Preventing and addressing environmental harm through restorative justice

Project leader(s)

This research program is interested in the scope and efficacy of Environmental Restorative Justice in diverse contexts.

Environmental Restorative Justice is a way to prevent and heal environmental harm. Rather than just focussing on what rules have been broken and who should be punished, Environmental Restorative Justice:

  • Focuses on healing to humans, animals and nature as well as repairing relationships
  • Empowers victims to tell their stories of impact
  • Requires direct participation of those responsible for causing harm to listen deeply, and take responsibility
  • Enables accountability beyond traditional sanctioning and punishment

This research agenda includes two projects:

Preventing and addressing environmental harm through restorative justice (Australian Research Council)

This multi-year ARC Linkage project aims to explore how the processes and values of restorative justice do or could operate in the context of environmental harm. We also investigate what a focus on harm to nature and ecosystems contributes to the theory and practice of restorative justice.

The project brings together restorative justice experts from RegNet with the Victorian Environment Protection Authority, which has experimented with Restorative Justice for over a decade and now seeks to understand how it can be more broadly applied, using the principles of action based research.

The project seeks to draw on and build upon the EPA’s history of experimentation with restorative justice, identifying opportunities to situate restorative justice approaches at all stages of environmental regulation, both before and after harm has occurred.

Introducing justice into the UN’s Decade of Ecosystem Restoration: A community of practice for research and action (Asia-Pacific Innovation Program)

This project will create a theoretical, empirical and policy agenda for incorporating justice into the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration “the Decade”, a 10-year plan to promote efforts to “prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide”, beginning in 2021.

Hand holding glass-like globe

Environmental restorative justice: A new justice framework for environmental harm

12 June 2021

RegNet’s Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth and fellow convenors Brunilda Pali (Leuven Institute of Criminology) and Gema Varona (Basque Institute of Criminology) hosted more than 40 participant f

Justice for Environmental Restoration: A Community of Practice for Research and Action

When we discovered that the UN’s Draft Strategy on the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) did not reference justice at all, we were shocked. Justice needs to be a guiding value in order for restorative work to be effective in both the short- and long-term.

Luckily, the UN was calling for submissions. Through this, we and others advocated that restorative justice needed to be at the core of the Decade’s principle, priorities and programs. We were delighted to see that the final strategy released in September 2020 stated “Investments in restoration that adhere to principles …restorative justice will…provide and improve: work opportunities and income streams;… and cross-sectoral collaboration, learning and innovation on the use of ecosystem goods and services.”

Now it is vital to understand what including restorative justice means both practically and theoretically. We will explore this through a community of practice, where diverse researchers and practitioners can share their thoughts, ideas and working experiences of Environmental Restorative Justice’ as it relates to restoration work.

We will also create a blueprint for further research that would help ensure that environmental restorative justice remains at the heart of the Decade’s vision. This will include ideas for how scholars, practitioners and community members can make best use of environmental restorative justice as a part of restoration projects and how to champion it within specific communities.

Image: Emeritus Professor Valerie Braithwaite

Valerie Braithwaite

Valerie Braithwaite is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a disciplinary background in psychology. She has taught in social and clinical psychology programs at undergraduate and graduate...

Image: Emeritus Professor John Braithwaite

Professor John Braithwaite

John Braithwaite is an Emeritus Professor and Founder of RegNet (the Regulatory Institutions Network), now School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University...

Image: Dr Deborah Cleland (RegNet)

Dr Deb Cleland

Dr Deborah Cleland is an interdisciplinary social scientist, with a background in human ecology and natural resource management. She is currently working on how to effectively integrate...

Image: Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth (RegNet)

Dr Miranda Forsyth

Miranda Forsyth is an Associate Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in the College of Asia and Pacific at ANU. Prior to coming to...

Felicity Tepper

Along with a background in environmental law and policy (domestic and international) and disaster management, Felicity has both depth and breadth of experience across the judicial, executive and...

Climate, energy & the environment cluster

Climate, energy and the environment

This cluster has four broad regulatory and governance research themes: identifying obstacles and options for effective energy governance; analysing state and private governance mechanisms for mitigating climate change; examining the opportunities and constraints of the green economy in transforming infrastructure and urban development; and exploring creative regulatory solutions to transnational environmental problems.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet