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Global Environmental Justice

Who we are

The Global Environmental Justice Group is an interdisciplinary group of scholars interested in the linkages between social justice and environmental change, with a particular focus on the global dimensions of (in)justice.

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What we do

We study injustices in different areas of contemporary environmental governance, and we are actively involved in envisioning and supporting more effective forms of environmental governance and social mobilisation.

We seek to place justice analysis at the heart of environmental governance, with a particular emphasis on promoting environmental justice for those suffering from poverty and disempowerment.  Our interest in identifying global connections and dynamics is combined with explicit attention to local social and environmental struggles.

We value exchanging perspectives and collaborating with a number of actors including local communities, land and resource users, other researchers, environmental activists, policy-makers, development professionals and students.

 Why does justice matter for ecosystem management?

Biodiversity Conservation

Research on biodiversity conservation by the Global Environmental Justice Groups focuses on the trade-offs and dynamics between conservation and development objectives and analyses the different notions of justice at stake.


Key Publications

Martin, A. (2017). Just Conservation: Biodiversity, Wellbeing and Sustainability. Earthscan, London.

Martin, A., Coolsaet, B., Corbera, E., Dawson, N. M., Fraser, J. A., Lehman, I., & Rodriguez, I. (2016). Justice and conservation: The need to incorporate recognition. Biological Conservation, 197, 254-261. 

Gross-Camp, N. D., Martin, A., McGuire, S., Kebede, B. and Munyarukaza, J. 2012. PES in an African protected area: exploring issues of legitimacy, fairness, equity & effectiveness. Oryx, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 24-33.

Martin, A., McGuire, S. and Sullivan, S. 2013. Global Environmental Justice and biodiversity conservation. Geographical Journal. 179 (2): 122-131. 

Sperling, L. and McGuire, S. 2010. Persistent myths about emergency seed aid. Food Policy, 35 (3). pp. 195-201. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2009.12.004

Sperling, L., McGuire, S., Smale, M., Bayard, B. and Shannon, D. 2010. Seed System Security Assessment, Haiti. Technical Report. International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

McGuire, S. 2008. Securing access to seed: Social relations and sorghum seed exchange in eastern Ethiopia. Human Ecology, 36, 217-229. doi:10.1007/s10745-007-9143-4.

Climate Change

Research within the Global Environmental Justice group on Climate Change focuses on the urban, non-state and transnational politics of climate change and climate justice. Climate change has long since ceased to be an issue predominantly tacked at the international scale, and this research seeks to unpack the politics of climate change governance with a focus on multiple scales and actors, particularly the urban scale and non-state actors.

Our research examines how climate change mitigation and adaptation are both dependent on and must be reconciled with the imperative for socio-environmental justice. It is based on the premise that context matters. Given this, urban areas for instance raise particularly gritty questions of justice as cities seek to transition to a low carbon economy. At the same time, meta-narratives like climate justice are both a product of and located in particular times and places, so we are attentive to the discourses of climate justice emerging from disparate civil society actors, which both mobilize the concept and redefine it in the process.


Key Publications

Schroeder, H. 2014. Governing access and allocation in the Anthropocene. Global Environmental Change 26: A1-A3.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V. and Edwards, G. 2014. An Urban Politics of Climate Change: Experimentation and the Governing of Socio-technical Transitions. Routledge, London.

Bulkeley, H., Edwards, G. and Fuller, S. 2014. Contesting climate justice in the city: Examining politics and practice in urban climate change experiments. Global Environmental Change 25: 31-40.

Schroeder, H., Sikor, T. and C. McDermott. 2014. Beyond carbon: enabling justice and equity in REDD+ across levels of governance. Ecology and Society 19(1).

Schroeder, H. and Okereke, C. 2013. REDD+ and Social Justice: Adaptation by Way of Mitigation?, in S. Moser and M. Boykoff (eds.) Successful Adaptation to Climate Change. Routledge, London, pp. 81-94.

Schroeder, H., Boykoff, M., & Spiers, L. 2012. Equity and state representations in climate negotiations. Nature Climate Change 2 (12): 834-836.

