Table of Contents

International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment

International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment

Elgar original reference

Edited by Tony Fitzpatrick

Environmental change is central to the global social policy challenges of the twenty-first century. This comprehensive Handbook brings together leading experts from around the world to address the most important questions and issues we face. How should welfare states adapt to environmental change? To what extent are the ecological and social policy agendas compatible? Must we contemplate radical reforms to the principles and organisation of welfare services? Combining cutting-edge theory and data in an interdisciplinary approach, this Handbook both summarises existing developments and suggests how debates and research must develop in the future.

Chapter 11: Using markets to achieve environmental ends: reconciling social equity issues in contemporary water policy in Australia

Karen Hussey

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


The twentieth century was a watershed for the development of environmental policy and law, with the adoption and dissemination of key principles relating to 'precaution', 'polluter-pays', 'inter- and intra-generational equity' and 'sustainable development' (Dovers and Hussey 2013). Indeed the post-Second World War period saw hundreds of multilateral environmental agreements signed, and the introduction or consolidation of domestic legislation relating to water and marine resources, land use, biodiversity conservation, the protection of endangered species, waste and pollution control, as well as legislation pertaining to procedural processes such as environmental impact assessment. There has also been an extensive body of covenants and international agreements signed which formally identify and declare a range of human rights, which both directly and indirectly shape domestic environmental policy and law. Among the rights protected by these covenants are the rights to life, to the enjoyment of a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, to protection from disease and access to adequate food (Gleick 1990: 490). The rights of women and children to access water are also protected under international law. In addition to advancements made in national and international law, perhaps the most remarkable parallel development in recent years has been the rise and dominance of neoliberal economic theory in shaping environmental policy. Distilled to its most basic, this development has seen traditional environmental regulation supplemented by 'the market' as the preferred means for delivering environmental ends.

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