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Comparison of Perspectives on Environmental, Nation Building, and Citizenship

Significant progress has been observed within the fabric of many societies as they endeavor to build their nation through good citizenship. The act of nation building commences when people become independent in their own country while environmental conservation is essential for the sustenance of the state’s resources. An uncontaminated environment enhances people’s happiness, as well as their sense of belonging. The right of a state to enjoy territorial sovereignty entails certain duties in relation to the citizens, and these are connected to the real or potential environmental victims (Williams, 2013). Attaining citizenship is a collective goal, rather than an individual preference. Justice and development are varied conceptions in any country, and are exemplified by multiple perspectives. This study will endeavor to link the environment, nation building, and citizenship in the practice of justice and development of states.

Environmental Perspective and Justice

Awareness of environmental issues is fundamental for the development of the state, and such awareness has been on the rise in the past decade. Individuals, as well as industries have increased their consciousness for the need to act conscientiously in conserving the world through applying the standards of sustainable development. The love of land has been a critical ingredient of nationalism as well as nation building, and has contributed in the efforts meant to shape the living environment. Environmental justice ensures that people enjoy rights to clean the environment, in addition to minimum industrial pollution. It involves fair treatment and consequential involvement of all citizens without considering their color, national origin, race, and income, while laying emphasis on development and implementation of environmental laws and policies. The environmental aspect of citizenship is perceived as an extension of the right action, and the right not to subject individuals to environmental hazards and threats (Galbreath, 2010).

The environmental perspective ensures that there is no limit to economic, social, as well as environmental opportunities available for future generations. The uneven exposure to environmental hazards among residents living in low-income regions has remained a serious challenge for the advancement of safety and health for citizens (White, Hall & Johnson, 2014). The vulnerability of minority groups intensifies environmental health disparities. The state has a responsibility to ensure that citizens have the access to national resources, which enhance their survival.

A few scholars have managed to develop an association between environmentalism and nation building. According to Primoratz & Pavkovic (2007), ecological sustainability and justice necessitate eradication of ecological risks, in addition to avoiding unwarranted externalization through space and time. The relationship between indigenous rural communities and their land resources is quite influential, as it dates back to their ancestral origin. The rural community in Melanesia has enjoyed special ties with their land, which they believe to be their mark of identity, and have the authority to influence its use (Ballard, 1997). Land is perceived as the basis of nationality, as well as a means to create contest between two communities.

The establishment of environmental conservation ministry by various state governments is an illustration of sensitivity in dealing with global challenges that inhibit nation building and good citizenship. The main aspiration of every citizen is to live in a comfortable environment that is free from pollution and threats of war. Such environments should also be sustainable to meet the needs of the current generation without jeopardizing the capacity of the future generations in satisfying their needs.  

Environmental issues define how citizens can promote nation building through sharing of resources equally. Overlooking the political complexity concerning the rural communities is an injustice to their aspirations, since they are the agents of the governments and states. The predicaments of confronting the Melanesian governments due to their negligence in natural resource allocation is an issue of authenticity and national identity, which can affect economic development of the region (Ballard, 1997). Environmental sponsors and resource developers rely on rural communities for environmental programs and economic development of the state.

Nation Building

The debate surrounding nation building tends to revolve around the nation itself. Nation building involves establishment of a national identity through exercising the supremacy of the state. The main aim of nation building is to unify people within the national boundaries in order to enhance long-term political stability. Attaining territorial control is a form of nation building, where poverty reduction, enhancement of safety and security, ability to control public resources, and matters of sustenance are the major themes of the government. Almost half of the world’s population survives without the protection by the law, making the aspect of nation building quite challenging. According to White (2007), governance involves application of transparency and accountability in monitoring and evaluation of resources flow within the national borders. Most developing states inherited bureaucratic administration from the Western countries to enhance their political culture.

Nation building necessitates good governance to assure people of their legal and human rights. To facilitate good governance, new public management is critical. Environmental justice usually seeks self-determination, as well as territorial self-administration, but sovereignty is not preferable for achieving environmentalism. Nation building is associated with environmental consciousness when people are concerned with protecting their territory through conserving environment. Protecting the nation can be termed as nation building, as the need to attain sovereignty is created while an emphasis is placed on nationalistic discourse. However, the case of the Estonian Heritage Society demonstrated that the line between protecting a nation and promoting the nation is likely to be blurred (Galbreath, 2010). The course for nation building veers away from being environmental, as sovereignty endangers the global aspiration of environmentalism. At this point, liberal and environmental justice can longer be at the same level.

