The complexity and diversity of shifting emotional geographies in environmental justice research

Mr Mark-Stanton Bailey1, Dr Natalie Osborne1, Professor Jason Byrne2

1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Political ecology studies are replete with examples of governance and economic stressors that impact social and environmental conditions. The socio-spatial distribution of environmental inequalities is a common theme. While political ecology and environmental justice literatures both attend to such matters, and increasingly overlap, the fields maintain particular roots and their foci are not necessarily shared. Extractive resource mining and its associated local social and environmental impacts is an example. Key concerns include the role of the State and affected actors, legislative frameworks, power relations, and the equity implications of differential impacts. This paper considers insights from political ecology and environmental justice, examining extractive industries in two rural communities. Analysis reveals a deeper complexity that political ecology and environmental justice could not explain – the shifting nature of emotions and geographies that occur between citizens of affected resource communities, and their links to each other, their community, and treasured places. The paper contributes to the nascent field of emotional geographies of environmental injustice, addressing environmental activism, natural resource management, place, and impacts to community. Insights are combined to generate a theoretical framework that draws upon the three fields, enabling a better understanding of the emotional impacts of extractive resource operations.


Mark Bailey (BSc Env. Hons.) is a PhD candidate at Griffith University and his research explores the intersection of Environmental Justice and Emotional Geographies theorisation. Mark also teaches into the Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning Undergraduate at Griffith.


Vulnerability to climate change in the context of multiple stressors in Tigray region, Ethiopia

Miss Rahwa Kidane1

1University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia


Smallholder farmers’ in Ethiopia are vulnerable to climatic and non-climatic forces. Using a survey of 400 farm households, in-depth interviews and participatory methods that employed a case study approach, the study examines vulnerability to climate change in the context of multiple and interacting stressors in Raya Azebo district, Northern Ethiopia. The research does so by putting the views of the vulnerable at the centre of the analysis. Through participatory methods, and focus groups, farmers were asked to identify and assess stressors that are impacting their livelihoods, without initial reference to the issue of climate change to avoid biases in response. Overall, sixteen problems, including both climate and non-climate concerns emerged from the analysis of the qualitative data. Drought ranked as a major concern as compared to other non-climatic stressors. Some of these non-climatic stressors include ineffective agricultural policies, land grabbing, weak drought early warning system, market challenges and poor rural infrastructure. These findings suggest that climate change should be treated as one challenge among the many socio-economic, political and institutional drivers of vulnerability and adaptation initiatives should take into account these broader challenges in the design and implementation of policies.


Rahwa is currently a Phd student at the University of Adelaide. She obtained her master’s degree from the University of Copenhagen and her undergraduate degree from the University of Haramaya, Ethiopia. Here email address: or

Advancing environmental justice to disaster settings: Insights from Nepal’s earthquake recovery practice

A/Prof. Krishna Shrestha1, Dr Bisika Thapa2, Professor Eileen Baldry1, Professor  Anthony Zwi1, Dr Hemant Ojha1, Mr Santosh Sharma2

1University of New South Wales , Kensignton, Australia

2CARE Nepal, Lalitpur, Nepal


Justice in the context of disasters is important but under-analysed.  While disasters affect everyone, they have disproportionate impacts on women, poor and the disadvantaged; not everyone has equal ability to respond to these impacts.  The paper examines uneven consequences of disasters, the ways different people are responding to disaster impacts and the appropriateness of responses from government and non-government organisations, thereby identifying winners and losers in the recovery process.  Informed by the literature from environmental justice and moral philosophy and drawing on two case studies from Gorkha – the epicentre of Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes, the paper demonstrates that disasters exposes socio-economic inequalities with the people of higher class tend to showcase their resources and capacity during the recovery process. Moreover, the principle of equal distribution of resources often employed by government and non-government organisations are not equal in practice because of the pre-existing inequalities along the line of gender, class and ethnicity. Unlike in many environmental justice programs where the roles of social elites are seen problematic, local elites can play a positive role in the disaster recovery. Disasters necessitate a consideration of justice in policy and practices, in addition to advancing the concept of ‘justice’ in disaster settings.


Krishna K. Shrestha is a development and environmental geographer. His research program is in the interdisciplinary analysis of Social and Environmental Justice, focusing on the intersection of development and environmental planning, policy and management. Over the years, his research projects encompass four key areas: a) political ecology and international development, b) climate change adaptation and urban planning, c) food security and livelihoods, and d) disaster resilience and justice. Connecting these is an overarching analytical thread of justice as redistribution and recognition. Krishna’s work constitutes blending a) moral philosophy and theories of justice with critical development theories and political ecology.

It might be just, but it’s just not fair: exploring policy in the governing of natural resources

Miss Anna Leditschke1, Mr Mark-Stanton Bailey2

1University Of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

2Cities Research Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


The extraction of natural resources for human use is an internationally contentious, multifaceted and politically-charged issue. This conflict is often typified in the management and governance of these resources. This paper will explore various legislative mechanisms, such as the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991, which aim to administer the exploration and operational phases of fossil fuels and other minerals in a fair and impartial manner. Within these documents, there is often specific mention regarding the consideration and protection of the environment and affected communities, or appropriate compensation or rehabilitation where required.

The township of Gloucester, New South Wales will be used as the basis of investigation for this paper. Research uncovered that this rural community was heavily impacted by the approaches of the mining industry, as well as the legislation surrounding coal and gas exploration. The interpretation and implementation of applicable Acts and policy in this particular case study raises important questions concerning the nature of resources’ policy. This involves whether the measures to protect communities and environments from industrial harms actually provide the perception of justice within supposed unbiased governance systems.


Anna has very recently completed her PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of South Australia. Her work focuses upon understandings of procedural justice and stakeholder knowledge. She currently works as a researcher and lecturer at UniSA.

Restorative Justice as a site of Environmental Justice

Dr Deborah Cleland1, Dr Miranda Forsyth1

1School Of Regulation And Global Governance (regnet), Anu, Acton, Australia


Restorative justice (RJ) and environmental justice (EJ) arose from a deep dissatisfaction with the outcomes offered through conventional regulatory processes from law making to enforcement. Both are characterised by special attention to context – to the unique configurations of time and place that lead to harm and can help in healing – while offering space for voices that normally go unheard. However, inside Australia’s regulatory space, both RJ and EJ have historically held tenuous sway over justice-as-usual. What would it mean to bring bring both concepts into mainstream environmental regulation? Drawing on interviews with regulators, activists and community groups, and considering Australia’s recent environmental history, we consider the complementarities and conflicts of a Restorative Environmental Justice paradigm. We argue that restorative opportunities are many, but will require a commitment to power-sharing and truth-telling that regulatory agencies have historically found extremely challenging. Balancing moves towards treaty with finding ways to build trust and working relationships with rural communities experiencing the twin effects of long-term agrarian and industrial pollution and deindustrialisation will be key to moving towards restorative justice, while environmental justice may well turn on increasing accountability for industrial actors and developers who are perceived as acting with impunity.


Deb Cleland (PhD, FHEA) is a Postdoc at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) ANU working on the Linkage project Restorative Environmental Justice. She brings her research into social justice, inclusion and sustainability to life through writing and performance. In her academic life she works on how regulation can improve quality of life and citizen engagement in our democracy. In her other life she works on how play can do the same thing (

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