4 Considering Environmental Justice, Equity, and Cities Review.docx

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Ryerson University
Environment and Urban Sustainability
EUS 202
Christopher Greene

COMPONENT 04 CONSIDERING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, EQUITY & CITIES What is Environmental Justice?  A question of equity  Decision‐making is often influenced by power relationships  PROBLEM = Rights or needs of the affluent take priority over rights poor + minorities  Particularly true with decisions that have potential environmental consequences Ex. toxic waste sites, air pollution, lead poisoning, pesticide exposure ‘the right of every citizen to adequate protection from environmental hazards’ Everyone should have the right to: ¤ Clean + healthy environment (home + work) ¤ Equal protection from environmental impact ¤ Equal compensation for exposure to impact ¤ Equal access to high quality environmental resources Manifestation of Environmental Injustice DENIAL OF A RESOURCE Common in cases with either:  Significant poverty  Scarce land of high quality Ex. In some developing nations rich landowners have control of prime agricultural land UNBALANCED RISK OR EXPOSURE TO POLLUTION Commonly (but not limited to) in developing nations -- More rely directly on environment for survival -- More likely to suffer effects of environmental impacts both -- Experience both in higher incidences (number) as well as severity of impact Canadian example demonstrates that culture can also exasperate the effects The poor are often exposed to localized environmental hazards ¤ Includes issues with drinking water, insufficient sanitation, indoor air quality Mega‐cities, moderate level average income ¤ Tend to experience less localized hazards ¤ More city‐scale or regional hazards ¤ Additional regional pollution (air and / or water) Another way to phrase this statement (McGranahan et al., 1999): ¤ POOR – tend to cause environmental impacts that are a danger to themselves or immediate neighbours ¤ AFFLUENT – distribute their environmental burden to wider public ¤ Local dangers particularly high for women, children in poor households COMPONENT 04 MEGA-CITY  10+ million residents; first was New York (approx. 1940)  Significance of megacities (developing nations) ¤ Many unwilling to document or collect data re: consumption, waste disposal, slum creation ¤ Increases difficulty in understanding how big the problem is (scope) ¤ Without scope, difficult to develop measures to address overall problem By 2005 there were 20 mega‐cities worldwide ¤ Tokyo (35.2 million) ¤ Mexico City (19.4 million) ¤ New York‐Newark (18.7 million) ¤ Mumbai (18.2 million) ¤ Delhi (15.0 million) ¤ Shanghai (14.5 million) Transitions (Affluence & Scale)  As affluence begins to INCREASE ¤ Immediate environmental impacts tend to be addressed first ¤ Increase in wealth correlates with higher consumption + waste ¤ However, some resources are devoted to actions that offer more protection for residents from harmful local impacts  Tendency for government institutions to address these local problems more quickly: ¤ Immediate – local impacts + hazards are easy to identify + understand ¤ Logical, understandable solutions – infrastructure often the answer ¤ i.e. money is spent on building something that solves the problem  Obvious benefit, immediate improvement for living conditions  Drawback, environmental impact is not removed, merely shifted  Example of improving sanitation infrastructure ¤ Removal of sewage improves conditions for numerous residents ¤ But, if untreated will negatively impact a city‐wide (or regional waterway) If environmental protection is not on political agenda  Ambient environmental quality can be degraded  Addressing city‐wide or regional impacts can follow similar trajectory As affluence of cities continues to GROW: ¤ Can better finance or bear cost of controlling pollutants -- Ex. creating + maintaining administrative / regulatory frameworks ¤ Economies may shift away from industry – tend to be tied more closely to services + commercial sector ¤ Problem may be addressed by shifting impacts further out of city ¤ Scale of impact tends to increase (more national / international / global scales) COMPONENT 04  With shift of environmental problems (from Household  City  Global)  Comes a shift in issues (from individual Health  Regional Ecology  Sustainability)  Generally discuss this transition pertaining to entire cities  But, important to recognize there are differences WITHIN cities  There are poor + affluent people in every city, however, level of disparity varies ¤ People living in poor neighbourhoods see more local environmental problems ¤ They also tend to share a larger portion of the broader impacts as well Within a City Low income settlements / neighbourhoods are more likely to be near: ¤ Polluting industries ¤ Waste dump sites ¤ Polluted streams and rivers ¤ Transportation infrastructure Poorer areas of rapidly industrializing cities frequently face worst combination ¤ Immediate environmental risks normally faced by the poor ¤ More general, regional risks from industrialization ¤ Two may interact with unexpected consequences (i.e. emergent properties, synergy, multiplicative vs. additive) Do the Affluent Set the Environmental Agenda?  Is the focus on sustainability issues at the international level because those issues are of concern for the affluent?  Was the agenda focused on local issues when they were more of a concern for the affluent?  McGranahan et al. argue this situation may be the case EXAMPLE: The Sanitary Movement Equivalent of ‘environmental movement’ of 19th Century ¤ Mortality rates in European cities were much higher than rural surroundings ¤ Many believed that poor / inadequate sanitation was responsible for difference b/w regions CHOLERA  Wealthy had water provided by private companies  The poor relied on public taps, wells, and local rivers ¤ Susceptible to water‐borne disease ¤ Lack of knowledge in disease transmission ¤ Conventional thought was that disease came through breathing in ‘noxious vapours’  In 1849 John Snow proposed a new theory: ¤ Cholera not transmitted not through noxious vapours ¤ More likely transmitted through contaminated food or water COMPONENT 04  Snow’s theory unproven until a cholera outbreak in London in 1854  Traced source of disease to a water intake pump th Early Case Study: CHOLERA (19 century)  The one pump was providing water to an area in which 500 people had died over 10 days  Snow’s findings fundamentally changed thinking about disease in urban areas  Led to more widespread adoption of publicly funded water systems  Significantly contributed to progress in sanitary movement The Sanitary Movement  Issue became both a scientific + political focus ¤ Research efforts focused on linking water, sanitary conditions, health ¤ Political debate took place about role of government in providing sanitation ¤ Though affecting the poor most, the affluent were also impacted ¤ Additional concern about health of standing militias  In the end, those with political power concluded public risk was too great  Has the problem of poor sanitation been solved? ¤ There IS an overall improvement in average sanitation levels ¤ But the poor in many cities still have inadequate access ¤ Predictions that by 2015 there will be 2.7 billion people w/o access to basic sanitation (WHO)  One complication in measuring impact + progress: ¤ Employing averages as a metric ¤ If a few, very affluent in a city have very high quality access to services ¤ It can obscure overall disparity in a city  Local environmental impacts still a substantial (+ avoidable) source of ill health  International environmental agenda has moved to other, global issues(e.g. climate change) Weak Relationships or Absolute Truths  Not all low‐income neighbourhoods are exposed to unsanitary conditions, inadequate drinking water, high indoor air pollution  Middle‐income cities not all predestined to have heavily polluted air + waterways  High level of affluence does not have to lead to global environmental problems  Relationship b/w human activity + environment is complex  Recognition of this complexity suggests this relationship cannot be completely generalized COMPONENT 04 PRINCIPLES OF EQUITY Five Categories of Equity  Equity » Fairness » Justice  Houghton discusses equity; links concept to sustainable urban development  Identifies five broad categories  each distinct but some features are interconnected 1. INTER-GENERATIONAL EQUITY  Most well recognized from of equity  Draws from definition of sustainability from the Brundtland Report “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”  Equity between people of different generations (p
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