What alliances? …and how to build them?

Thursday, May 20st 2021 – 20:00 – 22:00 CEST


Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Alliance 90/The Greens

Christof Timpe, Institute for Applied Ecology, Head of Energy & Climate Division

Helen Cole, Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Tobias Holle, Fridays for Future climate activist

Moderation: Hartmut Fünfgeld, University of Freiburg

The recorded video of the panel discussion is accessible here.

In the face of the global multi-dimensional sustainability crises, questions of environmental justice are highly relevant. There is increasing acknowledgement of the complexity of environmental justice in the Anthropocene, spanning different spatial scales and pertaining to justice-related questions about the present as well as the near and far future. This includes, but is not limited to, processes of the degradation of our global commons and their local effects; dispersed, yet structurally comparable struggles for survival of indigenous groups; and injustices as a result of local-to-global-scale policies and regulations designed as a response to environmental crises.

Recently, environmental justice issues have intensified in the context of the Corona pandemic. The pandemic has exposed existing vulnerabilities and inequalities and created new forms of injustice, potentially engendering more awareness and allies for environmental justice. At the same time the pandemic seems to supersede and (partially) roll back societal discourse about climate change and other crises, with potential dire consequences for ongoing commitment for addressing these.

Consequently, there is even more a need for (new) alliances, connected and inclusive approaches, and innovative methods that contribute towards greater concern for justice issues in the context of global environmental crises and their localized effects.

Complexity, uncertainty, and plurality create amalgamations between once distinct domains of knowledge and action, as well as formerly unrelated fields of environmental justice work: activists become researchers with access to critical inside information, policy-makers co-produce knowledge jointly with scientists, and academics have a desire to – or are forced to – leave academia to engage in, as well as study, the politics of environmental degradation in order to contribute to more just futures.

This panel sets out to explore possibilities and strategies to build broad coalitions for environmental justice bridging disciplinary and scalar divides in an age of globalized crises and pandemics. A panel of discussants from different backgrounds spanning activism, politics, and science, as well as different spatial foci – from local to global – will debate questions including:

  • What kind of alliances do we need to counteract environmental degradation and concomitant
  • How can such alliances be formed?
  • What opportunities and challenges does the Corona pandemic add to the challenges at hand?
  • What potential lies in a closer interaction between research policy, and activism in the work for
    environmental justice?
  • What are examples and success criteria of local coalitions and cooperation?
  • What is the role and potential of trans-local coalitions and cooperation?