Justice research in practice: how can it influence environmental policy and planning?

Document Type

Book Chapter


CSIRO Publishing

Place of Publication

Melbourne, Victoria


School of Business and Law




Syme, G. J. (2017). Justice research in practice: how can it influence environmental policy and planning?. In Lukasiewicz, A., Dovers, S., Robin, L., McKay., J., Schilizzi., & Graham, S. (Ed.), Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives (pp. 27-38). Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. Available here


This chapter describes the evolution of justice considerations in environmental planning. The rise of the public involvement movement in the 1970s led to a series of guidelines as to how government and industry sponsored public programs should be ethically conducted. In parallel, the environmental justice movement created a literature that clearly demonstrated that the negative effects of environmental degradation fell unequally on particular groups in society, such as the poor or those in an ethnic minority. The chapter explores the concepts of justice that have been used as the two interests merged. Through examples of the application of justice principles in environmental decision making, the dynamics of justice arguments are explored. These include: the issues of relative deprivation, deservingness and entitlement; evidence-based decision making; the issues relating to group interest; and the scales and levels of justice rhetoric. It concludes that the influence of justice research on decision making has been limited to this stage. Nevertheless, if opportunities relating to the creation of a common language, avoidance of the use of public discourse to reach a pre-determined outcome, and creating defensible evaluation programs within the political process are improved substantially, more influence will be achieved.

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