Ecosystem Management

The work of the Global Environmental Justice Group on ecosystem management consists of understanding the different ways in which ecosystem services include and exclude different stakeholders and to pay attention to the way in which the benefits of these management systems are (unevenly) distributed.

Research on this area points to the need for recognition of ecological and social trade-offs as a crucial precondition for a just ecosystem management. The search for a more just ecosystem management is one that involves understanding the need for, but also the complexities involved in more inclusive decision-making procedures, and in combining the aims of conservation and poverty alleviation.


Key Publications

Policy Brief: Linking Conservation and Development in a Time of Rapid Change at Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area Lao PDR.

Participatory Manual: The Participatory Tool for Community Ecosystem Service Assessment and Dialogue in National Protected Areas (CESAD)

Rasmussen, L. V., Mertz, O., Christensen, A. E., Danielsen, F., Dawson, N., & Xaydongvanh, P. 2016. A combination of methods needed to assess the actual use of provisioning ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services, 17, 75-86.

Rasmussen, L. V., Christensen, A. E., Danielsen, F., Dawson, N., Martin, A., Mertz, O., Sikor, T., Thongmanivong, S. & Xaydongvanh, P. (2016). From food to pest: Conversion factors determine switches between ecosystem services and disservices. Ambio, 1-11. - 

Sikor, T., Martin, A., Fisher, J., He, J. 2014. Towards an empirical analysis of justice in ecosystem governance. Conservation Letters 7: 524-532.

Sikor, T. (ed.). 2013. The Justices and Injustices of Ecosystem Services. Earthscan, London.

Energy and Climate Change

Research within the Global Environmental Justice group on Climate Change focuses on energy and climate justice. It looks at the key challenges of reconciling efforts to tackle energy poverty at the same time as climate change.

Today, 1.6 billion people are without electricity, and a three to five fold increase in electricity demand is anticipated in the developing world over the next 30 years. Meeting these energy needs, particularly for poorer communities, is pivotal to development. However, without a significant change of course this will predominantly be fossil fuel based electricity production that will exacerbate climate change.

The research around energy justice analyses the issues raised by questions of who gets to use what type of energy in a carbon-constrained world. Furthermore, it analyses how notions of justice conflict and compete in the search for ‘clean energy'. The research tackles the complexities involved in the process of governing a transition to a low carbon economy in which clean development has an increasing role to play. This research places the actors, institutions and policy processes of the governance of clean development at the centre of the analysis.


Key Publications

Newell, Peter and Jon PNUD:  2011: ‘Pursuing Clean Energy Equitably'. Background paper for the UNDP Human Development Report 2011

Bailey, I, Gouldson, A and Newell, P (2011) Ecological Modernisation and the Governance of Carbon: A Critical Analysis. Antipode 43(3): 682-703

Newell, P, Phillips, J and Purohit, P (2011) ‘The Political Economy of Clean Development in India: CDM and Beyond'.IDS Bulletin 42(3): 89-96

Newell, P. 2011: ‘From global power politics to responsible collective governance: The transparency and inclusiveness of international climate governance institutions and processes' Transparency International Global Corruption Report: Climate Change. London: Earthscan, pp. 28-28.

Newell, P 2011: ‘Civil Society and accountability in the global governance of climate change' in Scholte, J.A (ed) Building Global Democracy? Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance Cambridge: CUP, pp. 225-245.

Newell, P. (2009) Varieties of CDM governance: Some reflections. Journal of Environment and Development 18: 425 - 435.

Newell, P., Jenner, N. and Baker, L.B. (2009) Governing clean development: A framework for analysis. Development Policy Review, 27(6): 717 - 739.

Disaster Risk

The work of this Group analyses the ways in which disaster risk, including vulnerability to hazards and recovery following major disasters, intersects with issues of justice. It places particular focus on the social and environmental dynamics associated with hazard and disaster events, including the potential impacts of climate change, and examines the way in which extreme events pose new (and old) challenges in terms of justice and wellbeing for the poor majority.


