Reading just sustainabilities

2013 marks ten years since the publication of Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World, edited by myself, Bob Bullard and Bob Evans. In the book we broke new ground by embarking on a sustainability and sustainable development-based discourse, but one that focused explicitly on equity and justice – on the inextricable links between environmental quality and human equality.

We opened the book as follows: “In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the issue of environmental quality is inextricably linked to that of human equality.  Wherever in the world environmental despoilation and degradation is happening, it is almost always linked to questions of social justice, equity, rights and people’s quality of life in its widest sense.”

In my September 2012 blog post Just Sustainabilities I outlined the basis of the concept and gave a taste of my forthcoming book Introducing Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice (Zed Books).

In this posting I want to add an emerging reading list for just sustainabilities. Each of my previous blog posts also contain substantial readings but in this list, compiled in part by Lemir Teron a Ph.D. student in Energy and Environmental Policy with a focus on environmental justice and sustainable development at the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy, University of Delaware, we’ve tried to add others. Lemir has grouped the readings under the four essential conditions for just sustainabilities: (i) Improving quality of life; (ii) Intra-/intergenerational equity; (iii) Recognition, process, procedure & outcome and (iv) Living within ecosystem limits.

Several caveats apply here! First, many readings fit multiple categories/conditions; second, several readings do not explicitly mention the phrase ‘just sustainabilities’ but touch on related theoretical and/or practical issues and finally, the list is not complete: please add to it by sending me a comment or an email.

(Developing) Just Sustainabilities Reading List

I. Improving Quality of Life

  • Dorling, Daniel; Injustice: Why social inequality still persists (2010) Policy Press
  • Stanley, Anna; Just space or spatial justice? Difference, discourse and environmental justice. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice & Sustainability (2009) Vol 14 issue 10 pp 999-1014
  • Boyle, David & Harris, Michael; The Challenge of Co-Production: How equal partnerships between professionals and the public are crucial to improving public services. New Economics Foundation.  2009
  • Sen, Amartya. Inequality re-examined. (1992) Harvard University Press
  • Sen, A.K. Capabilities, Lists and Public Reason: Continuing the Conversation. 2004 Feminist Economics vol. 10, issue 3, pages 77-80
  • Marans, Robert. Understanding Environmental Quality Through Quality of Life Studies: the 2001 DAS and its use of subjective and objective indicators. Landscape and Urban Planning. (2003) vol 65 pp73–83
  • Byrne, John & Glover, Leigh. A Common Future or Towards a Future Commons: Globalization and Sustainable Development since UNCED. International Review for Environmental Strategies. 2002. vol 3 pp 5-25.
  • Buhrs, T. (2004) ‘Sharing Environmental Space: The Role of Law, Economics and Politics’. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management Vol. 47 No. 3 pp. 429-447.
  • Fotel, T. (2006) ‘Space, power, and mobility: car traffic as a controversial issue in neighbourhood regeneration’. Environment and Planning A. Vol. 38 pp. 733-748.
  • Baer, P., Kartha, S., Athanasiou, T. and Kemp-Benedict, E. (2009), The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework: Drawing Attention to Inequality within Nations in the Global Climate Policy Debate. Development and Change, 40: 1121–1138. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2009.01614.x
  • Caney, Simon. “Climate Change, Human Rights, and Moral Thresholds.” Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. Ed. Stephen M. Gardiner. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 162-177. Print.
  • Nickel, James W., and Eduardo Viola. “Integrating Environmentalism and Human Rights.” Environmental Ethics. Ed. Andrew Light and Ed. Holmes Rolston III. 1st ed. Malden, MA:
  • Gaffron, Philine. “Urban Transport, Environmental Justice and Human Daily Activity Patterns.”  Transport Policy, 2012: 114-127.
  • Max-Neef, M. A. (1992) ‘Development and human needs’. In: Ekins, P., and Max-Neef, M. A. (eds) Real-Life Economics: Understanding wealth creation. London: Routledge, pp. 197–213.
  • Veenhoven, R. (1996) ‘Happy life-expectancy: a comprehensive measure of quality-of-life in nations’. Social Indicators Research 39(1): 1–58.
  • Wilkinson, R., Pickett, K., and De Vogli, R. (2010) ‘Equality, sustainability, and quality of life’. British Medical Journal 341: 1138–40.
  • Wood, P., and Landry, C. (2007) The inter-cultural city: Planning for diversity advantage. London: Earthscan.

