Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development

First Page



sustainability, indigenous rights

Last Page



The chapter argues that in order to contribute to a more comprehensive theoretical understanding of the many nuances of the social dimension of sustainable development, IEL scholars should engage more systematically with emerging national and international research on Indigenous alternative perspectives on environmental governance. The approach highlighted here is distinct from existing discussions related to environmental justice and Indigenous peoples, which highlights the disproportionate environmental impacts Indigenous peoples suffer as a racialized social group, because of their close cultural and existential interaction with the environment. The aim is to move from treating Indigenous peoples as victims of environmental racism, to appreciating their active role in shaping alternative forms of natural resources management and environmental stewardship that better integrate the social dimension of sustainable development.

We recognize that this is just a first exploration of the theme, which deserves more scrutiny and further empirical research. We intend this exploratory work to be an invitation to other environmental law scholars to engage in more systematic conversations with the scholarship on Indigenous Rights and Indigenous legal traditions, when carrying out research on the social dimension of sustainable development, particularly the cutting-edge work Indigenous law scholars in the Americas are undertaking.




This material has been published in The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development edited by Sumudu A. Atapattu, University of Wisconsin School of Law, Carmen G. Gonzalez, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Sara L. Seck, Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia) Schulich School of Law This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.