequalities like these and countless others become visible at the local level as communities seek to “speak...

  5. I Consumption and the Rise of Inequalities Beyond Borders
    • 2 Spatial Justice and Climate Change: Multiscale Impacts and Local Development in Durban, South Africa
      (pp. 19-44)
      Isabelle Anguelovski and Debra Roberts

      In recent years, the phrase “think globally, act locally” has become something of an environmental cliché. It nevertheless serves to highlight the fundamental truth that without some level of local action and on-the-ground understanding of impacts, global environmental challenges cannot be dealt with in an equitable and sustainable way. Among all of the prevailing global environmental challenges, climate change is undoubtedly the most significant. It threatens our future development and, in some people’s minds, puts at risk the continued existence of our own species and the global ecosystems on which we depend. Furthermore, addressing the issue of “dangerous climate change”...

    • 3 Learning from the Quest for Environmental Justice in the Niger River Delta
      (pp. 45-66)
      Max Stephenson Jr. and Lisa A. Schweitzer

      The peoples of the Niger River Delta have been engaged in ongoing struggles to secure some measure of genuine development from the continued oil production in their territory (Okonta and Douglas 2001) despite the ecological degradation that accompanies those processes (Moffatt and Linden 1995). Many analysts, who have examined the environmental pollution of the Delta and the role of petroleum exploration and production in that process, have concluded that more just outcomes could be achieved with more transparent and accountable governance in Nigeria itself. However, because this region accounts for a significant percentage of the world’s oil production, a hefty...

    • 4 Foreign Investment and Environmental Justice in an Island Economy: Mining, Bottled Water, and Corporate Social Responsibility in Fiji
      (pp. 67-84)
      Saleem H. Ali and Mary A. Ackley

      Global inequality necessitates some transfer of resources from developed countries to developing economies, and foreign investment in various business sectors is a potentially viable conduit for this purpose. Globalization as manifest through responsible trade and accountable investment is likely to improve development indicators. However, without appropriate structures in place to manage the form and function of such investment, the larger goal of sustainable development for developing economies can be impaired, even if the investments are diversified. Small island economies are largely dependent on external investment as they move away from subsistence livelihoods and become part of the global economic system....

  6. II The Amplification of Inequality through International Donors and Institutions
    • 5 Global Civil Society and the Distribution of Environmental Goods: Funding for Environmental NGOs in Ecuador
      (pp. 87-104)
      Tammy L. Lewis

      How are environmental “goods” distributed across borders? In this chapter, I take a different slant on environmental injustice by examining the allocation of environmental goods, rather than environmental bads. Traditionally, the literature on environmental justice has largely focused on who gets the environmental “bads” of society—toxic waste, hazardous facilities, and poor air quality, to name a few. As movements shift from pointing out environmental injustices to seeking environmental justice and what Agyeman (2005) calls “just sustainability,” we need to ask, who gets the environmental amenities? Parks? Water cleanup? Access to affordable public transportation? Resources for environmental improvements? Which communities...

    • 6 Environmental Justice, Values, and Biological Diversity: The San and the Hoodia Benefit-Sharing Agreement
      (pp. 105-128)
      Saskia Vermeylen and Gordon Walker

      Recent commentaries have identified a number of ways the field of environmental justice scholarship is evolving (Walker and Bulkeley 2006; Sze and London 2008; Holifield, Porter, and Walker 2009). First, as demonstrated in this book, this scholarship is giving attention to the application of the environmental justice frame in new places and contexts around the world (Walker 2009). Second, it is extending its scope to include increasingly diverse forms of socioenvironmental concern, moving far beyond the racial distribution of pollution, toxicity, and technological risk with which the early phases of environmental justice activism were primarily concerned. Third, it has developed...

