Symposium: Introduction – The Politics of Sustainability
Reading Time: 2minutes
In these two blogs, Julia Dehm and Joyeeta Gupta engage the questions of sustainability and environmental justice in contemporary global legal governance. In their blogs we see a common concern with the dominant position of private interest-oriented fields of law. For Dehm, the notion of ‘sustainability’ is situated in the double position of maintaining and legitimizing an international economic law framework premised on unsustainable environmental exploitation, while simultaneously curtailing the potential of international environmental law to offer alternative normative frameworks for engaging with our more-than-human worlds. Gupta offers a parallel critique in noting general patterns whereby contracts and property interests all-too-often limit the ability for public law instruments to effect transformative environmental protection. For Gupta, we are in need of an expansive notion of planetary justice, one which establishes basic minimal needs that are to be ensured for everyone while also establishing upper limits to the extent of permissible environmental exploitation. This planetary justice is necessary for addressing the asymmetry between those who largely cause (and profit from) unsustainable economic exploitation and those who suffer from it. Both scholars agree that the expansionist tendencies of economic discourses have proven insufficient for addressing the fundamental asymmetrically distributed injustices that characterize our contemporary state of global environmental governance.