Environment and Sustainability

The growing Environment and Sustainability list is at the heart of our remit to publish quality scholarship that addresses global social challenges.

This list covers a broad spectrum of issues and focuses on the social justice dimensions of environmental sustainability, including in: climate change; environmental politics; developing sustainable economies; transport and sustainability; and environmentalist thought and ideology.

The new Open Access Global Social Challenges Journal incorporates these themes to facilitate critical thinking across disciplines and fields.

Environment and Sustainability

You are looking at 11 - 20 of 1,075 items

As the study of climate change litigation continues to emerge as a scholarly field, the conversation about the characteristics of litigation in Global South countries is still nascent. The meaning and identity of climate litigation, and the scholarly response to it, are mostly shaped around the priorities and pressures of Global North countries. But why does pursuing, and asserting, an African identity of climate litigation matter? The answer to this question lies in an understanding of what it means to pursue a ‘global’ endeavour, but also in an understanding of the dignity of African scholars, practitioners and activists in the face of the climate crisis.

This volume is a collection of scholarly reflections on the theme of climate litigation in Africa. The book spans a range of approaches and jurisdictions and aims to make a relevant yet lasting volume of reflective contributions both in relation to transnational, regional and local climate litigation scholarship, but also to our understanding of the plural nature of climate justice and climate governance.

Open access
Author:

In South Africa litigation strategies have been used to challenge coal-fired power plants and their impacts – bringing to the fore, in some cases, climate change arguments. To date these strategies have been highly effective in South Africa at highlighting the harms of relying on coal power from a climate and health, as well as a human rights, perspective, and in stopping proposed new coal power projects. These strategies continue to be developed and could be relevant in the broader African, and global, context, in light of increasing plans for proliferation of fossil fuels throughout Africa. This chapter covers the legal and factual context in South Africa as a background to the legal strategies employed there. It discusses the specific cases used in South Africa to stop proposed new coal power projects and electricity plans; and to challenge government’s failure to act on the harms of coal power – all of which ultimately have climate-based outcomes. Finally it sets out key insights and lessons from these legal strategies, including their effectiveness at addressing climate change impacts and issues. The author bases these perspectives on her own experiences as a legal practitioner and attorney, working on climate and environmental public interest law in South Africa.

Open access
Author:

No cases specifically related to climate change have been brought before African regional human rights bodies. This chapter draws on African human rights norms, substantive rights protection by regional human rights bodies, as well as the procedural considerations of climate litigation before human rights bodies, to draw conclusions about the opportunities and challenges of litigating climate change before the African human rights system. The African system not only provides a robust system of substantive rights protection, but also provides flexible procedural requirements with broad standing to bring collective and public interest cases, and provides room for justification for lack of strict compliance with admissibility criteria. The African system has also developed unique norms that extend the protection of the human rights of specifically vulnerable groups, including indigenous people, refugees and children, as some of the groups most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The regional human rights bodies also have the mandate to interpret human rights as living instruments to which they have given purposive interpretation in ensuring that victims of human rights violations are not denied justice on the basis of too narrow or restrictive interpretations.

Open access

As the study of climate change litigation continues to emerge as a scholarly field, the conversation about the characteristics of litigation in Global South countries is still nascent. The meaning and identity of climate litigation, and the scholarly response to it, are mostly shaped around the priorities and pressures of Global North countries. But why does pursuing, and asserting, an African identity of climate litigation matter? The answer to this question lies in an understanding of what it means to pursue a ‘global’ endeavour, but also in an understanding of the dignity of African scholars, practitioners and activists in the face of the climate crisis.

This volume is a collection of scholarly reflections on the theme of climate litigation in Africa. The book spans a range of approaches and jurisdictions and aims to make a relevant yet lasting volume of reflective contributions both in relation to transnational, regional and local climate litigation scholarship, but also to our understanding of the plural nature of climate justice and climate governance.

Open access
Authors: and

A new trend of climate litigation targeting private defendants – especially corporations – has gained momentum due to advances in attribution science and the legal discourse surrounding the responsibility of ‘carbon majors’. At the same time, rights-based arguments are seeing increasing success in litigation targeting governments who fail to take appropriate action to prevent climate change. This chapter explores the potential for rights-based actions against private entities, specifically on the African continent. It elucidates the significance of the horizontal application of an environmental right, both directly and indirectly, that enjoys firm judicial recognition in certain African jurisdictions. As a result, Africa is ripe for substantive engagement with environmental and associated rights and their application to private entities. More narrowly, this chapter investigates the constitutional milieu of the South African right to a healthy environment and its significant advantages for aligning private obligations with constitutional values, thus enabling new ways of pursuing private actor accountability for climate change. As a specific exemplar, it explores the nascent judicial practice of interpreting the nature and scope of directors’ common law and statutory duties through the prism of the Bill of Rights.

