Topic 12:  Social justice and equity

Submitted by Robin Hocquet | published 30th Aug 2021 | last updated 13th Sep 2021

Background: The KE4CAP Synthesis Report

This topic page forms a chapter of the KE4CAP Synthesis Report, which brings together learning from across KE4CAP's activities, including five virtual knowledge exchange events, three bilateral knowledge exchange event series, and the KE4CAP Survey (see Further Resources for links to relevant pages). The KE4CAP project is providing a global forum for developers and operators of climate adaptation knowledge platforms (CAPs) to come together to share knowledge and best practices, and to work together to address common and emerging challenges.

This early summary (September 2021) aims to provide food for thought for the KE4CAP Synthesis Workshop and will be followed by a more detailed and further illustrated synthesis report (and further developed topic pages) in December 2021.

Introduction

Adaptation tools and solutions can be more effective, culturally sensitive, and sustainable when the social contexts and root causes of vulnerability are included in their design and implementation. To mainstream adaptation, social justice and equity must be brought to the fore and this topic focuses on how platforms can help identify and give a voice to those who are not well represented within the climate change adaptation arena. This includes identifying practices and challenges around how to use platforms to enhance inclusivity, how to understand the needs and capacities of under-represented groups and how to help overcome the barriers that inhibit their ability to act.

Lessons Learnt

Current practices

  • Outreach and engagement. Targeted strategies to engage with and better understand the needs of under-represented and vulnerable groups are being developed and implemented by platforms leading to the co-production of tailored products to help drive implementation.
  • Improved content accessibility. Providing case studies conducted by local experts, translation of scientific knowledge into appropriate languages, the use of infographics and videos that meet the needs of specific target groups and, crucially, making data open-access and freely available.
  • Balancing in-person and digital activities. Building trust and relationships is seen as crucial in developing and sustaining strong engagement. This can take considerable time; in-person approaches are often key.

Selected innovations  

NRCan (Canada) has partnered with Royal Roads University to better understand what a robust CAP requires in terms of delivery to improve social justice and equity. Critical to improving adaptation outcomes is a meaningful and sustained engagement that ultimately helps empower previously less-engaged communities to be part of the overall process.

Many platform teams are taking specific training in social justice and equity issues to help increase awareness and understanding, whilst others are introducing more flexible, inclusive and culturally-sensitive governance and finance structures. Increasingly, platforms are attempting to find the space and time to explore social and equity considerations and to integrate these into platform delivery.

Climate-ADAPT (EU) is a transnational platform and needs to address slightly different concerns related to inclusion and equity by ensuring all relevant policy sectors and geographical areas and countries are equally covered, and that all are represented in terms of available information.

Shared challenges  

  • Building capacity to address social justice and equity concerns within platforms is challenging and, whilst platforms are sensitive to the need, these issues are often not specific drivers for development and resources are limited.
  • In-person connections are crucial and combining digital and in-person elements within a platform is difficult but important as together they offer choice. In-person platform components tend to benefit under-represented and non-traditional user communities and are particularly valuable for users with less developed IT infrastructure and capability.
  • Building networks with community organisations that have the knowledge and expertise to act as champions can help enhance and accelerate inclusivity.