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What is "Just Transition"?

Indigenous Struggles, Environmental Justice, and Community Capabilities

This article discusses how Indigenous peoples’ struggles for environmental justice have redefined the justice discourse by incorporating concern for nature, culture, and communities into a range of demands for equity, recognition, and participation.


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.

From Environmental to Climate Justice: Climate Change and the Discourse of Environmental Justice

This academic paper traces the environmental justice discourse and its influence on various articulations of climate justice, as well as recent discussions on “just adaptation” to climate change.


This academic paper traces the articulations of environmental justice since its development and its subsequent influence on the three main forums for climate justice discourse: academia, nongovernmental organizations, and grassroots movements. Of these three articulations, the key concerns and principles of environmental justice are clearest in the climate justice discourse developed from grassroots movements—which have greater focus on local impacts and experience, inequitable vulnerabilities, the importance of community voice, and demands for community sovereignty and functioning.

In addition, this review traces how environmental justice affects more recent articulations of ideas for “just adaptation” to climate change. In this context, adaptation touches on issues of participation, cultural impacts, and a community’s basic needs and ability to function. This broad set of justice concerns around adaptation is not only reactive but also reconstructive, which suggests adaptation can be transformative.