Key Publications

Tucker,J., Daoud, M., Oates, N., Few, R., Conway, D., Mtisi, S. and Matheson, S. 2015. Social vulnerability in three high poverty climate change hotspots: what does the climate change literature tell us? Regional Environmental Change 15 (5): 783-800

Chhotray, V. 2014. Disaster Relief and the Indian State: Lessons for Just Citizenship. Geoforum, 54: 217-225

Clark, N., Chhotray, V. and Few, R. 2013. Global justice and disasters. The Geographical Journal 179 (2): 105-113. 

Few, R. 2013. Health, environment and the ecosystem services framework: a justice critique. In Sikor, T. (ed) The justices and injustices of ecosystem services, Earthscan, London, 140-160.

Few, R., Lake, I., Hunter, P.R., and Pham Gia Tran. 2013. Seasonality, disease and behaviour: using multiple methods to explore environmental health risks in the Mekong Delta. Social Science and Medicine, 80: 1-9. 

Bang, H. and Few, R. 2012. Social risks and challenges in post-disaster resettlement: the case of Lake Nyos, Cameroon. Journal of Risk Research, 15 (9): 1141-1157. DOI:10.1080/13669877.2012.705315.

Chhotray, V. and Few, R. 2012. Post-disaster recovery and ongoing vulnerability: Ten years after the super-cyclone of 1999 in Orissa, India. Global Environmental Change, 22 (3): 695-702.

Few, R. 2012. Health behaviour theory, adaptive capacity and the dynamics of disease risk. Climate and Development, 4 (4): 301-310.  

Chhotray, V. and Hill, J. 2011. Socio-political and environmental dimensions of vulnerability and recovery: Critical lessons since the 1999 super-cyclone. Research Report to the United Nations Development Programme, India

Few, R. and Pham Gia Tran. 2010. Climatic hazards, health risk and response in Vietnam: case studies on social dimensions of vulnerability. Global Environmental Change 20, 529-538.

Few, R. and Pham Gia Tran. 2010. Climatic hazards, health and poverty: exploring the connections in Vietnam. Working Paper 19, DEV Working Paper Series, The School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK.

Few, R. 2007. Health and climatic hazards: framing social research on vulnerability, response and adaptation. Global Environmental Change 17, 281-295.


Research on forest justice studies existing injustices in contemporary forest management, by paying particular attention to issues of access, property, and governance. It examines the linkages between social justice, inclusive livelihoods and forest conditions, particularly its global dimensions.

Research on forest justice examines how social injustices generate deforestation and forest degradation, and how just forms of governance can contribute to sustainable forest management, poverty alleviation and be inclusive of different livelihoods.

We are also actively involved in envisioning new forms of forest governance and social mobilization that enhance forest people's access to forests, participation in decision-making and social recognition.


Key Publications

Satyal, P. (2017) Assessing Civil Society Participation in REDD+ and FLEGT: Case Study Analysis of Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and the Republic of Congo, DEV Reports and Policy Paper Series, The School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK. 

Schroeder, H., Sikor, T. and C. McDermott. 2014. Beyond carbon: enabling justice and equity in REDD+ across levels of governance. Ecology and Society 19(1).

Forsyth, T. and Sikor, T. (2013), Forests, development and the globalisation of justice. The Geographical Journal, 179: 114–121.

Thomas Sikor, T. and Stahl, J. (eds.), 2011, Forests and People: Property, Governance, and Human Rights, London: Resources for the Future/Earthscan. Read an electronic version of the introduction here

Sikor, T., 2010, Forest justice: towards a new agenda for research and practice?, in: Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 245-250.

Sikor, T., Stahl, J., Enters, T., Ribot, J. C., Singh, S., Sunderlin, W.D., Wollenberg, L., 2010, REDD-plus, forest people's rights and nested climate governance, in: Global Environmental Change, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 423-425

Water Resources Management

Thinking water management in terms of global environmental justice means taking a critical perspective at international transboundary environmental cooperation and conflict, and 'hydro-hegemony'.

