UU contributes to EEA briefing on delivering justice in sustainability transitions

A new briefing on justice in sustainability transitions has been published online by the European Environment Agency (EEA) using input from Utrecht University researchers.

Source: EEA, 2024

The EEA Briefing Delivering justice in sustainability transitions looks into how moving towards a greener, climate-neutral, circular economy will affect our society, and why policies need to be guided by principles of fairness and justice to be successful.

Utrecht University researchers Flor Avelino, Kristina Bogner, Esther Janssen, Clara Uría Weis and Katinka Wijsman provided key input to the briefing.

“Delivering justice should not be misinterpreted as striving for a certain outcome alone. It is a continuous commitment to doing better. It is a learning process that requires broad societal participation and self-reflection from those shaping the process. Delivering justice within the context of sustainability transitions will inevitably be subject to blind spots and unpredictability, and while we cannot change that, we must do our best to co-create processes that are justice-aware,” say the scholars.

Key messages 

  • The EU’s policy framework, which provides a direction for achieving more, just and equitable sustainability transitions, will affect regions, societal systems and groups differently, and in some cases negatively.
  • Policies to support a just sustainability transition must consider several dimensions of justice, including distributional justice (allocation of costs and benefits); procedural justice (who participates in decision-making); and recognitional justice (respect for, engagement with and fair consideration of diverse cultures and perspectives). 
  • In the context of climate and environmental action, we must also consider restorative justice, which is a specific type of justice focusing on past and present harm to people, species and ecosystems.

The briefing builds on an extensive EEA-commissioned literature review commissioned by researchers from Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, which besides the authors mentioned above, also included Sanne Akerboom, Niki Frantzeskaki, Elena Fumagalli, Agni Kalfagianni, Toon Meelen and Alex Myerson, with additional support given by Niki Puskas and Silvia Seixas Lopes.

Read more on the EEA website.