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Implications of the Environmental Justice Movement on Redistributive Urban Politics: An Example from Megacity Dhaka, Bangladesh

Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements

ISBN: 978-1-78350-697-2, eISBN: 978-1-78350-686-6

Publication date: 26 November 2014


Many megacities in the Global South have developed without any systematically regularized modernization processes. Therefore, urbanization is accompanied by the inappropriate level of economic and social opportunities. This macro-structural constraint of urbanization contributes to frame the patterns and features of many location-based poverty and inequality.

Dhaka followed the similar trajectory of development without creating substantial opportunities for its underclass, poor, and marginalized citizens. This unequal pattern of development influences the disproportionate environmental burdens of the marginalized people, who have little or no voice in the urban decision-making process. People experience unequal environmental inequality through their differential exposures to poor housing and/or living conditions, along with a lack of access to safe drinking water, sewage, adequate waste disposal systems, and so on.

In this context of urban injustice, this environmental justice movement (EJM) is an evidence of demanding basic rights among the unprivileged citizens. To some extent, this is a response to the state’s structural failure to provide urban environmental services (and social justice) to majority of its poor citizens.

Evidence suggests that in context of fragile democracy, an EJM can generate opportunities for progressive urban politics as well as contribute to redistributive development opportunities for its poor and marginalized citizens. Most megacities in the Global South inherit urban governance from their colonial heritages, which were often criticized for its citizen-detached and top-down nature.

Dhaka is not an exception in this context. In the present socio-political condition, even though the environmental movement is not very welcomed by the government – more particularly from the ruling political party – it can have tremendous implications on redistributive urban politics. This chapter focuses on Dhaka, which is currently one of the world’s largest megacities in the Global South.

This chapter highlights the local patterns and process of the unequal environmental burdens and the subsequent mobilization, demanding environmental justice in that process, as well as how that movement contributes to redistributive urban politics. The discussions of this chapter also have the implications on public policy discourse focusing on environmental rights, movements, and citizens-centered politics in the megacities of the Global South, with renewed relationships between the state and its citizens.



Ahmed, S. (2014), "Implications of the Environmental Justice Movement on Redistributive Urban Politics: An Example from Megacity Dhaka, Bangladesh", Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements (Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 255-274.



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