Local Environment

Published by Taylor & Francis

Online ISSN: 1469-6711


Print ISSN: 1354-9839


"Waste in the Inner City: Asset or Assault?"
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  • Full-text available

July 2001


392 Reads


Sumreen Mirza
In an unequal society, undesirable wastes often end up in the poorest and least powerful communities, becoming part of the economic and environmental milieu of the inner city. Two contradictory responses to waste reflect contrasting theoretical paradigms. Some wastes can become assets in local economic development, creating incomes through scavenging, industrial jobs in recycling plants or new businesses using locally available materials. Other wastes are an assault on the community that receives them; toxic wastes, polluting facilities and industrial by-products often create local health hazards rather than development. Waste as an asset is consistent with the free market model of economics. The inner city, 'endowed' with waste materials and low-wage labour, has a comparative advantage in labour-intensive processing of materials that the rest of society has discarded. Waste as an assault on the community is consistent with a different model of environmental risk. Some by-products of industry are so hazardous that they should not be produced, or should be tightly regulated. Each model has a realm of validity; the balance between the two depends on which wastes are hazardous, and which are just ugly resources waiting to be discovered.

Local agenda 21 in Italy: An effective governance tool for facilitating local communities' participation and promoting capacity building for sustainability

April 2005


307 Reads

Based on the findings of the 2004 national survey of Italian Local Agenda 21s (LA21s) involving 535 local authorities, this viewpoint outlines the progress achieved in Italy, and describes the strengths and weaknesses of the Italian LA21 processes. At the time of writing, there were more than 160 Local Forums facilitating participation with a range of different stakeholders groups, 100 Action Plans had been produced, and 1300 projects had already been implemented for local sustainability. The findings from the survey indicate that Italian local authorities are starting to develop effective frameworks for enhancing local sustainability policies, capacity building within local communities, and improving innovation in local government and decision-making processes.

Deafness and Disability - Forgotten Components of Environmental Justice: Illustrated by the Case of Local Agenda 21 in South Wales

June 2007


114 Reads

This paper contributes to discussions of procedural aspects of environmental justice, understood as having procedural and substantive dimensions. It argues that the struggle for environmental justice must recognize the oppression of disabled people as part of the essential broadening of the notion of citizenship, which continues to be the focus for struggle for the international disability movement. Its case study of an area of South Wales suggests that at present disabled people, and the struggles of the disability movement, do not really feature in the way environmental activists (inside and outside government) see the world. This huge omission must be addressed, but in a way that avoids interpreting disability as an administrative category, and must engage with disablement as a political and contested notion. The paper develops the significance of this contention by considering the case of Deafness, which is entirely different from hearing impairment. The paper's case study, presented as an illustration of its arguments, shows that to regard Deaf people in South Wales as part of some generic category of 'disabled people' would be to ignore their self-identification as a distinctive linguistic community. Moreover, there is some evidence that Deaf people have a distinctive view of, and set of concerns about, quality of life, reflecting their distinctive experience of social injustice and marginalization. This underlines the necessity for a serious engagement with disablement as a political category, and the disability movement as a struggle for social justice, within the promotion of environmental justice.

Pressing the Local Account: A case study of meanings and responsibilities with regard to the local press and a local nature reserve

May 2002


28 Reads

This case study concerns the effect of meanings and use of language by a local newspaper in relation to an environmental incident in a town in south-east England that will be called Woodbridge. It explores the implications of insensitive, or misleading, use of language over a four-month period towards the end of 1995 through recordings and observations made at the time. The event is explored through the eyes of a local teenager called Tim who was involved in a school environmental education research project and who became a key player in the developing out-of-school conflict. Although the account concerns a controversy that raged several years ago, it nevertheless raises general concerns regarding newspaper coverage of environmental issues at the local level, the tension between profits and reporting truth and the apparent lack of a medium- to long-term approach to environmental issues. All names are fictitious to ensure anonymity in what remains a sensitive memory.

