A new working paper by Christopher Jeffords (Department of Economics) and Joshua Gellers (Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University
of North Florida) is listed in the Social Science Research Network’s Top Ten Recent Papers in Environmental Networks and Justice.
The global trend toward the adoption of environmental rights within
national constitutions has been largely regarded as a positive development for
both human rights and the natural environment. The impact of constitutional
environmental rights, however, has yet to be systematically assessed using
empirical data. In particular, the expansion of procedural environmental rights—legal provisions relating to access to information, participation, and
justice in environmental matters—provides fertile ground for analyzing how
environmental rights directly interface with conditions necessary for a
functioning democracy. In order to understand the extent to which these
provisions deliver on their lofty aspirations, Jeffords and
Gellers conduct a quantitative analysis designed to evaluate the
relationship between procedural environmental rights and environmental justice.
The results demonstrate that states with procedural environmental rights are
more likely than non-adopting states to facilitate the attainment of environmental
justice, especially as it relates to access to information.
In particular, they find that countries with a constitutional
procedural environmental right to information report (on average) that urban
access to an improved water source is 4.421 percentage points higher, and rural
access is 13.44 percentage points higher. These effects persist when controlling
for the presence of constitutional substantive environmental rights, country-level sociodemographic characteristics, as well as
for three categories of resource constraints: income, institutional, and natural.