Environmental justice means that environmental benefits and burdens have to be shared fairly. Environmental injustice occurs when those with political or economic power exploit the planet’s resources to the detriment of poorer communities or the average citizen. Alongside our work on environmental democracy and the enforcement of existing environmental legislation, the EEB works at both the grassroots and the policymaking level to address environmental injustice.
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Europe has historically been and remains responsible for a disproportionately high share of global environmental destruction and resource consumption. For instance, around 40% of the food eaten by Europeans is grown on other continents. This can mean, to name just a few negative impacts, using up land and water resources, contributing to soil degradation through the use of pesticides, and causing increased emissions through long transportation routes. Tackling Europe’s excessive ecological footprint is therefore paramount.
In addition, the EU needs to play a leadership role in the global and inter-regional debates on environment and sustainability. While Europe has been in the forefront of creating environmental problems, it has also been in the forefront of finding solutions, even if it falls a long way short of genuine sustainability.
By joining forces with academics and activists in the field, in writing aspirational policy recommendations and networking with knowledgeable policy innovators inside and outside the EU, we aim to look beyond the current policy agenda and determine the contours of a paradigm shift.
In general, we promote the idea of achieving a fair share of resource- and energy use both to tackle the climate and environmental problems facing the world and address social inequalities. We push decision makers in institutions such as the EU and the UN to close the gap between over- and under-consumption. For this to be achieved in Europe, we need to decrease our material footprint by 80% by 2050.
The EEB believes that we need to move well away from business-as-usual and agree an EU strategy that will bring about deep-seated changes in our economic and financial systems. This should include a new trading system that rejects deals such as the CETA agreement between the EU and Canada which prioritise business interests over those of the population as a whole. Instead, it should reflect the climate and environmental challenges the world is facing, help to create local jobs, and offer an intelligent and rational answer to citizens.
While resistance is growing, the space for civil society to address environmental injustice has been shrinking in the last years: human rights defenders and environmental justice activists opposing negative impacts on their right to land and natural resources are increasingly threatened and even killed. Growing restrictions for environmental movements are another reason for the EEB to promote environmental democracy.
reported to the Environmental Justice Atlas
environmental activists killed in 2016 according to Global Witness