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Intersectional climate justice: A conceptual pathway for bridging adaptation planning, transformative action, and social equity

  • Author(s): Amorim-Maia, AT;
  • Anguelovski, I;
  • Chu, E;
  • Connolly, J
  • et al.

Local governments around the world are formulating different ways to address climate change. However, the compounding and overlapping vulnerabilities of historically marginalized residents are commonly tackled in a fragmented manner by conventional adaptation approaches, even when justice is presented as an overarching goal of these plans. In response, we propose an intersectional pivot in climate adaptation research and practice to analyze the interconnected forms of social-environmental injustices that drive vulnerabilities in cities, paving the way for more concrete and integrated strategies of just urban adaptation and transformation. This paper brings together narrative and analytical review methodologies to inform a new conceptual framework that highlights the need to (1) tackle underlying reinforcers of racial and gender inequalities; (2) redress drivers of differential vulnerabilities; (3) take politics and ethics of care seriously; (4) adopt place-based and place-making approaches; and (5) promote cross-identity forms of activism and community resilience building. We illustrate the framework with examples of ongoing projects in Barcelona, Spain, which is an early adopter of intersectional thinking and justice-driven principles in climate action. Although many initiatives are in a pilot phase and do not all exclusively focus on climate adaptation, experiences from Barcelona do provide illustrative directionality for innovative and integrated approaches that can address multiple and intersecting social-environmental inequities.

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