This research pays particular attention to the role those overt and covert forms of power play in shaping the outcomes, perceptions, and analysis of water conflicts. Counter-hegemonic tactics and strategies are also examined, through attempts to level the playing field and the conception and then creation of alternative arrangements. The contributions to water science and water policy are through demonstrating the relevance of political economy, hydro-politics and international law at the river basin, regional and global levels.


Key Publications

Zeitoun, Eid-Sabbagh, Dajani and Talhami (2012) Hydro-political Baseline of the Upper Jordan River. Beirut, Association of the Friends of Ibrahim Abd el Al.

Zeitoun, M., Mirumachi, N. and Warner, J. (2011) Transboundary water interaction II: the influence of ‘soft' power. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 11 (2): 159-178.

Zeitoun, Mark, Clemens Messerschmid, Shaddad Attili (2009).  Asymmetric Abstraction and Allocation: The Israeli-Palestinian Water Pumping Record, Ground Water 47 (1): 146 – 160.

Research Projects A-Z

Current Projects:

This project will emphasize and dissect the processes of knowledge production against ‘extractivism’ including mineral, biomass and forest fuel extraction, and towards transformative sustainability from the ground up, based on the assumption that therein lies the greatest potential for action and agency for dealing with environmental and social crises today. 

This project is testing the idea that ‘all hazards’ approaches to building resilience will be more effective if placed within the particular historical and cultural contexts that land use and human settlement patterns were established. Looking at this across centuries, can demonstrate how risk to natural hazards like storms and volcanoes is created and disaster risk management responses evolve.

CoCooR analyses the impacts of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) on conflict and cooperation in developing countries through application of an environmental justice lens in case studies in Mexico, Nepal and Vietnam.

The IMPACTS project aims to enhance understandings of the social impacts of protected areas, and the ways they in turn influence ecological outcomes, in order to inform more socially and environmentally sustainable governance.

This research project funded by ESPA follows on from previous studies, and will review existing knowledge to ask how agricultural intensification shapes the changing trade-offs between land use, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation.

The project focuses on a critical but under-researched theme in studies of forced displacement: the processes through which people forced from their homes by conflict can commonly become exposed to heightened risk from environmental hazards in the places where they resettle. Effectively, such people exchange one form of catastrophic risk for another, often with little real choice in the process.

The research project focuses on justice politics in the timber and wood furniture global production networks originating in Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam and ending in Europe. ProdJus will improve understanding of how collective action can address critical challenges in an increasingly globalised world.

This project investigates how REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) influences access to and control over forests through case studies in Indonesia and Vietnam.

This research funded by ESRC/DFID examines the international politics of justice surrounding REDD+ Safeguards and international water law in Sudan, Nepal and Uganda, exploring the extent to which international carbon forestry and hydropower policies serve to support poor people's claims to sustainable livelihoods and supporting civil society organisations involved in environmental mobilisations through novel forms of engagement.

U-RES examines the current state of urbanisation in Africa and how this aligns with the projected increasing risks from climate change. U-RES will conduct case studies of urban governance around Durban South Africa, and in Isiolo Kenya, which will provide insights into how this can be modified to better take into account the needs of marginalised groups.

This research aims to find the answer to a fundamental question: why should ecosystem services (ES) be used for poverty alleviation? This project has the potential to provide a step-change in how poverty and the governance of ES are conceptualised, and in turn, how related trade-offs (human wellbeing vs. non-human nature; current vs. future generations; the poor vs. the greater good of all humans) may be resolved.


Completed Projects:

The project aims to provide policymakers and practitioners with the information, analysis and tools they need to implement policies and projects for adaptation to climate change and reduction of carbon emissions in the forests of the Congo Basin

This research explores the consequences of climate change and climate variability in the Niger River Basin for human security and the risk of conflict.

We provide research on social impacts, governance and equitable benefit sharing to a project led by the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative.

This project is conducting research in Bolivia, China, Tanzania and Venezuela looking at divergence and convergence between different stakeholders' conceptions of justice and fairness, as a basis for understanding conservation conflicts and cooperation.

This ESPA-funded project brings together academics and practitioners to respond to international policy targets for protected areas to be managed equitably by developing an appropriate framework and validating it through fieldwork at three sites and a workshop with regional practitioners in East Africa.

