This article examines how the concept of justice is being used by various environmental groups and discusses the “capabilities-based approach” to justice used by Indigenous communities in their struggle over various environmental issues. It then presents two case studies from Arizona and southern Chile to illustrate the different conceptions of environmental justice among Indigenous communities around the world.
The authors first discuss scholars and activists’ historical conception of justice and explain the capabilities-based approach to environmental justice. They criticize an earlier focus on equity as the core principle of environmental justice, which they argue should go beyond fixing mere distributive and procedural inequities to enabling communities to thrive culturally.
They present two case studies on Indigenous environmental justice movements and argue that their conceptions of environmental justice offer a broad, integrated approach to development. They conclude that such an approach allows for diversity and provides an “integrative way” to understand environmental justice concepts from an Indigenous perspective, which includes a concern for the basic functioning of communities, their culture, and their relationship with nature.