II. Intra-/intergenerational Equity

  • Becker, Robert. Intergenerational equity: The Capital-environment trade-off. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. 1982 vol. 9, issue 2, pages 165-185.
  • Adger, N. (2002) Inequality, Environment and Planning. Environment and Planning A Vol. 34 No.10 pp. 1716-1719.
  • Roberts, P. (2003) ‘Sustainable development and social justice: spatial priorities and mechanisms for delivery’. Sociological Inquiry 73(2): 228–44.
  • Jacobs, M. (1999) Sustainable Development: A Contested Concept. In A Dobson (ed.) Fairness and Futurity. Essays on Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
  • Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Padilla, Emilio. Intergenerational Equity & Sustainability.  Ecological Economics. 2002. 41 (1):69- 83.
  • Barry, Brian. “Sustainability and Intergenerational Justice.” Environmental Ethics. Ed. Andrew Light and Ed. Holmes Rolston III. 1st ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2003. 487-499. Print.
  • Adeola, F O. (2000) ‘Cross-National Environmental Justice and Human Rights Issues – A Review of Evidence in the Developing World’. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol.43 (4), pp 686-706.
  • Schlosberg, D. (2004) ‘Reconceiving Environmental Justice: Global Movements And Political Theories’. Environmental Politics Vol.13 No.3 pp.517 – 540
  • Schlosberg, D. and D. Carruthers (2010) ‘Indigenous Struggles, Environmental Justice, and Community Capabilities’. Global Environmental Politics Vol. 10 No. 4 pp. 12-35.
  • Day, K. (2006) ‘Active Living and Social Justice: Planning for Physical Activity in Low-Income, Black, and Latino Communities’.  Journal of the American Planning Association Vol.72 No.1 pp. 88-99.
  • Wilkinson R., and K. Pickett (2009) The Spirit Level: Why equality is better for everyone. Allen Lane, London.
  • Carley, M and Spapens, P. (1998). Sharing the World: Sustainable Living and Global Equity in the 21st Century. New York. St. Martin’s Press.
  • McLaren, DP, S Bullock and N Yousuf, 1998. Tomorrow’s World: Britain’s share in a sustainable future. London, Earthscan.
  • Goldman, B (1993) Not just prosperity. Achieving sustainability with environmental justice. National Wildlife Federation, Washington DC
  • Boardman, B. (2009) Fixing Fuel Poverty: Challenges and solutions. Abingdon: Earthscan.
  • Boyce, JK, Klemer, AR, Templet, PH and Willis, CE (1999) ‘Power distribution, the environment, and public health: a state level analysis’. Ecological Economics 29 pp127-140
  • Boardman, B, Bullock, S and McLaren, D (1999) Equity and the Environment. Guidelines for Socially Just Government. Catalyst/Friends of the Earth, London
  • Jackson, T. (2009) Prosperity Without Growth? The transition to a sustainable economy. London: Sustainable Development Commission.
  • Jackson, T., Marks, N., Ralls, J., and Stymne, S. (1997) An Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare for the UK 1950-1996. Guildford: Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey.
  • Torras, M and Boyce, J.K (1998) ‘Income, inequality and pollution: a reassessment of the environmental Kuznets curve’. Ecological Economics  vol 25 pp 147-160

