Environmental Justice Workshop in Italy
Workshop on "Environmental Justice in a comparative perspective" in Milan
By Francesca Rosignoli, 2019-12-24

On December 17, 2019, the workshop "Environmental Justice in a comparative perspective" took place at the University of Milan, "La Statale."(Download the program including names of participants here)

The event took place at the Department of International, Legal, Historical and Political Studies thanks to the support of prof. Pier Filippo Giuggioli.

The idea of realizing the workshop came in Norwich, during the International Conference Transformative Connections on Environmental Justice (EJ) at the University of East Anglia in July 2019.

Thanks to the Conference, a promising network of some Italian researchers sharing the interest in environmental justice has been created. The main goal is to set up a research group made up of women only to push the debate on EJ in Italy forward. The reason for such a group composition relies on the fact that environmental injustices in Italy are more likely to manifest in terms of gender discrimination (Germani, 2011) which also corresponds with further empirical findings (Bach 2015) that are published in the previous version of the EJI's journal Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development. Thus, the research group has been created to provide a gender answer to environmental injustice. In this regard, the workshop represents the first step along this path.

An interdisciplinary dialogue aimed at analyzing and comparing some Italian case studies has fueled a lively debate on the major strengths of EJ in Italy.

In particular, the research group focused on the following issues:

  • the centrality of the environmental conflict, and its difference with environmental injustice;
  • the possibility to find a common definition of environmental justice;
  • the different subcategories of EJ;
  • how different disciplines navigate the scientific uncertainty in environmental issues;
  • how to make a transformative, forward-looking EJ without disregarding historical injustices.

Even though the discussion raised more questions than it answered, it also led to results in some key points (download the mindmap of the session by Margherita Brunori here). First, the research group agreed that a definition of EJ should include both an anthropocentric approach and a collective dimension. Also, it should address spatialities and temporalities by adding corrective justice. Second, EJ should have a particular emphasis on non-state actors, including companies, as a unit of responsibility. Third, EJ should be grounded on the shift from preferences to basic needs. Finally, EJ should focus more on a fair distribution of environmental goods rather than environmental burdens only by having the city as the driver of change.

The first step went then towards the normative level focusing on justice and how things ought to be.

We hope to see where the next steps will lead this new research group in the coming year soon.

Image: © Rosignoli