Environmental justice analysis to advance rural landscape transformations in the face of climate change

ESPOL is involved since 2020 in the “Just-Scapes” project (Environmental justice analysis to advance rural landscape transformations in the face of climate change) together with the University of East Anglia (UK), the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Czech Republic) and the INRAE (France).

Funded by the Joint Programming Initiative “Connecting Climate Knowledge for Europe (JPI Climate) as part of its SOLSTICE programme and coordinated by University of East Anglia, this project aims to advance our understanding of the concept and practice of “Just Transformation”. This is a justice-based approach to shaping transformational change that is increasingly advocated by academics, activists and policymakers, but which has not yet been substantially researched and elaborated. In particular, we will address the challenge of transforming rural landscapes in response to climate change.

Rural land use is a major contributor to climate change as well as being vulnerable to its effects. There is increasing discussion of land-use change as a critical policy response in rural areas, including large-scale afforestation, expansion of protected areas and reduction of livestock. But such land-use changes can be resisted by rural populations whose livelihoods and identities are linked to the land, leading to what we observe to be a ‘justice barrier’ to transformative change. We will research empirically how those who live and work in European rural landscapes perceive the justices and injustices arising from potential climate-influenced land-use changes. We will explore these perceptions using qualitative creative writing workshops as well as online surveys, identifying multiple and competing ideas about justice as well as opportunities for shared visions underpinned by collective norms. We will then build on this justice analysis through transdisciplinary workshops at which participants work collaboratively to produce living justice manifestos for case study landscapes.

The research will involve comparative analysis in three European landscapes, one each in the Czech Republic, France and the United Kingdom.