III. Recognition, Process, Procedure & Outcome

  • Walker, Gordon. Beyond Distribution and Proximity: Exploring the Multiple Spatialities of Environmental Justice.  Antipode. 2009 vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 614 -636
  • Barnett, C & Low, M (eds).  Spaces of Democracy: Geographical Perspectives on Citizenship, Participation and Representation. 2004. Sage.
  • Brownlow, A. An Archaeology of Fear and Environmental Change in Philadelphia.  Geoforum. 2006. vol 37 pp227-245
  • Narain, Sunita. “A ‘just’ climate agreement: the framework for an effective global deal.” Global Sustainability: A Nobel Cause. Ed. Hans Joachim Schellinhuber, Ed. Mario Molina, Ed. Nicholas Stern, Ed. Veronika Huber and Ed. Susanne Kadner. 1st ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 107-121. Print.
  • Byrne, John, Glover Leigh & Martinez, Cecilia.  The Production of Unequal Nature. Environmental Justice: Discourses in International Political Economy. P. 261-291. 2002.
  • Achterberg, Wouter. “Environmental Justice and Global Democracy.” Governing for the Environment. Ed. Brendan Gleeson and Ed. Nicholas Low. 1st ed. New York: Palgrave, 2001. 183-195. Print.
  • Caniglia, Beth Schaefer. “Global Environmental Governance and Pathways for the Achievement of Environmental Justice.” Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders. Ed. JoAnn Carmin and Ed. Julian Agyeman. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2011. 129-155. Print.
  • Agyeman, J, Bullard, R, Evans, B (eds) Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World. MIT Press, 2003
  • Schor, J. (2005) ‘Sustainable Consumption and Worktime Reduction’. Journal of Industrial Ecology Vol. 9 No.1–2 pp. 37-50.
  • Friends of the Earth(2011) ‘Is a just transition possible within safe global carbon limits?’ Draft paper for Joseph Rowntree Foundation. UK.
  • Sandercock, Leonie. 2000. When Strangers Become Neighbours: Managing Cities of Difference.Journal of Planning Theory and Practice 1 (1): 13–20.
  • Sandercock, Leonie. 2003. Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities of the 21st Century. Continuum.
  • Warner, K. (2002) ‘Linking local sustainability initiatives with environmental justice’. Local Environment 7(1): 35–47.
  • Pearsall, H., and Pierce, J. (2010) ‘Urban sustainability and environmental justice: evaluating the linkages in public planning/policy discourse’. Local Environment 15(6):  569–80.
  • Sachs, A. (1995) Eco-Justice: Linking human rights and the environment. Worldwatch Paper 127. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute.
  • Young, I. (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

IV. Living within ecosystem limits

  • Abdallah, S., Thompson, S., Michaelson, J., Marks, N., and Steuer, N. (2009) The Unhappy Planet Index 2.0: Why good lives don’t have to cost the earth. London: New Economic Foundation.
  • Smith, Kevin.  The carbon neutral myth: Offset indulgences for your climate sins. 2007. Transnational Institute.
  • Rockström, J.,  Steffen,W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, F.S., Lambin, E., Lenton, T.M., Scheffer,M., Folke, C., Schellnhuber,H., Nykvist,B., De Wit, C.A., Hughes, T., van der Leeuw, S., Rodhe, H., Sörlin, S., Snyder, P.K., Costanza, R., Svedin, U.,  Falkenmark, M., Karlberg, L., Corell, R.W., Fabry, V.J., Hansen, J. Walker, B.,  Liverman, D., Richardson, K., Crutzen, P., and J. Foley (2009) ‘Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity’. Ecology and Society Vol. 14 No. 2 p. 32.
  • McLaren, D. (2003) Environmental Space, Equity and the Ecological Debt. In Julian Agyeman, Robert  Bullard, and Bob Evans, Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World. London: Earthscan/MIT Press.
  • Lohmann, L. Carbon trading, Climate Justice and the Production of Ignorance:  Ten Examples. Society for International Development. 2008. Cornerhouse. UK.
  • Levin, Simon. “Learning to Live in a Global Commons: Socioeconomic Challenges for a Sustainable Environment.” Ecological Research. 21.3 (2006): 328-333. Print.
  • John Byrne, Leigh Glover and Hugo F. Alroe. "Globalization and sustainable development: a political ecology strategy to realize ecological justice." 2006. In Niels Halberg et al (eds.), Global Development of Organic Agriculture: Challenges and Prospects. Oxfordshire, UK : CABI Publishing. Pp. 49-74.
  • Baer, P., Athanasiou, T.,  Kartha, S.  and E. Kemp-Benedict (2008) The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework. The right to development in a climate constrained world. Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin.
  • Agyeman, J., Bulkeley, H., and A. Nochur (2007) ‘Just climate: towards a reconstruction of climate activism?’, in Ignition: What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement Eds.  Isham,J. and S. Waage. Island Press,Washington, DC. pp. 135-144.
  • Kennedy, C. A. (2002). ‘A comparison of the sustainability of public and private transportation systems: Study of the Greater Toronto Area’. Transportation. Vol. 29 No.4 pp. 459-493
  • Daly, Herman.  1990.  “Sustainable Growth:  An Impossibility Theorem.”  Development.  Vol. 3, no. 4.  Pp. 45-47.
  • Raworth, K (2012) A Safe and Just Operating Space for Humanity: Can We Live Within the Doughnut? Oxford. Oxfam Discussion Papers.

Please also note that the journal of which I’m Editor Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice & Sustainability is also a very rich source of readings.



  1. ines on September 3, 2016 at 11:57 am

    thanks for haring this very useful review!

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