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Pluralising planetary justice beyond the North-South divide: Recentring procedural, epistemic, and recognition-based justice in earth-systems governance

San Martín, W., & Wood, N. (2022). Pluralising planetary justice beyond the North-South divide: Recentring procedural, epistemic, and recognition-based justice in earth-systems governance. Environmental Science & Policy, 128, 256-263.


The concept of planetary justice has received increasing attention within the field of earth systems governance. Although a significant epistemic shift, planetary justice discussions have primarily focused on western and (re)distributive notions of justice. By doing so, planetary justice is depriving current debates of crucial dimensions of what justice has meant for different communities and organisations. These trajectories spanning the realms of social activism, research, and institutional change have historically called for more than (re)distributional approaches to justice. We argue that recentring procedural, epistemic, and recognition-based notions of justice is critical in addressing the challenges of planetary justice in both research and practice of earth systems governance. Pluralising Planetary Justice (PPJ) requires a series of epistemic shifts in the way we research and practice the governance of environmental inequalities. These shifts demand attention to the links and gaps between justice movements and scholarship beyond the industrialised North. They also require scaling debates within climate justice and developmental ethics regarding peoples’ abilities to achieve well-being and the challenges of public deliberation across spatio-temporal scales. Finally, these shifts need to recognise long-lasting processes of epistemic colonialism and integrate intersectional, multispecies, intergenerational, and non-western notions of justice. We argue procedural, epistemic, and recognition-based justice are essential guiding principles and empirical standpoints to developing pluriversal and multiscale human-earth governance systems. Without appealing to procedural, recognition, and epistemic concerns, planetary justice cannot meaningfully engage with the necessary agents and trajectories or outline the normative ends to which it aims to advance in earth systems governance.

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