Through field research in north-eastern Laos, this ESPA-funded project seeks to develop practical research methods which help to reconcile the conservation of globally-important biodiversity with the needs and wants of local populations.

Under this ESRC-funded project Thomas Sikor has teamed up with RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests to engage policy-makers, forestry experts and the public in Vietnam

The research examines the politics of use and control of the Hasbani and other Upper Jordan River tributaries, between Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

This research seeks to identify concrete mechanisms that distribute REDD+ benefits in an equitable manner, facilitate forest people's participation in REDD+ governance, and provide recognition to their particular histories, identities and visions.

This project develops a novel conceptual framework to inform research on the linkages between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation.

This project will explore how social relationships shape the structure of agricultural biodiversity, with a particular emphasis on how these networks shape access. 

This research programme focuses on the role of non-state actors in multilateral climate diplomacy as well as non-state governance in the transnational arena.

This project examines the wide range of actors, interests and ideas that are influencing the operationalisation of REDD+ in reference to conceptions of just forest governance and other goals.

This project stems from policy work and intensive study of farmers' coping strategies following disaster, and the impacts of emergency interventions on farmers and their systems of seed provision and biodiversity management

This research is based on a conservation project, which examines the potential for Payments for Ecosystem Services to balance conservation and development objectives

REDEGN examines the effects of global environmental norms on poverty alleviation in the Global South through explorations of forests and water in Nepal, Sudan and Uganda.

The research examined livelihoods trajectories in eastern Orissa since 1999, the socio-political and environmental dimensions that have helped shape them, and examine how these translate into the ‘ongoing vulnerability' of coastal communities

This project seeks to develop our theorization of climate justice with reference to an empirical study examining how NGOs in the UK and Australia conceptualize climate justice.

This research programme, which entails study both of human behaviour and institutional policy and practice in relation to the health risks from environmental hazards, in the context of climate change.

The work considers the different options for supply of water to Gaza


We work with a range of partners to produce new knowledge, exchange experiences, develop capacities, and support Southern-led environmental justice struggles. 

Norwich Think Tanks on Global Environmental Justice

We organize Think Tanks that bring together activists, policy-makers and researcher to exchange experiences, discuss outstanding issues and review ways forward on global environmental justice.

The most recent Think Tank was held in December 2016 and looked at the interface between Environmental Justice and Conflict Transformation. A summary of the event can be read in this News Briefing, and a comprehensive record of the Think Tank can be found in this Report.

The results of the first two Think Tanks are expressed in Norwich Declarations. 
•    First Norwich Declaration on Global Environmental Justice (English, Spanish)
•    Second Norwich Declaration on Forest People's Rights and REDD+ Safeguards (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Vietnamese)

Short Courses for Professionals

We provide short and focused training courses for policy-makers and practitioners. These courses are organized through the training office of International Development UEA (DEVCo). 
•    Climate Change and Development
•    Forest Governance: Operationalizing Equity and Justice in REDD+, PES and FLEGT
•    Water Security and International Development

Online Training Course for all Environmentalists

In 2015 we set up an online training course (MOOC - massive open online course) on environmental justice in the FutureLearn portal. Through this training, environmentalists learnt about the key concepts and political challenges of justice and examined these in relation to different topics of environmental management such as forestry, climate change, biofuels and water. 

Visiting Fellows Programme

We are inviting early-career researchers, activists and professionals working on environmental justice concerns to spend time with us. Our Visiting Fellows Programme provides a stimulating intellectual environment and logistical support (desk space and access to library services) for short-term visits up to two months. If interested please enquire at

University Education 

We contribute to university education through undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD programmes in environment, international development and geography. We value training future environmental managers and thus facilitate, for instance, an exchange between Master students and global environmental justice activists. 

Learn from the experiences of Lorraine and Rory working with environmental justice activists.

Testimonies of Justice

We have produced a number of dissemination products including video clips on Testimonies of Justice. These can be used for educational and advocacy purposes. Please take a look at our Testimonies of Justice videos.