Environmental justice and conceptions of the green economy

  • Timothy G. EhresmanEmail author
  • Chukwumerije Okereke
Original Paper


Green economy has become one of the most fashionable terms in global environmental public policy discussions and forums. Despite this popularity, and its being selected as one of the organizing themes of the United Nations Rio+20 Conference in Brazil, June 2012, its prospects as an effective mobilization tool for global environmental sustainability scholarship and practice remain unclear. A major reason for this is that much like its precursor concepts such as environmental sustainability and sustainable development, green economy is a woolly concept, which lends itself to many interpretations. Hence, rather than resolve long-standing controversies, green economy merely reinvigorates existing debates over the visions, actors and policies best suited to secure a more sustainable future for all. In this review article, we aim to fill an important gap in scholarship by suggesting various ways in which green economy may be organized and synthesized as a concept, and especially in terms of its relationship with the idea of social and environmental justice. Accordingly, we offer a systemization of possible interpretations of green economy mapped onto a synthesis of existing typologies of environmental justice. This classification provides the context for future analysis of which, and how, various notions of green economy link with various conceptions of justice.


International environmental justice Green economy Social justice Sustainable development Rio+20 



Environmental Kuznets curve


Gross domestic product


Green economy


Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development


United Nations Environment Programme



The authors wish to thank Dimitris Stevis and Dale Jamieson, as well as the editorial board of this Journal, for their helpful and insightful comments on an earlier draft of this article. Any errors or omissions remain the sole responsibility of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of the South--SewaneeSewaneeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental ScienceUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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