"I'm learning... How you go about stirring things up - In a consultative manner": Social capital and action competence in two community catchment groups

August 2002


53 Reads

The contributions of local community action groups to environmental care and restoration is usually justified and evaluated in terms of improvements to environmental quality. This article explores social benefits in the form of increases in social capital and action competence that also flow from their actions, benefits that may not only help restore degraded but also contribute to the stock of good will and skill in the community that may even prevent or minimise future environmental problems. This article documents the emergence of action competence and social capital in two community catchment groups in South-East Queensland. The findings suggest that social capital is enhanced through processes of community participation in the catchment consultation processes. The article concludes that the relationship between social capital and action competence is complementary, with social capital and action competence being mutually enhanced by the social learning that accrues from the process of community participation.

Sustainable Agriculture, Science and the Co-Production of ‘Expert’ Knowledge: The Value of Interactional Expertise

August 2006


956 Reads

After the last few decades in which the importance of `local' knowledge has been emphasized, attention must now turn to better understanding how such knowledge is communicated to certified experts (scientists) and vice versa. This paper examines how expert knowledge is co-produced in agriculture by local and non-local experts for the benefit of both. The argument is informed by an empirical case study of sustainable farmers and agriculture professionals in Iowa. While much has been written about how the conventional and sustainable models of agriculture rest upon different epistemological orientations, little has yet been said about how those different experts (local and certified) interact with each other. Building upon the work of H. M. Collins and Robert Evans, and their tripartite model of expertise (of no , contributory , and interactional expertise), I investigate the different forms of expertise that exist within agriculture. In doing so, specific focus is placed upon interactional expertise for creating meaningful exchanges (or interactions ) between scientists and non-scientists.

If not here, then perhaps not anywhere: Urban growth management as a tool for sustainability planning in British Columbia's capital regional district

February 2004


31 Reads

In 1995 the provincial government of British Columbia, Canada, passed new legislation encouraging regional districts to prepare Regional Growth Strategies. The strategies were to be means of coordinating municipal action on regional issues. They were also meant to facilitate pursuit of sustainability objectives, including reducing urban sprawl, protecting environmentally sensitive areas, providing affordable housing and decreasing pollution. This paper examines the experience so far in one region that chose to prepare a growth strategy: the Capital Regional District (CRD) at the south end of Vancouver Island. Growth-management planning in the CRD has been and remains both critical and difficult. The region expects a substantial population increase over the next couple of decades and has a limited land base for urban expansion. Many citizens recognise that their quality of life is high, but vulnerable and, as a result, public support for effective growth management is stronger in the CRD than in many other provincial growth areas. However, BC does not have a tradition of strong regional governance and the CRD as a regional authority is the creature of sixteen municipalities and electoral areas. Seven years into the process, effective growth management still faces substantial challenges, including the persistent jurisdictional protectionism of CRD municipalities. Nevertheless, there have been positive achievements and an admirable diversity of individuals, organisations and initiatives continue to push municipal and regional officials towards a more sustainable future.

The Mersey Basin and its River Valley Initiatives: An appropriate model for the management of rivers?

May 2000


32 Reads

Concepts of sustainable development have stimulated innovation in the delivery of environmental management. In particular, new partnership approaches have been developed in recognition of the need to adopt more holistic perspectives and facilitate multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral working. River catchments are complex systems and have been one particular focus of experimentation in environmental management mechanisms. This paper provides a brief overview of river management experience in the UK, charting changing approaches in terms of scope and organisation since the 1970s. This sets the context for a more detailed examination of the Mersey Basin Campaign and, in particular, its River Valley Initiatives. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the merits of this approach in relation to sustainable river management.

From the inside looking out: Knowledge, justice and modernity in the assessment of St. Julian's environmental capacity

February 2004


13 Reads

The aim of this paper is to examine whether the concept of environmental capacity is useful for implementing local sustainability. This concept suggests that there may be thresholds to the total amount of development that an area can sustain without losing its critical environmental features. By means of a case study in the popular seaside town of St. Julian's, Malta, the research uncovers a number of tensions for environmental capacity assessment, surrounding the themes of knowledge, environmental justice and modernity. It concludes that the concept does have transformative potential, challenging received wisdom about the relative usefulness of expert and lay knowledge, bringing to light processes responsible for significant differences between the residents themselves, and with other groups, and uncovering a critique of understandings of progress based on physical land development. However this potential is curtailed by weak institutions and the impotence of local residents when business and politics strike an alliance.

