Towards Global Eco-Social Policy: Combining Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Martin FRITZ, Bielefeld University, Germany
The idea of environmental sustainability always had a hard time against firm economic interests and the power games of political actors. Nature cannot speak for itself and the people mostly affected by ecological damage were not heard in political debates for a long time. Green issues gained major political influence only as an attachment to the more popular concept of socio-economic modernization. Environmental concerns were used for greenwashing business interests and promoting visions of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘green growth’.

While these ideas are still predominant today, a new political alliance is forged: Global social policy more and more is concerned with the problem that the causes, costs and consequences of ecological degradation are distributed unequally between social classes and countries. There is a ‘triple injustice’ (Gough 2013): The rich make for the most of the environmental pollution while the poor bear the brunt (Büchs et al. 2011) and pay the bill. Tackling these problems requires to combine environmental and social policy efforts within an integrated ‘eco-social policy’ approach (Gough 2013). The adoption of the SDGs was a first important step but more need to follow.

Using the analytical distinction of the three Rs (Deacon 2007), this paper traces the latest developments in the emerging field of global eco-social policy and discusses to what extent major projects, actors and institutions refer to unified eco-social strategies in the fight against social and environmental injustice. Theoretically, the paper follows Gough’s suggestion that there are three stages of integrating social with environmental policy. It critically assesses whether instruments and strategies are designed as compensation, co-benefit, or unified eco-social policy. The paper argues that despite the current political roll-back trends in many world regions, there is a growing global awareness of ecological risks such as climate change and the massive social consequences they entail.