Table of Contents

The Search for Environmental Justice

The Search for Environmental Justice

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Paul Martin, Sadeq Z. Bigdeli, Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Willemien du Plessis and Amanda Kennedy

This is an extended and remarkable excursus into the evolving concept of environmental justice. This key book provides an overview of the major developments in the theory and practice of environmental justice and illustrates the direction of the evolution of rights of nature. The work exposes the diverse meanings and practical uses of the concept of environmental justice in different jurisdictions, and their implications for the law, society and the environment.

Chapter 5: Human rights and the environment

Justice Susan Glazebrook

Subjects: environment, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


The protection of the environment should be a priority on both the individual and state level. The M_ori proverb set out above describes a link between people and the environment that is both intrinsic and interdependent. Humans have the power to protect or destroy the environment. Yet it is also the environment that ultimately sustains the earth’s population. The importance of the environment to human well-being, health and ultimately survival is self-evident. We rely on the environment for food, air, water and mineral resources, not to mention for its natural beauty. The first part of this chapter will consider whether there is already a human right to an environment of quality and, if not, whether existing human rights adequately address environmental issues. Following this, it will examine the arguments for and against an environmental human right. In the second part of the chapter I will discuss the special relationship between indigenous peoples and the environment. I will then briefly address the issues relating to environmentally displaced or disadvantaged persons. The chapter concludes by examining the contents of any human right to a quality environment, should it be considered desirable.

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