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Why we need a socially just response to climate change - Julia Unwin, Joseph Rowntree Foundation


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Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, shares insights from the Foundation's 'climate change and social justice' programme and reflects on the role voluntary and community organisations can play to ensure reponses to climate change are effective and fair. This keynote presentation was delivered at the concluding workshop of NCVO's 'vulnerable people and climate change' project on 19 February 2013:

You can listen to an audio-recording of this presentation online (starting on slide 5):

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Why we need a socially just response to climate change - Julia Unwin, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

  1. 1. Why we need a socially just response to climate changeJulia Unwin, CBE, Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  2. 2. Why we need a socially just response toclimate change1. Joseph Rowntree Foundation2. Why does this matter for the voluntary sector?3. The issues?4. JRF research?5. JRHT practice?6. Conclusions
  3. 3. Role and focus of Joseph Rowntree Foundation Mission: lasting change for POVERTY: people and places in To identify the root OUR WORK THEMES poverty, communities causes of poverty where everyone can thrive and injustice Search: and a more equal society. causes of social PLACE: problems To support resilient communities where Influence: people thrive policy and practice AGEING SOCIETY: To respond Demonstrate: positively to the solutions opportunities and challenges of an ageing society
  4. 4. Why does climate change & social justicematter for VCS? Motive Method Message
  5. 5. What are the issues?
  6. 6. Key issues of concern• Protection• Risk• Opportunity• A just transition?
  7. 7. Dimensions of social justice Distributional justice: climate impacts and responses will have varied impacts which could increase inequality Procedural justice: whose voice is heard in decisions, who decides what action is taken? Inter and intra-generational justice: implications of responses today for future generations JRF focus on vulnerable and people facing poverty and disadvantage
  8. 8. What work is JRF doing? Climate change and social justice programme 2009-12, c.£1m• Research on impacts• Examining policy responses on mitigation and adaptation to ensure protection• Supporting innovation
  9. 9. Learning from JRF research - who isvulnerable to climate change?• Dynamic social and spatial issue (changes over people’s lives)• Personal, social and environmental factors• Climate disadvantage = the likelihood & degree of exposure to a hazard e.g. flooding/heatwave combined with vulnerability• Resilience opposite to vulnerability? Ability to prepare Adaptive Exposure Sensitivity Exposure Ability to respond capacity (Enhanced) Ability to recover Vulnerability
  10. 10. Important factors affecting vulnerabilityAdaptive Capacity Sensitivity Enhanced ExposureLow income Age (very young & Neighbourhood elderly) characteristics (green/blue space)Tenure: ability to modify Health status: illness Housing characteristics: (e.gliving environment basement/ high rise/ single storey buildings)Mobility and access to Special care Buildings (ventilation/coolservices spaces)Social isolation Homeless, tourists, High housing density transient groupsInformation and localknowledgeAccess to insurance
  11. 11. Flood disadvantagein England• Some areas have both high socio spatial vulnerability and high potential exposure to flooding• Urban and coastal areas particularly vulnerable• Most flood disadvantaged region is Yorkshire & Humber (ie social vulnerability coincides with high likelihood of flooding)
  12. 12. What makes a resilient community? Vibrant communities • People shop outside neighbourhood High adaptive capacity • Decreased employment • Changes in economic status • Loss of skills• Increase in capacity • Changes in social network building• Increase in networks and partnerships• Strategic long term view Stressed community• Respect cultural values • Support services leave and diversity • Demographics change• Create opportunities • Skills reduce • Participation to find shared • Changes in equity• Celebrate achievements vision • Link with external resources and services – creating networksGood Life project • Awareness, sense of Non-vibrant communities –After Paul Ryan belonging, ownership Low adaptive capacity( • Leadership capacity building • Increase skills and knowledge
  13. 13. How is JRHT responding to the challenge?In established areas…(New Earswick, York) ….and new communities (Derwenthorpe, York)?
  14. 14. Good Life Initiative, New Earswick, York• Supporting community resilience with JRHT residents in York – awareness – networks – connections between community and landlord on sustainability – skills• Activities: – initial series of activities and events – nature, tree planting, fruit picking – work with school, Jo-Rio summit – work with JRHT on housing emissions• Currently assessing progress/legacy
  15. 15. Messages from JRF research…• Compounded injustice in relation to climate change in UK – Low income households who contribute least to problem (lowest emissions) may also be… – Among worst effected by climate change impacts – Pay more and benefit less from responses to it (through energy bills & measures) – Have least voice in decisions• Poverty is an important factor increasing vulnerability• To support resilience, need to build adaptive capacity – to prepare, respond and recover from climate impacts
  16. 16. Conclusions: Just responses to climatechange from the voluntary sector … Protection Voice Resilience
  17. 17.