Youth for Environmental Justice
Following The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD)’s strong belief in the importance of youth and their potential to be agents of positive change throughout the Arab world, the organization is seeking to promote and inspire ways young people’s abilities and potential can make entrepreneurial and social projects successful, achieve change through engagement within their communities, and contribute to enabling access to justice in the broadest sense.
It was in this spirit that ARDD held the “Youth for Environmental Justice” event that took place Saturday 12 May 2018 at The Forests Camp for Adventure and Challenges in Jerash city. Environmentally interested youth from various Jordanian Universities and different Jordanian Governorates took part in this activity.
In discussing the environment, the ARDD activity leader noted its importance, its various interconnected concepts, and the need for educating the general public—including local communities and students—to raise members’ awareness of the environmental platform adopted by the United Nations. He noted that the core tenets of that platform have been applied by developed nations in their domestic legislation as an integral part of the overall international human rights system enshrined in international and regional charters, treaties, and declarations. Included among these rights is the concept of environmental justice based on the right of all members of society to enjoy a clean, healthy, and safe environment, and to expect that their leaders will apply efforts to ensuring this right.
Through active dialogue and discussion, the young participants demonstrated their awareness of relevant issues. It was clear to some that the globalization of transnational risks in the world, especially those related to the environment, are a pressing issue. The costs of reform are terribly high for the global community, thus, poor management these risks pose serious problems for our collective future.
For the group of young participants, the concept of environmental justice included the need to take legal action to empower environmental institutions responsible for preventing pollution from being concentrated in areas inhabited by poor, at risk, or pressured populations. Such institutions are also key forces addressing the concept of a multiplier effect of pollution, an idea that can provide justification for a legal and environmental basis for measuring the potential environmental impact of proposed and ongoing projects.
Besides a series of atmospheric activities and adventure challenges that immersed the participants in the beautiful nature of their surroundings and helped build bonds of trust among the participants, the group made some key recommendations. Below are the highlights:
- To review laws related to environmental issues to propose suggestions for making them more coherent, thus removing the areas of conflict between them and empowering the more beneficial law, the most important of which is the right to access relevant information.
- Linking environmental justice to social justice as a fundamental principle of peaceful coexistence within the nation, under which it is possible to provide a decent life for all citizens under the rule of law and Jordanian institutions.
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination between different groups of people at the local, regional, and even international levels and meet the basic needs of citizens irrespective of gender, color, income, or geographical residence.
- To promote the concept of participation in decision-making and policy-making on environmental issues by all segments of society, its spectra, and its regions.
- The need to promote the concept of sustainable development that balances the economic, social, and environmental aspects of it for present and future generations.
- Involving civil society institutions in environmental decision-making and developing effective plans and programs for the protection of the environment and human health.
- Activating regional and international agreements related to environmental issues.
- The necessity of activating the role of the press and the media in spreading environmental awareness and highlighting the concept of environmental justice, clarifying that concept for the public while instilling within jurists a greater responsibility in making themselves and society more aware of these issues and their roles in them.
- The need to apply the principle of evaluating the environmental impact of future projects by implementing environmental studies that take into account fairness, equity, responsibility, and impartiality.
- Enhancing the role of youth and women and empowering them to engage in environmental decision-making, developing their practical capacities to encourage them to both protect the environment and make appropriate decisions in the future in a scientific and thoughtful manner.
In this atmosphere of enthusiasm and optimism, the young people concluded their environmental day chanting a strong “Yes!” to environmental justice, part of the overall justice to which ARDD strives in the collective and participatory spirit of the Arab Renaissance.