Figure 5: Sustainable Many participants spoke of the benefits of stewardship for future generations accrued through volunteering. One participant saw catchment volunteering as distinctly different from other forms of volunteering because of the long-term commitment and vision required of environmental volunteers: 
Voices of the Volunteers: an Exploration of the Experiences of Catchment Volunteers in Coastal Queensland, Australia

February 2005


139 Reads

This paper discusses findings of a study of catchment care volunteers drawn from the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Catchment volunteering includes individuals in not-for profit stewardship groups with a catchment focus. Catchment volunteering was experienced by participants as maintaining a balance of perspectives; developing/maintaining an identity; networking; learning; empowering; and sustainable. An illustrative model (the Outcome Space), representing a set of scales, shows the relationship between conceptions. Results indicate that catchment volunteering offers many benefits to individuals and local communities. Although there were frustrations at times, many volunteers expressed deep levels of satisfaction about their volunteering experiences. Results suggest that satisfied volunteers are those that manage to balance volunteering with other aspects of their lives; identify strongly with some aspect of volunteering; enjoy learning from their volunteer experiences; and were willing and able to share and apply their new knowledge in a variety of ways. They also made friends with other volunteers; felt valued by others in the group, and believed that what they do is important. For these respondents, volunteering contributes richly to the fabric of their lives, providing meaning and satisfaction in routine activities, enhancing local communities and building sustainability.

Australia/New Zealand: Participatory development for regional sustainability in Western Australia: an enabling state?

December 2004


18 Reads

Regionally specific sustainability processes that account for diverse environments and populations and that integrate social, economic, political and ecological spheres are being developed in Western Australia. A coordinated commitment to sustainability principles and a participatory philosophy by the state and local governments is necessary. This requires a transformation of the public service, from a director of passive programmes and laws to a facilitator of community projects and outcomes, towards an enabling state. An international participatory paradigm provides an array of concepts and methods for local and regional communities in partnership with government and industry to achieve this. Participatory methodologies are utilised successfully around the globe to create an institutional framework that facilitates a process of dialogue, partnership, networking, learning and managing change. This paper examines the potential contribution of a participatory approach to improve the participatory capacity of regional communities and both local and state governments towards the facilitation of regional sustainability processes.

Hanging in balance: Benefit sharing in community-based fishery resource management in the Lower Mekong Basin

July 2008


21 Reads

Collective management of resources has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence across resource governance, but many questions remain. What benefits are created and who are the recipients? Are these benefits and incentives sufficient to enable communities to collaborate for longer-term management? A clear conceptual framework is needed to better understand these social, economic and environmental impacts. The paper responds to this need and presents a new tool to analyse benefits and benefit-sharing within and between communities in relation to poverty reduction and conservation through two cases of community fisheries management in Lower Mekong Basin.

Brownfields as a Tool for the Rejuvenation of Land and Community

October 2006


81 Reads

Brownfields have been a powerful force attempting to advance both sustainability and economic development. The author, principally using U.S. examples, advances the belief that the true benefits potentially offered by Brownfields can only be fully realized by using tools such as found in the application of Community Benefit Agreements. In a similar way use of Community-Based Participatory Research frameworks holds out similar promise. The proof of this promise will only be found in the implementation of these models.

Building a place-responsive society through inclusive local projects and networks

April 2004


90 Reads

This paper presents the story of a project undertaken by researchers who are active participants in the national Australian debate over place and belonging. It arose from the desire to ground this debate, which brings issues of ecological sustainability, reconciliation and multiculturalism together, in more localised action aimed at building a ‘place-responsive society'. The project was carried out as a case study in a region that combines part of the Sydney metropolitan area and the separate ‘city' of the Blue Mountains, and involved a consultative committee and then a regional forum of conservationists, environmental educators and community workers. The researchers explored existing place-oriented initiatives in the region and developed practical projects for the future, most notably a proposal for ‘totemic species' work within schools involving local Aboriginal people. The research demonstrated, more than anything else, that indigenous Australian approaches to ‘place awareness' and nature conservation remain highly relevant in contemporary Australia. It also showed that bioregional awareness and the notion of place responsiveness can add value to more traditional approaches to nature conservation and environmental education. There are opportunities to galvanise local action that can integrate community and environmental work and revitalise professional practice in both areas, but the effort involves working constantly with difference and conflict.

