Environmental justice is a social movement seeking to achieve the fair and equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens associated with economic production. The environmental justice movement began in the United States in the 1980s and was heavily influenced by the American civil rights movement. It has generated a large interdisciplinary body of social science literature that includes theories of the environment and justice, environmental laws and their implementations, environmental policy, sustainability, and political ecology.
The original conception of environmental justice in the 1980s focused on harms to certain marginalized racial groups within rich countries such as the United States. The movement was later expanded to more completely consider gender, international environmental discrimination, and inequalities within disadvantaged groups. As the movement achieved some success in developed and affluent countries, environmental burdens have been shifted to the Global South. The movement for environmental justice has thus become more global, with some of its aims now being articulated by the United Nations