In the process of nation building, politics stops being a struggle over allotment of sovereign powers to a struggle for the sharing of the national product, as well as policies that guide on distribution and administration. According to the UN, the world’s development priorities as proposed from 2015 to 2030 include strengthening of justice to enhance development in each country (Chapman, 2014). The UN supported negotiations that emphasized justice for all, as a means to attain sustainable development goals. Thus, for countries that have embarked on nation building, recognizing the role of civil society, as well as the common citizens in enhancing sustainable development is extremely essential.

Nation building also comprises of resistance to Western imperialism and colonialism, and developing mechanisms that ensure people have access to the national resources without discrimination and political interference. A sovereign state has an established structure of taxation and investment, which ensures adequate revenue to run various departments (Tilly, 2005). For instance, Kazakstan has massive potential wreath, which include oil reserves, minerals, and commercial grains. Although Kazakstan is multi-ethnic, with people from mixed ancestry, the country has managed to distribute its resources equitably since independent to satisfy its citizens. 

Nation building applies social change to attain its objectives. Social change involves such terms as industrialization, modernization, as well as development, as a nation endeavor to satisfy its population. Industrialization involves economic changes resulting from continuous development through technology while modernization is social and political transformations that accompany industrialization as observed in the Western civilization. Modernization ensures that resource allocation is efficient while decentralization of government departments is the platform in resource redistribution. In Europe, communities that embarked on nation building accepted that changing the language landscape was the key to achieve their ambitions (Hogan-Brun & Wright, 2013). The rise of nationalism became obvious that the need for one language was necessary to enhance industrialization and modernization.

However, lack of economic stability has affected the aspect on nation building, as poor states cannot offer adequate resources to guarantee continuous development and legal justice. Constructivist scholars have underlined the aspects of imagined and invented nature of nations through nationalism, where nations are allowed to direct their own destiny by fostering policies that encourage collectivism. Limitations to decentralization also inhibit resource allocation, thus, restraining the state’s capacity to attend to its citizens effectively. Nation building is an environmental aspect that ensures economic development and environmental justice.

Citizenship as Compared to the Environmental Perspective and Nation Building

Citizenship is usually termed as an association between the state and individuals, as the state attempts to control the movement of people within the borders. Each state is expected to take care of its citizens as the first priority, before considering citizens of other countries. Citizenship of each country is guided by a constitution, as no sovereign state exists without the rule of law. Each country’s constitution underlines three aspects, which include the population that is supposed to live according to its provisions; an international community that guide the country’s leaders; and a selection of people responsible for running the country (Tilly, 2005). To ensure justice and development in a state, citizens need an assurance that outsiders do not exploit their actions and efforts in the form of neocolonialism. Neocolonialism is a condition where a powerful political entities exercise economic and cultural power over the weaker countries (Lawson, 2010).

The constitution incorporates rights and obligations for every person living in a state, but most of the information target citizens alone. According to Tilly (2005), an effective constitution enables citizens to enjoy numerous rights, which include:

  1. Changing citizenship
  2. Not to be extradited, except through international treaty
  3. Access to information concerning the citizen’s rights, as well as interests
  4. State’s protection, as well as investment outside its boundaries
  5. To establish associations, such as trade unions, political parties and religious groups
  6. Provision of affordable housing
  7. Legal ownership of property
  8. Free secondary education, and access to higher education trough competition
  9. Protection of health and preservation of natural resources
  10. Electing, or being elected to public offices

The concepts of citizenship, which include participation, as well as accountability, are both political and technical. They demonstrate power struggle and voice. Guaranteeing citizens access to information can enhance their contribution towards nation building, in addition to promoting environmental conservation. The use of the term “Pacific Way” by Sir Kamisese Mara, the Fiji’s Prime Minister in 1970 during the UN General Assembly marked a transition from colonialism to independence, where the island states embraced collective political identity that denounced colonial practices (Lawson, 2010). A move toward sovereignty assures citizens of political stability, justice, and overall development in their country. Western colonialism has been blamed for facilitating oppression among citizens, in addition to disrespect to the rights of the minorities. The claim of land has demonstrated infringement of human rights while establishing authority over land contributed to independence.

