Thursday, 17 October 2013

Project update - projects addressing environmental sustainability and equity/social inclusion

Participants in the action research project have identified some projects or actions that they feel are promoting both environmental sustainability and equity/social inclusion. These range from a simple action such as one PCP encouraging agencies to inform themselves about the Home Energy Saver Scheme by attending a local forum, right though to a major partnership project involving 14 agencies working with vulnerable clients to increase housing sustainability and reduce energy costs (Pass the Parcel).

I am currently analysing the information I've been given about the projects to identify key characteristics. The table below is my first attempt and will no doubt be worked through and further refined as the project progresses.

This table is based on information that participants gave me about projects, so the characteristics below reflect what different participants saw as significant about the project. This could vary depending on the perspective of the person talking - for instance a local Elder might highlight different characteristics of a project than a Council or PCP officer, for example. Again the information will be further developed and analysed as the project progresses.

All of the projects aimed to promote health and wellbeing. This is central to the work of the agencies and community groups represented in this research project so I have not included this information in the table below.

Some of the most common characteristics of the projects are:  promoting social inclusion, for example by building community, reducing isolation, improving access to services or reducing living costs for low income groups (19 projects) building capacity, for example through developing skills and knowledge of agency staff or community members (12 projects), reducing energy costs and increasing housing sustainability (8 projects), increasing access to food, especially fresh and locally grown food, and reducing food waste (7 projects) and increasing access to nature, largely through community gardens (6 projects). (There is of course considerable overlap between the latter two).

Four projects also had a specific Indigenous component, for example through the participation of Indigenous community members and through aiming to increase awareness of Indigenous culture.

This table is a work in progress and may not reflect the final classifications of the projects. I will be inviting research participants to comment on this draft as part of the action research.

I have looked at projects promoting adaptation separately and will include some information about them later but it is worth noting that there is considerable overlap in practice between the concepts of adaptation, resilience, climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability (the term I usually use in this project).

From a sustainability perspective, a gap in this work is that it is not addressing the activities of the wealthier people (and businesses) who create more carbon emissions. The people these projects are aiming to assist are often those who will be a most at risk from climate change, but they are not the people who are most responsible for creating it.

PCPs, and health and community agencies generally, often focus their work on those who are affected by health inequities. However, as identified in the first stage of this project, there is also a need for action and advocacy to those more powerful groups who are creating the social and environmental inequities that underly the health inequities.

Projects promoting environmental sustainability and equity/social inclusion - some key characteristics (draft only) 

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