Open access

The duty to ‘protect’ human rights requires the state to adopt legislation, to provide effective remedies to protect right holders and to regulate non-state actors to ensure that their actions do not hinder the realization of right. Although significant, the duty to ‘protect’ rights is neither yet well-developed nor understood in the context of procedural hurdles that may challenge climate litigation. Using Nigeria as a case study, this chapter argues that due regard by every state to its duty to ‘protect’ human rights may help address procedural hurdles and thereby advance potential climate litigation for success in African countries. In making this argument, the chapter engages with the questions: What does a state duty to ‘protect’ rights mean for climate litigation? What are the difficult hurdles to climate litigation in the African context? How do existing frameworks address the hurdles? And how can the state duty to ‘protect’ rights advance the success of climate litigation. The chapter highlights necessary reforms to address legal obstacles to climate litigation.

Open access

This chapter has a conceptual and methodological orientation and engages with the question of the criteria that should be used to identify a case as climate litigation, or as climate relevant. It assumes that Africans need a climate litigation definition that will enable African actors to cognize, target and transform the governance institutions most critical to responding to the multi-faceted, severe and already manifesting climate change impacts on the continent. It argues that the visibility approach to identifying climate cases in mainstream climate litigation scholarship obscures cases that exhibit the tools governments are already using (or not using) to alleviate the impacts of climate change. The chapter proposes an alternative approach where climate risk features as the central criterion for case law selection. In developing a risk-thematic approach to identifying climate relevant case law, the chapter reviews recent scientific findings on Africa’s key risks to identify a set of keywords that could serve as climate risk criteria. By using these keywords to search an open access database of legal materials from southern Africa, the chapter demonstrates the extent of cases that could constitute the archive of African climate jurisprudence and commentary. Finally, the chapter illustrates the value of a risk-thematic approach to identifying climate-relevant cases by describing three drought litigation cases from South Africa, which brings the importance of governance tools relating to water restrictions and drought relief to the fore.

Open access
Author:

Indigenous peoples of the African continent, although victims of climate change, have accumulated Meteorological Traditional Knowledge (MTK) over generations and are ideally positioned to offer their expert MTK to the scientific community. MTK can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The sharing of MTK can be beneficial to all stakeholders and rights holders, and may be desired by indigenous peoples. However, MTK as an emerging sui generis resource is vulnerable to biopiracy and misappropriation, which mirrors generally the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. Additionally sharing can carry risks and can lead to cultural harm for indigenous peoples. This chapter seeks to identify legal avenues to preserve and equitably share the MTK of indigenous peoples, which will benefit humanity as a whole without causing cultural harm. In relation to the preservation of MTK the chapter proposes that the profile, vulnerability and value of MTK could be included in human rights protection under the African Charter. Strong land tenures would also protect the generational MTK of indigenous peoples. The chapter in particular examines recent case law involving semi-nomadic indigenous peoples, where MTK was at risk and very present in the submissions through ‘story telling’.

Open access

The COVID-19 pandemic reveals economic, social and cultural fragilities even in those countries that were considered structurally solid. Among the most damaged sectors, the higher education and training sector stands out with serious consequences for its stakeholders. This chapter deals with the COVID-19 emergency in Italian higher education. The emergency pointed out some vulnerabilities of Italian universities but also enlightened their resilience. In a short time, most of them were able to ensure teaching activities continuity by moving online. Teaching activities are among the main aims of higher education, but they are often taken for granted and undervalued, with research activities receiving more attention. The pandemic brought teaching activities back to the centre of attention. Therefore, it became fundamental to redesign teaching activities using distance learning methods even if almost all stakeholders (including university lecturers) were unprepared. In addition to the difficulties in accepting and using information technologies, lecturers challenged themselves with planning and designing new forms of teaching to protect students’ attendance and ensure adequate learning. The chapter reflects on the experience of the University of Milan-Bicocca. It discusses the outcomes of survey research administered to university staff and proposes new teaching strategies moving beyond the emergency.

Restricted access

The earthquake that occurred on 23 November 1980 has been one of the largest disastrous seismic events in Italy. It affected a large area in Southern Italy, destroyed dozens of towns and caused thousands of deaths. After four decades, the traces of destruction, temporary solutions and reconstruction are still evident in the landscape. Above all, we can find personal experiences and interpretations of these long-term processes in the memory of affected population. Through the analysis of some testimonies collected in the affected areas, this chapter illustrates how the inhabitants perceive the changes that occurred and transmitted their experiences within the community and through the generations. These changes concern the sudden disappearance of the lived space, the loss of human life, the mourning, the choices for reconstruction and the economic changes, as well as the trauma and a shared social experience that has influenced people’s lives and expectations for years. These elements are embodied in the social fabric and, in their testimonies, local communities give a new meaning to their history. The chapter demonstrates that a long adaptation process begins after each disaster. A perspective on memory helps us to investigate in depth the complex relationships between human beings and their environment.

Restricted access