Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

David VanderZwaag


Unless subjected to skeptical and conscious scrutiny, environmentally-friendly ocean energy technologies can become Trojan machines of social inequity due to the subtle re-organizing influences of technologies on culture and the society. Environmental laws that promote or regulate ocean energy technologies can act as Trojan legal regimes in the absence of a framework for assessing and anticipating their adverse impacts on social justice. Environmental justice is inadequate for this task, so an alternative framework is proposed: ecological social justice, drawn from the Third Worlds perspective of sustainable development as equitable sharing. Though overshadowed by the prevalent notion of sustainable development as limits to growth, a review of international environmental law shows that the ideas of equitable sharing have persisted, underpinning demands for more equitable distribution of resources and environmental amenities, greater public participation in decision-making, and special attention in favor of specified social groups. Beginning with the critiques of environmental justice and then drawing upon a substantivist view of the role of the Economy as an ecological link between Society and Nature, a sketch of ecological social justice is drawn. The assessment of whether specific legal regimes or their implementation promote or hinder social justice revolve around three focal points: distribution, recognition, and participation, and pay special attention to the role of culture and power in society. The assessment also incorporates and emphasizes the local conception of social justice in order to remain true to its ecological character. To demonstrate, the paper conducts detailed case studies of the Philippines. The 1987 Constitution established a right to environment as a result of the historical evolution of a constitutional policy of promoting social justice, This caused Philippine environmental and ocean resource laws to incorporate provisions that promote ecological social justice. Analysis of Philippine ocean environment and energy laws and two internationally-recognized ocean energy projects reveals insights into how even the most environmentally-friendly but complex technologies can lead to domination and oppression, and how guiding ideals of equitable sharing at the local levels can lead to more socially-just solutions.