Empowering environmentally-burdened communities in the US: A primer on the emerging role for information technology

October 2005


49 Reads

This article is a primer on the emerging role for Information Technology (IT) in the Environmental Justice (EJ) movement. It explores current and potential uses of IT by EJ organisations fighting to protect vulnerable local environments and it addresses some of the barriers to more widespread movement efficacy via e-advocacy. We argue a chief but not insurmountable barrier is the disproportionate access to, and knowledge of, the benefits of using IT in the struggle for equitable decisions about environmental impacts.

Niagara region farmers' markets: Local food systems and sustainability considerations

June 2004


406 Reads

This article presents the findings of a survey of farmers' markets customers in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. The recent growth of farmers' markets in North America and the association of these markets with local food systems development provoke examination to gain insights into consumer motivations for patronizing these markets, and to then reflect on their potential role within locally oriented and sustainable food production systems. The survey carried out on customers of three Niagara region farmers' markets corroborates previous studies that noted that socioeconomic and cultural factors such as the importance of food freshness, support of local farmers and the local farm economy, and social interaction—embeddedness—are key expressions of people's support and interest in farmers' markets. This work serves to heighten our understanding of consumer attitudes toward direct marketing via farmers' markets, yields useful speculation about these markets and their roles in sustainable local food systems progress, and also raises critical questions about such customer patronage and associated farmers' markets potential in local food system development.

The theory of neighbourhood decline due to pariah land uses: Regaining control of the downward cycle

February 2008


110 Reads

Some neighbourhood environments have become dumping grounds for locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) that middle-class Americans do not want near their homes. LULUs may combine with other pariah land uses to collectively undermine the quality of the local environment, reduce investment, government services, the proportion of middle-income people and associated businesses. As important neighbourhood attributes are lost, illegal activities, derelict structures, trash-strewn lots and the concentration of poor and unhealthy people may increase. This paper describes the theory behind the impact of pariah land uses through examples of the downward spiral experienced by Camden, New Jersey and the south Bronx, New York. It then documents the experience of one community, Elizabethport, New Jersey, in reversing that downward spiral. Success in Elizabethport came from the synergistic activities of local, state and federal governments, community groups, and not-for-profit organizations as they struggled to regain control through local environmental management, rebuilding, and reducing crime. Social capital was also strengthened by using a local community health concern—that of childhood asthma. Efforts to reverse the downward spiral of urban decay from pariah land uses should be multi-faceted, spurred by local efforts that address local concerns.

Health sector reform in Nigeria: A perspective on human rights and gender issues

January 2006


59 Reads

Public health and human rights are complementary approaches to promoting and protecting human dignity and well-being. The aim of this paper is to examine international provisions and national policies on health and human rights that regulate the health system in Nigeria, along with the institutional arrangements created for the design and implementation of health services. The paper reviews the framework for policy formulation and planning on health matters and emphasizes the responsibilities of the state to implement Millennium Development Goals and international obligations of human rights. It highlights the importance and impact of gender and reproductive rights on health system performance and concludes by proposing legal strategies to improve health outcomes in the country.

Figure 1. Diagram to illustrate the stages in fieldwork methodology 
Putting the ‘E’ into LSPs: Representing the Environment within Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) in the UK

October 2005


61 Reads

This article reports the findings of a qualitative study with residents living in six deprived neighbourhoods in the UK and the front-line workers and local policymakers responsible for the renewal of these areas. The study was an attempt to raise awareness of local environmental concerns in the context of a national and local policy agenda, which has, until recently, largely overlooked the impacts of degraded environments on the lives and activities of the people who live in them. A key aim for the study was to raise people's concerns with local decision-makers and examine how far these might be addressed through the existing financial, administrative and legislative arrangements for neighbourhood renewal in the UK, namely Local Strategic Partnerships. The research was designed to provide practical lessons and policy recommendations for others wishing to raise the profile of environmental justice in the context of neighbourhood level regeneration projects, in both the UK and elsewhere in the ‘developed' world.