Postcolonial theory has claimed to comprise of a counter-hegemonic discussion, which contributed to the critique of colonialism, as well as its mechanisms of domination and control. Postcolonial theory protects very diverse conceptualizations of culture and discrimination (Andreotti, 2011). Some critics argued that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are agents of recolonization, as they spread Western culture to non-Western countries. On the contrary, such perception ignored the concept of promoting citizenship through international development organizations, who are concerned with development and stability of independent states. Weber’s argument was that the ancient India caste was an impediment to the advancement of citizenship-as confraternization, and that citizenship activities emerged through British colonization (Freeden & Vincent, 2013).

The situation of citizenship after independence has been restrained by the government institutions, as well as practices that states inherited from their colonial masters, where some ideas are considered less civilized by the authority (Hansen & Stepputat, 2005). The relationship between colonial states and the indigenous population resulted to localized authoritarian rule, leading to discrimination in terms of gender. Women’s struggle for equality and citizenship are aimed at aligning gender justice with human rights, as well as the reinstallation of democracy. Most countries that practice authoritarian rule inhibit women’s contribution to good citizenship. Although decision-making politics has remained under male supremacy, women are perceived as drivers of change, as they build peace through social movement (Mingol, 2013). Allowing women to enjoy rights as men is essential in the development of a country and nation building.

Contracts of citizenship have experienced problems as marital, commercial, or even intellectual contracts. However, the western citizenship does not support large centralized states, but encourages smaller units the size of municipalities for greater viability. State consolidation has weakened citizenship considerably for those who have embraced smaller scale. For states that lack regional citizenship, the organization of national citizenship brought momentous gains in rights at the expense of extended responsibilities to national authorities. According to Hindness, Marshall and other social analysts argued that the state should ensure that citizens are allowed to participate on matters concerning their lives to eliminate poverty, ill health, and illiteracy (Hansen & Stepputat, 2005).

Perceiving citizenship as a function of internal relations is incomplete, as citizens constitute the global population. Citizens should be perceived as a fraction of a “supranational governmental regime in which the systems of states, international agencies and multinational corporations all play a fundamental role” (Hansen & Stepputat, 2005, p. 242). Citizenship authorizes an enforceable claim that categorizes people as agents of governments. Thus, citizenship incorporates a contract that depends on unspecified assumptions, but modified by practice. Citizenship draws a visible line between people living inside the country and those who reside outside the country. However, the contract of citizenship differs from other contracts because it involves the whole categories of persons instead of individuals, and it engages the government’s coercive power directly. However, people living in incomplete state, such as Papua New Guinea, do not qualify as citizens because they do not enjoy limited access to national resources (Nelson, 2006). 

Indigenous people have never been orientalized openly but they tend to act like people without political partisanship. Some scholars perceive indigenous citizenship as contradiction due to integration of exogenous institutions into societies where such concepts are hostile to indigenous practices (Freeden & Vincent, 2013). Indigenous people were quite sensitive on land issues, as land ownership demonstrated their national identity. In Papua New Guinea, tribal groups and clans were allowed to possess land as a sign of citizenship and rights to exploit land to their satisfaction (Weiner & Glaskin, 2007). Thus, lack of land ownership rights can inhibit nation building, as well as environmental conservation because landless people encounter difficulties while accessing justice. Development is a rare concept among landless people.


Environmental perspectives, nation building, and citizenship have common characteristics, which make them fundamental in attaining justice and development in a state. Land is the most essential commodity in the creation of a sovereign state, as it indicates identity and ownership. Environmental hazards are limitations that restrain people from contributing towards nation building. State sovereignty happens when communities are capable of managing their own resources without external interference. People acquire national identity when they have resources that ensure their survival while justice ensures that no individual breaks the state laws that guide on environmental conservation. The relationship between citizens and state is guided by the Constitution while efficient utilization of resources is fundamental for economic development of a state. Thus, justice and development can be attained when citizens are independent and capable of building their country through practicing environmental awareness.


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