Publications: Environmental Justice

Contents Environmental Justice International Transfers Urban Leadership

The Perlman Principles: Cities Are Our Future
1. There can be no global ecological sustainability without urban ecological sustainability.
Concentrating the human population in cities is essential to preserve both agricultural and wilderness areas.
Circular rather than linear urban systems are necessary to recapture resources.
2. There can be no urban environmental solution without alleviating urban poverty.
3. There can be no lasting solution to poverty or environmental degradation without a strong civil society and grassroots innovations.
Small may be beautiful, but it is still small. Micro solutions need to be scaled up for macro impact.
4. There can be no impact of scale without:
Sharing what works among local leaders, or scaling up into public policy.
5. There can be no urban transformation without:
Changing the old incentive systems and rules of the game;
Forming collaborative partnerships among mutually distrustful sectors;
Linking the local to the global through a transnational independent network.
6. There can be no sustainable city of the 21st Century without social justice and political participation, as well as economic vitality and ecological regeneration.
Elaboration on the Perlman Principles

Please refer to the book
State of the World, Chapter 9: Fighting Poverty and Environmental Injustice in Cities
by Janice Perlman with Molly O'Meara

The Poverty / Environment Nexus in Mega-Cities
With an introductory chapter by Manuel Castells, this book presents and analyzes fourteen case studies from Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Jakarta, Mexico City, Cairo, Accra, Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi, and Buenos Aires. Each case has accompanying photos. 1998.

(52 K)

(16 K)

Urban Solutions
(76 K)

Use of Case Studies
(52 K)

The Nine Individual Case Studies

Reforestation in Rio's Favelas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(208 K)
Describes planting of edible fruits and vegetables to provide nutrition and prevent erosion on steep hillsides of squatter areas. This was the first municipal program to offer community participants, and allow local leaders to manage the work and distribution of funds. Chapter 4, 27 pages.

Urban Greening in Bidara Cina, Jakarta, Indonesia
(88 K)
Shows how local leaders, residents, and children in a dense slum area improved quality of life in their settlement by participating in communal planting projects and creating a garden, along with washing and toilet facilities, on a former garbage dump when federal initiative failed. Chapter 5, 17 pages.

Urban Market Gardens, Accra, Ghana
(112 K)
Shows how migrant workers used marginal land within the city to create vegetable gardens and generated income through the sale of their produce. Chapter 6, 26 pages.

Zabbaleen Environment & Development Program, Cairo, Egypt
(116 K)
Started by a non-profit group, this multi-faceted project transformed the historically stigmatized "caste" of trash collectors into entrepreneurs, using waste products as resources for dozens of micro-enterprises, investing the income in schooling for children and upgrading the squatter settlement housing and infrastructure. Chapter 7, 27 pages.

Recycling Urban Waste, Mexico City, Mexico
(104 K)
Describes how "SIRDO," a low cost community-based recycling program, failed to work in low income areas, while succeeding in middle class neighborhoods. Chapter 8, 23 pages.

New Culture of Urban Sanitation (CORO), Mumbai (Bombay), India (112 K)
Documents community-led hygiene and literacy campaigns that spurred an increase in the efficiency of waste management in Bombay’s slums. Chapter 9, 24 pages.

Environmental Benefits Program, New York City, USA (MCP-018G) (116 K)
Shows how a low income community organized to track down industrial and city polluters, insured collection of state and federal fines for infractions, and got the fees turned over to pay for pollution monitoring. Chapter 10, 25 pages.

Action for Securing Health for All, (ASHA) Delhi, India (116 K)
Describes an initiative of local women, reacting to an outbreak of cholera, who organized their community to undertake preventative health care measures including improving water quality and waste disposal. Chapter 11, 27 pages.

The PAIS Plan: Food, Organization, & Self-Employment for the Poor, Buenos Aires, Argentina (116 K)
Offers choices and a means of political organization and advocacy to previously ignored groups addressing the issues of cooperative food growing and distribution. Chapter 12, 26 pages.

Case Studies in the United States

The National Audubon Society Headquarters: A Model for the "Green Building" of the Future, New York City, U.S.A. (48 K)
The National Audobon Society's new environmentally responsible "green building" integrates environmentally safe materials, low energy use systems, and a building-wide recycling chute system in its eco-friendly and cost-effective design. 11 pages.

The New York City Toilet Rebate Program: Economic Incentives for Water Conservation, New York City, U.S.A. (36 K)
Innovative solution to New York City's rising water conservation problem offers a financial incentive to home and multi-family building owners to replace old toilets with modern, low-flow toilets. 6 pages.

Project Eco-School: Youth Teaching Youth to Care for the Environment, Los Angeles, U.S.A. (32 K)
Uses students as educators and role models, it can be employed as a supplementary curriculum within the classroom or as an extracurricular activity. The main premise is that widespread awareness of environmental issues can be achieved by educating our youth and mobilizing them to train others. 5 pages.

The Small Business Toxics Minimization Project: Teaming Up Retired Engineers With Businesses to Improve the Environment, Los Angeles, U.S.A. (36 K)
Formed as a pilot project at the Board of Public Works in 1988, this low cost project aims to show small business entrepreneurs how they can comply with environmental standards while at the same time improving their bottom line profit. 6 pages.

Hope LA Horticultural Corps: Transforming Vacant Land and Building a Future for Youth
Los Angeles, U.S.A.
(32 K)
An inner city program demonstrates to predominantly African-Ameican and Latino youth that scientific knowledge throught urban agro-forestry can have practical applications to everyday life. 5 pages.

Lessons Learned

Crosscutting Themes and Lessons Learned
(60 K)
The innovative attempts at addressing poverty and environmental degradation described in each of these case studies offer important insights and lessons for more creative and cost-effective urban development strategies. 10 pages.

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Rio Re-StudyEnvironmental JusticeInternational Transfers
Urban LeadershipConceptual/Analytical


The Mega-Cities Project is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status.
Founder and President: Janice Perlman, PhD. Information:
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