Environmental Justice: Making the Case for Ecological Intergity
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The concept of environmental justice captures the notion that particular communities characterized by, for example, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, may be disproportionately affected by harmful environmental hazards. There is also evidence indicating that these same environmental hazards threaten non-human species, causing (sometimes irreversible) changes to the fundamental ecological services that support all life on earth. This study merges social and ecological determinants of health, two principles that should but rarely do intersect, by incorporating the concept of ecological integrity into a new environmental justice framework. A systematic review of 104 articles was carried out to analyze how environmental justice is currently defined in the literature. Study findings indicate that environmental justice discourse is anthropocentric and fragmented, that current approaches are reactive, and that environmental injustice requires participatory solutions. These findings guided the development of a new environmental justice model founded on the social-ecological concepts of resistance, resilience and restoration. The study further applies the concepts of the model through the processes of appreciation, assessment and action in a toolkit. The model and toolkit aim to improve human and non-human health outcomes by ultimately highlighting the interdependence between human and ecosystem health.