Professor to promote 'just sustainability'

Thursday 10 February 2011

10 February 2011

The battles for environmental conservation and for social justice are one and the same, according to an American academic who will deliver a public lecture at the University of the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday 23 February.

Professor Julian Agyeman is the Chair of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University in Boston, and a visiting Professor at the University of South Australia.

He has developed the concept of “just sustainability”, which calls for the full integration of social justice and sustainability.

“Just sustainability is the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems,” he said.

“We often think of environmental quality and human equality as separate issues. But they are the same thing.”

Professor Agyeman said countries like Sweden, Denmark and Finland provided good examples of how environmental care and social justice went hand-in-hand.

“There is definitely a strong link between how we care for people and how we care for the environment,” he said.

Professor Agyeman is the co-founder and co-editor of the international journal “Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability”.

He is currently researching the complex relations between humans and the environment and the effects of this on public policy and planning processes and outcomes.

“One of the issues that I’m really considering at the moment is environmentally friendly housing, which is generally the province of the wealthy,” he said.

“There is a lot of evidence that poor people with low incomes could benefit in many ways from affordable ‘green’ housing, and we need to look at ways to provide this so that it’s not just a fashion accessory of the wealthy.”

Professor Agyeman said he would also like to see more urban agriculture – to provide city dwellers with good, cheap and nutritious food – and public spaces designed to better suit a diverse and multicultural society.

His lecture from 4-5pm on Wednesday 23 February will be about “Just sustainabilities: Re-imagining (e)quality, living within limits”. It will be held in USC’s Lecture Theatre 3.

— Terry Walsh