Advancing Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice Part 1: The Renewable Rikers Prison Reclamation Project 

Rebecca Bratspies tells the story of the Renewable Rikers Prison Reclamation Project, in which she and others worked to close and then convert a notorious island prison into a site for green infrastructure, including developing renewable energy, food scrap, and yard waste composting and wastewater treatment infrastructure. The project enables New York City to close fossil-fuel burning power plants and polluting wastewater treatment facilities that have disproportionately burdened communities of color.

Rebecca is a Law Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, where she is the founding Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Reform. She is an internationally recognized expert on environmental justice, the regulation of new agricultural technologies, and the human right to a healthy environment. Rebecca has written scores of law review articles, op-eds, and other publications including four books. Her most recent book Environmental Justice: Law Policy and Regulation is used in schools across the country. Her environmentally-themed comic books Mayah’s Lot and Bina’s Plant have brought environmental literacy to a new generation of environmental leaders.

Environmental Justice Part 2: In Re Asbestos Litigation

Richard Laster tells the story of In Re Asbestos Litigation, a series of high-profile cases he brought to address asbestos-related diseases in Nahariya, Israel, on behalf of overburdened communities. Working first with the workers and workers’ families at an international asbestos factory, Richard was instrumental in securing appropriate medical care and insurance compensation for those who had been exposed to asbestos at the factory. He then began working with the broader community to ensure that asbestos was covered or removed from other public spaces.

Richard is Professor of Environmental Law & Policy at Hebrew University in, Jerusalem. He is also a practicing attorney at Laster & Gouldman Law Offices and was for many years Israel’s only full-time environmental lawyer. He has been involved in many cases and environmental projects particularly concerning environmental health and water.

Environmental Justice Part 3: Sentence T-724/2003 and in Sentence T-291/2009 (Recyclers’ Case)

Federico Parra tells the story of the 20-year effort to protect the human and environmental rights of waste pickers and recyclers in Colombia, among the most marginalized groups in the country. Through consistent efforts with community groups in legislative, administrative, and judicial arenas, Parra’s organization, WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), have ensured that waste pickers receive remuneration for their work and have access to social services including educational and other opportunities.

Federico is an anthropologist, with a Master in Anthropology, and PhD in Political Studies and International Relations. He is the Coordinator of the waste pickers program for Latin America of the NGO WIEGO, and member of the Research Group on Collective and Environmental Rights of the Faculty of Law, Political and Social Sciences of the National University of Colombia.

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