November 1, 2012
On the Nature of Cities blog, Prof. Rebecca Bratspies writes that as more of the world’s population now lives in urban environments, many environmental laws have developed without cities in mind. However, she writes, “by surfacing when and how environmental laws fail to generate improvements that reach everyone, even despite national statistics showing overall environmental progress, environmental justice highlights the unequal distribution of both environmental bads and environmental goods in a society. Thus, an examination of environmental laws through an environmental justice lens focuses attention on which communities become overburdened with polluting industry and why, while also demonstrating that those same communities are often underserved by green infrastructure, including adequate sewers, clean accessible rivers, parks and greenspaces.”
Prof. Bratspies is the director of CUNY Law’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. She has published widely on the topics of environmental liability, regulatory uncertainty, regulation of international fisheries, and regulation of genetically modified food crops.