Justice and a Sustainable EconomyIntroductionAlternatives for Community & Environment Inc. , define sustainability as essentially a matter of equity and justice (7). Economic sustainability and justice give simultaneous results; one simply cannot happen without the other. This intersection of sustainability and social justice is referred to as environmental justice. The policy decisions made in this present day will determine who will have opportunities for many generations to come. The United States is waiting for action on a comprehensive climate change bill, as its troubled economy seeks impetus from the billions of dollars injected into it from the Stimulus.
President Obama has put emphasis on the need of making the correct choices for generations to come (Alternatives for Community & Environment 6). Globally, there are many promising plans that bring to focus the need to adjust humanity towards more just and sustainable futures. The target for these plans is the attainment of environmental justice. Environmental justice is a US initiated concept that activists in the global South refer to as the ‘brown’ antipollution, antipoverty agenda. The brown agenda is mainly concerned with promotion of affordable housing, clean drinking water, and infrastructure planning (Agyeman & Ogneva-Himmelberger 3).
At the other end of the spectrum is what is referred to as sustainable development. This is referred to as the ‘green’ agenda and because it predominantly environmental (Dobson 83). The green agenda’s highlights are the preservation of biodiversity and reduction in waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Other ‘midway’ agenda that arise when one seeks to understand justice and sustainable economies are the ‘human security’ agenda and the ‘just sustainability’ agenda. The human security agenda addresses the three pillars of human, state and environmental security and seeks ways for enabling sustainable development through their integration.
On the other hand, the key concerns of just sustainability are quality of life, justice and equity, living within ecosystem limits, and present and future generations (Agyeman & Ogneva-Himmelberger 4). At its conception, environmental justice emerged as an opposition to unjust and polluting practices by industry. However, at present, many communities that have bought into the idea have moved beyond simply opposing to being proactive and proposing better ways of conducting business (Alternatives for Community & Environment 3).
These modern day solution based approaches are aimed at mitigating environmental degradation, building community political power and enhancing the overall quality of life. It is therefore fairly common to witness communities involved in exploring alternative energy solutions and participating in urban design discussions with both public and private sectors partners. We cannot talk about true sustainability without the participation of its resident community. Moreover, the participation most sought under the true sustainability concept is for those who have been marginalized throughout history through inequitable economic and environmental practices.
Participative decision making is important when we talk about sustainability. This is critical to ensure effective long term solutions are captured in the decisions made. So far, government policies have been benefiting a privileged few which goes against supporting real sustainability. True sustainability needs to ensure that new public investment builds long term community leadership and infrastructures. In addition to that, this concept seeks to develop community-driven models that will build wealth, open up opportunities, and pile up assets within local communities (Alternatives for Community & Environment 3).