Recognizing that the impacts of climate change will disproportionately impact our most vulnerable neighbours, so too must our local solutions be mindful to ensure that we can all adapt and be resilient. Together we can work towards equitable approaches to make sure that no one gets left behind.
In order for our communities to be resilient, we need to ensure that all of us are equally protected and have equal access to the support we need through the transition from the fossil fuel economy and to mitigate negative impacts of climate-related hazards such as extreme whether events.
Recognizing that equity-seeking groups are not always well represented in positions of power, we all have a responsibility to ensure their needs are considered. By thinking about how climate impacts and local policies may run up against barriers to inclusion and equity, we can help ensure that climate change does not exacerbate division and inequality in our communities.
Our communities are only as strong as our most vulnerable members.
Whether considering global or local experiences of climate change, impacts are not being felt evenly by all peoples. Populations that are more privileged have more access and resources and therefore more ability to protect themselves from the climate change impacts.
Low-income community members have less capacity to adjust to changing climate temperatures or extreme weather events. For example, adaptation measures like investing in air conditioning, upgrading homes or opting into sustainable technologies that are more sustainable.
Racialized communities, especially indigenous communities, are more likely to live in areas that are physically vulnerable to climate change impacts. These community members also tend to be underrepresented in decision-making roles and elected office in our communities and are less likely to have their voices amplified in policy-making.
Women also are more likely to experience climate vulnerability and can be disproportionately impacted by climate change hazards due to their gendered caregiving roles in families and neighbourhoods.
Here in Northumberland, there are many groups that are working to amplify the voices of our most vulnerable community members and to help address their needs. Not all would immediately consider this work to be climate action, but all efforts to reduce inequality and promote social inclusion help reduce climate vulnerability.
Some sustainability focused groups are also beginning to include equity as part of their efforts to build community resilience and advance collective action.
Learn more about climate equity and the intersection between climate and poverty:
Learn more about Equitable Climate Adaptation for municipalities:
Stories coming soon…
Sustainability is a complex and evolving concept and best understood today as a movement to find a balance between the environment, equity, and economy.
Each community needs to determine how this will look for themselves based on their local characteristics and the needs of residents.
We encourage our Northumberland community to ask and answer the question: How do we reduce our ecological footprint while enhancing our social wellbeing and maintaining our economic viability?
There is a growing awareness, globally and locally, of the environmental and societal challenges we currently face, however, there is little societal or political consensus on what to do and how quickly to act. Our network recommends a bottoms-up approach with solutions emerging from within each community contributing to our shared future.
Locally, individuals, businesses, and organizations bring a range of perspectives, responses, resources, and commitment to the sustainability challenges we face. Each may be located at different points of the sustainability spectrum, each action adding up to broader change across Northumberland.