Skip to main content

Redefining who matters: institutionalising multi-species justice

In a time of environmental crisis and heightened social and political tension, a panel of SEI experts call for institutionalising justice for all species through key areas of innovation such as international laws on ecocide and the expansion of personhood beyond humans.

The idea of multi-species justice challenges fundamental understandings about who counts, to whom responsibility is owed and how societies ought to be organised in the face of environmental and climate crisis. 

To make a real difference, however, multi-species justice needs to be taken up in actual institutional and social transformation, particularly at a time where we are witnessing heightened social and political conflict as well as significant regressive moves in democracy and social justice across the world. 

This panel discussion will reflect on the challenges of institutionalising multi-species justice at a historical moment characterised by both a burning desire to bring about radical change and concerted efforts to wind change back. The speakers will consider key sites of innovation including international laws on ecocide, the expansion of personhood beyond the human, judicial interventions, and democratic experiments. We aspire to provoke a lively discussion about how to navigate a path between inspiring transformative ideals and challenging political realities.

This event was presented online on 22 June 2022.

Listen to the podcast


Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, and Deputy Director – Academic of the Sydney Environment Institute. Her books include Sins of the Nation and the Ritual of Apology (Cambridge University Press 2009), A Cultural Theory of Law in the Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2018), and The Prevention of Torture: An Ecological Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is Director of the Multispecies Justice Project and along with her multispecies community, she has recently lived through the NSW fires, writing in the face of their experience of the “killing of everything”, which she calls “omnicide”. She is the Research Lead on Concepts and Practices of Multispecies Justice.

David Schlosberg is Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute. His work focuses on contemporary environmental and environmental justice movements, environment and everyday life, and climate adaptation planning and policy. He is the author of Defining Environmental Justice (Oxford, 2007); co-author of Climate-Challenged Society (Oxford, 2013); and co-editor of both The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (Oxford 2011), and The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory (Oxford 2016). His latest book, Sustainable Materialism: Environmental Movements and the Politics of Everyday Life, was published by Oxford. He is one of the Research Leads on Climate Justice and Problems of Scale, Creating Just Food and Energy PolicyEnvironmental Disasters and Just GovernanceBuilding an Understanding of Best Practice Local Food InterventionsCommunity Engagement in Food Governance and Evaluating FoodLab Sydney.

Christine Winter is a Senior Lecturer in the Politics Program at the University of Otago Te Whare Whānanga o Ōtākou and a research affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute. Her research focuses on the ways in which justice theory perpetuates practices of domination, oppression and violence in the settler states broadly and specifically for Māori of Aotearoa New Zealand. Her key areas of interest are multispecies, environmental, intergenerational and climate justice. 

Nicole Rogers was one of the founding members of the School of Law and Justice at Southern Cross University and is a 2022 Visiting Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute. She is the author of Law, Fiction and Activism in a Time of Climate Change (Routledge, 2019) and Law, Climate Emergency and the Australian Megafires (Routledge, 2021), and co-editor of Law as if Earth Really Mattered: the Wild Law Judgment Project (Routledge, 2017). Law, Fiction and Activism in a Time of Climate Change was shortlisted for the international 2020 Hart-SLSA book prize and the 2020 inaugural Australian Legal Research Book Award.

Erin Fitz-Henry is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and the Development Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and a 2022 Visiting Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute. She works primarily on transnational social movements, with a particular interest in the global movement for the rights of nature in Ecuador, the United States, and Australia. Her recent ethnographic work has focused on the use of these rights in contexts of large-scale resource extraction.

Header image: Middle Fork, near North Bend, WA by Dave Hoefler via Unsplash.