Spatial determinants of local government action on climate change: an analysis of local authorities in England

September 2014


395 Reads

The engagement of UK local authorities is vital if national government is to meet its climate change commitments. However, with no mandatory targets at local government level, other drivers must explain engagement. Using a Geographic Information System, this study compares the spatial distribution of action on climate change based on past actions and stated intentions to a suite of relevant independent variables. The Action Index created is among the first to quantify climate change engagement beyond a simple binary measure and provides a useful comparative study to recent work in the USA. The Index enables investigation of both mitigation and adaptation, which show different trends in relation to some variables. The study shows that action is strongest where the voting habits of the local population suggest environmental concern and where neighbouring local authorities are also engaging in action on climate change. Physical vulnerability to the effects of climate change is a motivator for action only where the dangers are obvious. Action is less likely where other resource-intensive issues such as crime and housing exist within a local authority area.

Moving beyond “mitigation and adaptation”: examining climate change responses in New Zealand

August 2014


56 Reads

Despite the apparent failure of international negotiations and renewed criticism of the accuracy of climate science, responses to climate change continue in households, cities, fields, and meeting rooms. Notions of “doing something about”, or “taking action on” or “mitigating and adapting” to climate change inform practices of carbon trading, restoring native forests, constructing wind turbines, insulating houses, using energy efficient light bulbs, and lobbying politicians for more or less of these actions. These expressions of agency in relation to climate change provide the focus of our enquiry. We found that relationships or social networks linked through local government are building capabilities to respond to climate change. However, the framework of “mitigation–adaptation” will need to be supplemented by a more diverse suite of mental models for making sense of climate change. Use of appropriate languages, cultural reference points, and metaphors embedded in diverse histories of climates and change will assist actors in their networked climate change responses.

Sustaining jobs and environment? The value-added wood industry in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia

July 2014


89 Reads

This paper addresses claims that the value-added wood industries contribute towards an economically and environmentally sustainable forest economy in British Columbia, Canada. The small firms that comprise the value-added industries have grown in number, are relatively labour intensive, draw upon diverse, small volume timber supplies, and serve a wide variety of niche markets. Conceptually, the study is informed by an integration of the flexible specialisation model with green entrepreneurship. Empirically, the study adopts an extended case study approach and is based on in-depth semi-structured interviews with respondents of 41 small firms that represent various value-added wood processing activities in Metro Vancouver and with industry associations. The study found that these firms are modestly flexibly specialised and locally embedded but inter-firm networking is weak. As green entrepreneurs, they reveal variation in environmental awareness and performance but are adopters rather than leaders.

Figure 2: Site Classification in the Automatic Monitoring Networks
Road Traffic Pollution Monitoring and Modelling Tools and the UK National Air Quality Strategy

May 2001


268 Reads

This paper provides an assessment of the tools required to fulfil the air quality management role now expected of local authorities within the UK. The use of a range of pollution monitoring tools in assessing air quality is discussed and illustrated with evidence from a number of previous studies of urban background and roadside pollution monitoring in Leicester. A number of approaches to pollution modelling currently available for deployment are examined. Subsequently, the modelling and monitoring tools are assessed against the requirements of Local Authorities establishing Air Quality Management Areas. Whilst the paper examines UK based policy, the study is of wider international interest.

"Alternative futures": A methodology for integrated sustainability considerations, the case of Nuremberg West, Germany

July 2014


111 Reads

In the context of the desire to steer urban transformation towards sustainability transition, the development of proposals for alternative futures assists policy-makers and practitioners in focusing on impact by organising the various drivers, particularly spatial ones that cause an interactive urban system to transit. This paper presents the methodology that has been developed by the Chair for Urban Development, Munich University of Technology (TUM) as it was working within an inter-disciplinary research team on a project commissioned by the municipality of Nuremberg. The objective of this project was to develop ideas for regenerating the formerly industrial area of Nuremberg West (NW) under the guiding theme of sustainable urban development. This methodology focuses on the development of proposals of positive and possible transformations of NW in the year 2050 based on the analysis of economy, housing and space at various scales and a systematic assessment of trends. These alternative futures became framing and guiding narratives to internalise and anchor the debate in-between the various disciplines involved in this project.

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