chapter  17
13 Pages

Environmental equity/justice

ByJASON BYRNE, DONNA HOUSTON

At the heart of environmental planning is an ethic of care. This ethic challenges planners to nurture and sustain the biogeochemical systems on which all life depends, working to prevent harm to both human and non-human populations. Environmental planning in Australia has traditionally been concerned about making the lives of people better (see chapter 3). In its early days, this was achieved primarily by focusing on developing and implementing standards for housing, infrastructure and services, and separating polluting land uses from residential areas. Early environmental planning also included efforts to site urban development away from hazardous places, for example away from flood-prone land or areas susceptible to erosion. Since the late 1960s, Australian environmental planners have tended to focus on avoiding harm to natural environments rather than on specifically promoting human health and wellbeing. Yet these two tasks are inseparable. Human health depends upon ecologically robust ecosystems and the services they provide. Planners have recently begun to recognise this interdependence, especially in the field of healthy cities (see chapter 15).