Temporal Scales of Justice and Sustainability: Aboriginal Peoples and Environmental Governance in the “Wild” Landscapes of Northern Australia

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 2:45 PM
Room: 502
Oral Presentation
Stewart LOCKIE , The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
Sustainability evokes concepts of social and environmental justice that are inherently temporal. It assigns rights to future generations and works to apprehend risks to human well-being stemming from as yet indeterminate environmental change. While the future-oriented temporality of sustainability is of manifest importance, research in environmental justice highlights the parallel importance of contemporary social and spatial relations, and the historical roots of those relations, in the determination of social-ecological futures. This presentation explores the temporality of sustainability and environmental justice in context of Aboriginal peoples’ involvement in environmental governance in Far North Queensland, Australia. It argues that while indigenous Australians are ascribed unique legal and moral rights in environmental decision-making, aboriginal involvement in environmental governance is often restricted, in practice, to conservation of natural and cultural heritage. As passage of the Wild Rivers Act 2005 illustrates, aboriginal aspirations for futures that integrate natural and cultural heritage with the development of natural resources, diversification of remote economies and/or political self-determination often meet active state resistance.