    • 7 Global Environmental Governance and Pathways for the Achievement of Environmental Justice
      (pp. 129-156)
      Beth Schaefer Caniglia

      The UNFCCC COP15 meeting erupted after its first week in Copenhagen, bringing to a head the clash between the climate justice movement, a range of formally accredited nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and a United Nations agency charged with the facilitation of a binding agreement among sovereign nation-states to curtail climate change. Banners, pamphlets, t-shirts, and buttons were displayed by thousands of participants from around the world. Slogans such as “System Change, Not Climate Change,” “There Is No Planet B,” “Politicians Talk; Leaders ACT,” and “HOPENHAGEN: Earth’s Body Guard” were some of the most prominent messages communicated. Activists were everywhere—inside the...

  7. III Networked Responses to Global Inequality
    • 8 Governing and Contesting China’s Oil Operations in the Global South
      (pp. 159-184)
      Patricia Widener

      Research indicates that each step of the oil supply chain has the potential to threaten the health of communities and ecosystems,¹ while oil extraction and the related elements of the supply chain often fail to promote local employment, technology transfers, and local economic linkages (Arakan Oil Watch 2008; Caldwell 1986; Karl 1997; Renner 2002). Unless coupled with a state and industry commitment to the environment and to participatory spaces for affected communities, oil extraction has proven to be detrimental to neighboring communities and ecosystems. To be sure, oil-related injustices are twofold. On the one hand, they have been perpetuated nationally...

    • 9 Resisting Environmental Injustice through Sustainable Agriculture: Examples from Latin America and Their Implications for U.S. Food Politics
      (pp. 185-212)
      Alison Hope Alkon

      Food is at the heart of projects, policies, and movements resisting environmental injustice across the global South. Such activism often aims to resist the globalization of industrial models of agriculture. More specifically, activists argue that the technological advances of the Green Revolution established a capital-intensive agricultural system. To procure these technologies, governments across the global South borrowed heavily from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, these institutions’ lending policies demanded the privatization of many services, preventing national governments from making such advances available to small farmers or to those who do not have secure rights to the...

    • 10 Going Beyond the State to Strengthen the Rule of Law: Local Activists, Transnational Networks, and Gold Mining in Bulgaria
      (pp. 213-246)
      Barbara Hicks

      We have become used to seeing large international corporations investing in resource extraction in developing countries, and we often see transnational environmental justice issues as efforts of local communities in these cases to prevent the investments or control the effects of production on their natural and social environments and economy. These sorts of investments also started appearing in the postcommunist transition countries in the 1990s. Coming at a time of major economic and political transformation, the projects have taken advantage of and become entangled in transition politics. This chapter seeks to understand what factors influence whether local residents are able...

    • 11 Politics by Other Greens: The Importance of Transnational Environmental Justice Movement Networks
      (pp. 247-266)
      David Naguib Pellow

      The race, class, gender, and national inequalities and ecological violence that are at the core of global capitalism underscore a point that many participants in environmental movements often overlook: social inequalities are the primary driving forces behind ecological crises. That is, we should no longer view race, class, and other inequalities as the most important variables in a general model that might explain environmental injustice. Rather they are also the most important factors for theorizing the overall predicament of ecological unsustainability. Social inequalities are, therefore, not just an afterthought of an environmentally precarious society; they are at its root.


  8. IV Conclusion
    • 12 Reflections on Environmental Inequality Beyond Borders
      (pp. 269-274)
      JoAnn Carmin and Julian Agyeman

      The chapters in this book draw on diverse international case studies to illustrate how a globalized world is fundamentally altering the environmental justice terrain. Traditional studies of environmental justice examined the ways inequalities are generated and resolved within domestic contexts, paying particular attention to the distributional aspects of injustice and the need for recognition and participation (Schlosberg 2007; Schrader-Frechette 2002; Young 1990). More recently, scholars have drawn on theories of multiple spatialities of environmental justice and of multilevel governance and institutions (e.g., Walker 2010; Holifield, Porter, and Walker 2010; Pellow 2000; Sze and London 2008; Walker and Bulkeley 2006) to...

  9. About the Contributors
    (pp. 275-276)
  10. Index
    (pp. 277-304)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-306)