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Climate justice and sustainability – social work at COP26

Professor Lena Dominelli, Chair of BASW’s Special Interest Group for Social Work in Disasters and Emergencies is at COP 26 this week and shares her busy itinerary

Ruth Allen, BASW CEO provides an introduction:

As COP26 gets underway in Glasgow, the stories we are hearing about the present and future cost to people of the escalating environmental crisis across the world shows how climate and justice and sustainability are social work issues. Globally, social workers are supporting and defending the rights of people most impacted by climate and environmental degradation – most often the poorest and marginalised groups in cities and rural areas, and indigenous people who often rely on land that is being ravaged by commercial exploitation of various kinds.

We are now seeing many more severe weather and other environmental impacts in the UK and Europe, from extraordinary floods to plummeting biodiversity and changed weather.

Social workers are supporting communities to adapt and protect themselves, to recover from environmental crises and to lobby for their rights to politicians who must act now to reduce the impact on current and future generations. The International Federation of Social Workers is working with the United Nations and other global bodies to raise the profile and show the difference social work can make to global sustainability, culminating in a sustainability online conference in Summer 2022

We were lucky to have Professor Lena Dominelli speak on the importance of social work’s engagement in climate justice at our AGM break out session on sustainability in September. This is a key strategic area for BASW in coming years.

Professor Lena Dominelli, Chair of BASW’s Special Interest Group for Social Work in Disasters and Emergencies.

Lena is Chair of BASW’s Special Interest Group for Social Work in Disasters and Emergencies. This week she is at COP 26. When it is over, she will provide a blog of her experience and continue to rally the profession around the cause of climate and environmental justice.

In advance of that, she has shared her busy itinerary with us and there are opportunities to join in:

  • As Head of Delegation for the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) throughout the two weeks I will have with a badge for both blue and green zones, so I can ask questions of the government delegates.
  • Running the Exhibition called ‘Making Visible the Social Workers’ Activities Regarding Tackling Climate Change’ online. This will run throughout the 2 weeks and a link will follow in subsequent bulletin.
  • 27 Oct online seminar on talking about protecting the soil under the slogan a healthy soil is a healthy nation organised by Karen Johnson at Durham University, and ending with how to build a terrarium in a jam jar with young people.
  • Organising a side-event linked to COP26 and teaching students on 4 Nov from 16:00-18:00 join via Microsoft Teams The Programme is entitled ‘Living on the Edge: Young People Speak Their Minds on Climate Change’. It has a speaker from Durban, S.A., who will talk about what ‘The Future Young People Want’ based on her work with homeless young people and street-children. This will be followed by videos from people from the Alva Academy and their teachers including the Head-Teacher focusing on what they are doing and what they want adults to do to reduce climate change. I will then conclude with some comments on what has been said, and what my own research with UNICEF on climate risk and young people; and what young people know about climate change. 
  • 5 Nov – attending the 09:30-10:30 session organised by Anna Barford for COP26 Universities in which young people from Africa and young people from the Alva Academy will talk around ‘reciprocated learning’ (my term) and I will be one of the facilitators.
  • 5 Nov from 10:00-11:00 Building a Terrarium in the Green Zone Network Stand.
  • 8 Nov attending a COP26 Universities event talking about young people and climate change.
  • Climate Change Blog for Stirling University 
  • Climate justice and social work blog after COP 26 blog for BASW

PODCAST:  'Social Work, the Climate Crisis and the Politics of Hope'

To discuss the social work's response to the climate crisis and environmental injustice, Andy McClenaghan is joined by Gerry Nosowska, Chair of BASW UK, Professor Lena Dominelli from the University of Stirling and Professor John Barry from Queen’s University Belfast.

Listen at Apple PodcastsSpotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts, just search ‘Let’s Talk Social Work’.