Indigenous rights and environmental justice

Environmental Ethics 20 (4):377-91 (1998)
Abstract
The modem environmental movement has a tradition of respect for indigenous cultures and many environmentalists believe that there are important ecological lessons to be learned from studying the traditional life styles of indigenous peoples. More recently, however, some environmentalists have become more sceptical. This scepticism has been sharpened by current concerns with the cause of indigenous rights. Indigenous peoples have repeatedly insisted on their rights to pursue traditional practices or to develop their lands, even when the exercise of these rights has implications in conflict with environmentalist values. These conflicts highlight some important questions in environmental ethics, particularly about the degree to which global environmental justice should be constrained by the recognition of indigenous rights. I explore some of these issues and argue for the relevance of the “capability approach” to environmental justice.
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