The Search for Environmental Justice
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The Search for Environmental Justice

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.
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Chapter 10: Consensus federalism and freshwater regulation

Amelia Keene


At what level of governance should environmental regulation most effectively be carried out? This chapter reframes and responds to that federalism question by focusing not only on the level of government, but also on how stakeholders are incorporated into the process. It poses as a case study the current freshwater reforms in New Zealand, which are centralising water quality regulations through consensus-based decision-making at both a national and regional level. It labels this process consensus federalism. These reforms can usefully be compared to the environmental federalism of the 1970s in the United States. Although federalism has been extensively debated, the debate has been preoccupied with constitutional concerns, with little attention paid to the role of consensus-based decision-making. Overall, consensus federalism is a positive development for New Zealand and, based on the United States experience with environmental federalism, can be predicted to lead to improved environmental outcomes. However, some specific criticisms are made of the reforms.

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