Public policy dialogues

The third pillar of the Georgetown Environmental Justice Program is the public policy dialogue, an action-oriented program which partners with governments and organizations to provide research and guidance on issues of climate change and adaptation, just transition, environmental justice, and inclusive economies. The public policy council mobilizes accumulated knowledge from key theoretical frameworks (environmental justice, just transitions, the commons, etc.) and the applied research from the program’s other divisions to facilitate a dialogue and advise stakeholders on crafting national and local policies towards a just transition. 

Moving towards the political domain, the EJP holds the belief that reality is more important than ideas. Based on today’s reality, the public policy council adds science-based complexity and considerations of social justice to conversations about institutional actions, multi-level governance, and environmental policy. The Council adopts several lenses in its approach: 

Just Transition

The research will be framed by the idea of a just transition, a concept which suggests any progress toward a carbon neutral future must include attention to issues of social justice and equity. In practice, this means paying evaluation the impacts of climate change, as well as the projected effects of policies and programs, on those whose lives are most affected by and dependent on the fossil fuel economy1. Particular care will be taken to contextualize the notion of a just transition from a global South or developing country perspective, as well as to consider urban politics and soils as key topics in the movement toward carbon neutral, sustainable development2

The Commons

This project will also draw inspiration from the idea of the commonsThis notion places civil society and communities as key stakeholders in creating and managing common value; as such. It differentiates itself from the capitalist model of creating market value and the state-centric model of appropriating assets and instead sets forth a new interwoven model of commons-based production and redistribution3. The theory of the commons is particularly important to the program’s public policy work, which upholds Ostrom’s claim that communities, with their myriad ways to govern common resources, are best situated to assure survival for themselves and for future generations4. The program will explore hybrid modes of governance that combine state participation and local community initiatives. 

Science-based approach

 The program provides advisory services on climate change and related issues based on economic and scientific research. The council relies on the complementary work of the EJP, including the development of climate models and cutting-edge research on adaptation, in order to provide relevant and actionable advice to decision makers. 

Implementation focus

The program seeks to overcome the time constraints of political decisions, recognizing that time is a fundamental element in the political discourse about justice and sustainability and that coordinated partnerships and research efforts can bring about just policies which embrace long-term implementation and impact horizons. 

Diversity and context specificity 

The program approaches each project with a fresh perspective, acknowledging that each community is different and that the specific context in which we work will determine the process and products we produce. The program also acknowledges the gap between local and individual interests and the common and broad interests (whole > ∑ parts), striving to support collective efforts which celebrate diversity and leave no one behind. In this spirit, the work amplifies indigenous knowledge and embraces the belief that communities know best the challenges they face and, when provided with the tools and resources, are best prepared to lead the development and management of socially just environmental transitions. 

Reference list  

Newell, P., & Mulvaney, D. (2013). The political economy of the ‘just transition’. The Geographical Journal179(2), 132-140. [pdf] 

2  Swilling M., Annecke E. (2012). Just Transitions, Explorations of sustainability in an unfair world. United Nations University Press

Bauwens, M., & Ramos, J. (2018). Re-imagining the left through an ecology of the commons: towards a post-capitalist commons transition. Global Discourse8(2), 325-342.  [pdf]

All research from Elinor Ostrom, from 1990 to 2003. [google scholar]

last updated: 05-02-2021