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While education is expected to play a significant role in responding to global social challenges, sustainable development discourses often fail to attend to issues of pedagogy, purpose and process. In this paper, we argue that one way to focus arguments on educational practice is through considerations of the relationship between education as justice and education for justice. We do this through discussing one form of justice in education – epistemic justice – and developing our conceptualisation of an epistemic core. Drawing on Elmore’s instructional core, this includes openness to students’ experiences and the place where they live, rich pedagogies and a broad range of epistemic resources. We argue that this is one way that secondary education’s contribution to sustainable and just futures could be made more concretely possible.

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Understanding how today’s children will act in the future is essential to education supporting sustainable development. This study investigated how students in three contexts in Nepal, Peru and Uganda understand environmental, epistemic and transitional justice. It used a tablet-based app to present students with scenarios that illustrates different attitudes, experiences and intended actions with respect to these three forms of justice and analysed responses to focus on factors related to intended actions. The analysis suggests that both attitudes and experiences are important in shaping intended actions in the future. Thus, education systems should not only develop attitudes to support sustainable development, but also exemplify and embody socially justice practices, providing students with experience of social contexts that support sustainable development.

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This paper offers a novel analysis of how Nepal is delivering its commitment to secondary education provision that is advancing environmental sustainability, tracing a trajectory that begins with national policies relating to environmental sustainability and incorporating the national curriculum framework, textbooks, pedagogies used in classrooms, and learner experiences and anticipated actions. We consider Nepal’s education about and for environmental sustainability in the context of theories of environmental justice, and question if and how secondary provision might promote the behavioural change that Nepal recognises is vital for environmental sustainability. Qualitative data were generated through policy analysis, critical content analysis of secondary-level curriculum and textbooks, classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with 15 teachers and 4 headteachers, and a range of in-person activities with 24 students in purposively selected four community secondary schools in the three diverse locations across Nepal. The results illuminate pronounced disconnections across modalities that indicate incoherence and unresolved debates in the underlying narrative of what environmental sustainability is and the role of education in addressing it. Our findings suggest that learners’ ideas, opinions, thinking and experiences should be encouraged and celebrated in the classroom to aid learners in translating conceptual learning into practical, sustainable behaviours, as well as to contribute to environmental justice. The findings appeal to the concerned stakeholders for their consideration of future policy and programme development that promotes environmental justice through education and establishes a connection between classroom learning and students’ lived experiences through a participatory approach, collaboration, and critical and creative thinking.

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All international agreements recognise that sustainable development, equity and poverty alleviation are preconditions for the substantial societal and technological transformations required to limit global warming to 1.5°C. A growing body of literature indicates that while climate change undermines the progress of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate actions also pose several trade-offs with them. Climate adaptation has a largely synergistic relationship with SDGs across various socio-economic contexts. However, climate mitigation’s relationship with SDGs is far more complex. While the need to decarbonise is universal, the pathways to deliver deep decarbonisation vary across contexts and scales and are located within the local socio-economic realities besides local environmental factors. This paper argues that (1) climate mitigation measures in countries like India – with rising income inequality and high social diversity in caste, religion and region – need a tailored assessment approach, (2) carefully mediating climate mitigation measures – like deep decarbonisation – at the local level is crucial to enable transformative change required to meet the Paris Agreement and the UN Agenda 2030, (3) enabling ‘just’ deep decarbonisation or SDG-enabled decarbonisation at the local level requires addressing unmet needs of the vulnerable population even at the cost of increased emissions, and (4) sector-specific decarbonisation strategies at the national level must be translated into the local area’s social, economic, environmental and institutional realities. This paper grounds this approach using the example of the transport sector and applies it in a mid-sized city of India, Udaipur, to illustrate the argument.

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This piece elaborates on a ‘new way of thinking’ (Einstein, 1946) that would contribute to overcoming the challenge of climate change and its impacts. This ‘new way’ will have us go beyond using facts and figures alone to persuade and cajole. It will have us stretching our moral imagination (Johnson, 2016) and empathising with people very different from ourselves. It will have us investing in processes of exchange which support the co-creation of knowledge and the future we want together.

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To achieve the dual goals of minimising global pollution and meeting diverse demands for environmental justice, energy transitions need to involve not only a shift to renewable energy sources but also the safe decommissioning of older energy infrastructures and management of their toxic legacies. While the global scale of the decommissioning challenge is yet to be accurately quantified, the climate impacts are significant: each year, more than an estimated 29 million abandoned oil and gas wells around the world emit 2.5 million tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In the US alone, at least 14 million people live within a mile of an abandoned oil or gas well, creating pollution that is concentrated among low-income areas and communities of colour. The costs involved in decommissioning projects are significant, raising urgent questions about responsibility and whether companies who have profited from the sale of extracted resources will be held liable for clean-up, remediation and management costs. Recognising these political goals and policy challenges, this article invites further research, scrutiny and debate on what would constitute the successful and safe decommissioning of sites affected by fossil fuel operations – with a particular focus on accountability, environmental inequality, the temporality of energy transitions, and strategies for phasing out or phasing down fossil fuel extraction.

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This panel discussion session explores some of the central dimensions of the Crisis in the Anthropocene that constitute global social challenges in the context of development studies. The conference theme highlighted the profound human impact on our blue-green-brown planet, that is already breaching planetary boundaries and pushing us beyond the roughly 1.5°C tipping point. This threatens liveability and sustainability in many localities and regions and may well rapidly be ‘off the scale’ of imaginability and survivability. Inevitably, as mounting empirical evidence and increasingly clear projections by the IPCC and other authoritative bodies show, these impacts are unevenly spread, both socially and spatially, both now and over the coming decades. The urgency of appropriate action is undeniable and we already know many dimensions of the required adaptations and transformations. Yet progress mostly remains too slow. These challenges are vital to the development studies community – heterogenous as it is – with our concerns for tackling poverty, inequality, deprivation and environmental degradation globally and locally.

Hence this symposium asks what the crisis means for development theory, policy and practice and what development studies can and should be contributing to – and, indeed, whether it is capable of – addressing some key dimensions that warrant greater attention.

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In early 2022, over 30 years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first report on the challenges posed by climate change and four subsequent Assessment Reports later, the word ‘colonialism’ finally entered its official lexicon. The sixth report on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’  references colonialism, not only as a historical driver of the climate crisis, but also as something that continues to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of communities to it (IPCC, 2022). As Funes (2022) argues, this comes in the wake of long-standing arguments made by Indigenous groups and others on the frontline of climate change about the centrality of colonialism to comprehending and responding to the crisis. The last decade has also seen a significant increase in scholarly literature that draws explicit links between colonialism and climate change – much of which is referenced in the latest IPCC report. While formal acknowledgement of this relationship is long overdue, in this article we argue for caution and precision in the invocation of colonialism within these debates. Following Tuck and Yang’s (2012) classic article setting out why ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’, we argue relatedly that colonialism needs to be understood as more than a metaphor in climate change debates.

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The term polycrisis has recently gained much interest in academia and policy-making circles as a perspective to understand the nature of ‘overlapping emergencies’ – geopolitical, ecological, pandemics and economic – that are disrupting policy and politics in the Global North and South. How do we understand the nature of these new forms of crisis? This provocation argues that polycrisis, while a good descriptive term for the overlapping emergencies that characterise the current conjecture, should be analysed in terms of the larger crisis of capitalist social reproduction. The polycrisis needs to be understood as a political crisis that arises from a contradiction between social reproduction and the crisis of capital accumulation. It leads to increasing authoritarian statist forms as well as the growing resistance and dissent that is a feature of the broken politics of time and distinguishes the multiple intersecting crises of the 21st century.

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This chapter adopts a perspective of justice as recognition to explore how communities, institutions, and local governments might play new, active roles in an energy transition. It highlights examples of community energy projects, reflecting on the complexity of the term and the wide variety of community-centred energy transitions. The chapter moves to detail the history of community-centred energy in the UK, highlighting processes that have both supported and stymied these schemes. Drawing on the example of the re-municipalisation of energy in Germany, it highlights the active role that local government might take in an energy transition, as well as reflecting on how this role can be hindered through the case of Bristol Energy. The chapter argues for the development of direct links between renewable energy schemes and the broader transformation of local and regional economies. It ends by detailing the third rule for a just energy transition: foregrounding community-centred energy projects in local goals of community wealth-building.

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