Handbook of Sustainable Development
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Handbook of Sustainable Development

Second Edition

Edited by Giles Atkinson, Simon Dietz, Eric Neumayer and Matthew Agarwala

This timely and important Handbook takes stock of progress made in our understanding of what sustainable development actually is and how it can be measured and achieved.
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Chapter 12: Environmental justice and sustainability

Julian Agyeman


In writing a chapter such as this, in which two essentially different political projects, paradigms and movements are to be compared and examined for their potential for rapprochement, I am reminded of three incidents, one in 2002, one in 2005 and one in 2012, which showed me that although I, and increasing numbers of others, see the (need for greater) linkages between environmental justice and sustainability, conceptually, movement-wise and public policy- and planning-wise, many people do not. Before being accepted for publication by New York University Press as ‘Sustainable communities and the challenge of environmental justice’, from which much of this chapter is drawn, I sent my book proposal to the MIT Press. In 2002, two reviewers, both very well published senior academics in environmental and sustainability policy in the US, looked at my manuscript and told me in no uncertain terms ‘instructors will probably want to adopt books that cover either solely environmental justice or sustainable development, and not both’. The short-sightedness and weaknesses of this ‘silo’ based approach to public policy and planning were cruelly and starkly exposed in August 2005, as Hurricane Katrina came ashore in the Gulf states and in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the far more densely populated New York City metro area.

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