I like the opening essay in the latest issue of Restorative Justice: An International Journal by Elmar Weitekamp and Stephan Parmentier. It argues that if we are to define just one core value of restorative justice, this is healing.

Of course, to be healing, restorative justice needs to be relational, reparative, procedurally fair, nurturant of apology and forgiveness— along with various other things that are important in the restorative values literature.

A neglected virtue of healing as the most distinctive core value of restorative justice is that it nicely accommodates restoration of the environment.

The restorative justice research community has devoted little attention to the way environmental agencies such as the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency have started to use restorative justice conferences in communities afflicted with environmental damage.
The 2014 British Enforcement and Sanctions Guidance document for the Environment Agency introduced a Restoration Notice. This can mean simply a notice to remove and safely dispose of waste, an anti-pollution works notice or a remediation order.

Theoretically, my 2002 book Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation reads this as both theoretically coherent and consistent with the OECD’s 2014 International Best Practice Principles: Improving Regulatory Enforcement and Inspections. One of these principles is that “Enforcement should be based on responsive regulation”. This is also linked to the growing evidence that both restorative justice and responsive regulation are not panaceas but do tend to improve compliance with the law (Braithwaite 2014

[1]) and that restorative justice tends to reinforce responsive regulation, and vice versa.

The best discussion of both the British Environment Agency and the OECD 2014 principles on enforcement is Christopher Hodges (2015) Law and Corporate Behaviour: Integrating Theories of Regulation, Enforcement, Compliance and Ethics. I have a forthcoming review of this book in the Sydney Law Review.

Another relevant observation is that there is a Restorative Cities movement internationally that is about planting trees, arboretums, parks, green buildings and environmental stewardship all the way along supply chains from raw materials to production to waste. Of course there is also a seemingly different Restorative Cities movement of which our beloved Canberra is a leading part along with Hull, Leeds, Whanganui and other cities, and an international learning network for restorative communities led by Jennifer Llewellyn of Dalhousie University in Halifax. The latter form of restorative community is about restorative justice and restorative practices. Prison Fellowship International played the germinal role in planting this restorative cities movement and the International Institute for Restorative Practices also showed great leadership in promoting it and training to enable it internationally.

Perhaps the restorative justice conception of a restorative city and the green Restorative City movements should be brought together given that both are about healing: healing people and healing environments in order to heal people and all other living things?

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[1] updated in 2016 and available online soon