Thursday, September 13, 2007

Chapter 3: Just Sustainability in Theory

In Chapter 3: "Just Sustainability in Theory" of Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice, Julian Agyeman claims that the JSP (Just Sustainability Paradigm) is a bridge between the NEP (New Environmental Paradigm) and the EJP (Environmental Justice Paradigm). The four main focal areas of concern of the JSP are quality of life, present and future generations, justice and equity, and living within ecosystem limits. Agymen explains the following three points:
If we are to develop more cooperative endeavors and look toward movement fusion, we need to know why the gap exists between the EJP and NEP. This gap must be bridged with frank and open discussion. These two movements had very different beginnings, with the environmental justice movement had community/grassroots beginnings (bottom-up) whereas the sustainability agenda came from expert committees and governments. There has been a history of mistrust between these two movements, and the environmental justice movement is more diverse (in all ways) than the sustainability movement because it arose from popular instead of expert origins.
There is an ongoing green-brown sustainability interpretation battle. This battle is between the richer countries of the North ("green") who are concerned with environmental protection , biodiversity, and protecting the ozone; and the poorer countries of the South ("brown") who are concerned with the alleviation poverty, infrastructural development, health, and education. This is paralleled in the US by the narrow vs. broad focus environmentalism (NEP vs. EJP/JSP). Another paralleled issue is the historical "ecological debt" that the South says is owed by the North.
"If the wider public is to support such progressive policies, there must be an entitlement to a cross-curricular 'education for sustainability' in schools and universities and broadly based, accessible popular education campaign." Purely information-based campaigns (whether run by non-profits or governmental bodies) tend to fail. Behaviors of groups of people need to be changed, which can be accomplished through social marketing. Agyeman cites McKenzie-Mohr and Smith (1999): " the primary advantage of social marketing over other forms of community education is that it starts with people's behavior and works backward to select a particular tactic suited for that behavior."

This chapter of Agyeman's book presents solid, although theoretic ideas. The author supports his statements with examples of successfully implemented programs. However, no examples are presented of implemented/unsuccessful programs or theory. I would have liked to see more criticism instead of pure praise.