Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

Atapattu, S., Gonzalez, C., & Seck, S. (Eds.). (2021). The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development (Cambridge Law Handbooks). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108555791


This chapter offers an alternative vision for sustainable futures involving self-determined Indigenous environmental justice (EJ). It builds upon a distinct understanding of Indigenous EJ which asserts that the components necessary for Indigenous EJ are Indigenous knowledge systems, legal orders, and conceptions of justice that have existed for thousands of years.1 This contribution will also offer preliminary thoughts on the need to decolonize internationally adopted conceptions of sustainable development expressed more recently through the post-2015 United Nations sustainable development agenda. Indigenous environmental injustice is very much an outcome of “unsustainable” and detrimental “development,” as well as gross violations of human and Indigenous rights as pointed to by Indigenous peoples globally for decades. Indigenous peoples have formulated alternative forms of sustainable development based in part on anti-colonial critiques of “sustainable development,” and have asserted their own self-determined sustainable future since the Earth Summit in 1992.

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