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 12: Safe harbours, closed borders? New Zealand legal and policy responses to climate displacement in the South Pacific

Vernon Rive


Amid recurrent media depictions of ‘sinking islands’ and scenarios of mass relocation of island communities from low-lying atolls, three consistent messages from Pacific peoples can be heard. The first is that for most, their wish and intention is to continue to live in their home countries despite the mounting effects of climate change with dignity, in safety and prosperity. Secondly, Pacific communities have no wish to relieve the international community of its obligations and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering large-scale migration from low-lying islands as ‘the’ solution to climate change within the region. Thirdly, migration should, if it is ultimately necessary, be undertaken in a planned, coordinated way, respecting and reflecting the resilience of people who are no strangers to re-establishing themselves in new environments in response to changing environmental conditions. This is what they have done for centuries. For over 150 years, New Zealand has played a significant role in the South Pacific. Vibrant cultural, political, economic, and sporting interchanges reflect recognition amongst a broad cross-section of New Zealand society that its spiritual as well as geographic home is within the southern waters of the Pacific, rather than cities or fields of Europe. New Zealand hosts significant expatriate populations of Samoan, Tongan, Tuvaluan and others of Pacific origin. The ancestors of its indigenous Maori population traversed the Pacific Ocean to establish their home there.

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