Communities reclaiming power and social justice in the face of climate change


Maria Fernandes-Jesus, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IUL, Portugal.

Brendon Barnes, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Raquel Farias Diniz, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte), Brazil.

Theme of the Special Issue

Climate change consequences profoundly affect human rights and social justice. The distribution of climate change impacts is already falling more heavily in the global South (Dietz, 2018; George, 2018; Naess, 2018). Within countries, whether “developing” or “developed”, it is often the poorest and marginalized sections of society that are most at risk from climate change impacts and who are most exposed to continuous environmental degradation (Arora-Jonsson, 2011; Levy & Patz, 2015). As the signs and impacts of climate change accelerate, the need for justice-oriented climate action increases all over the world (Robinson & Shine, 2018).

This special issue aims to publish original research focusing on the processes through which indigenous, marginalized and oppressed communities are reclaiming their power in the face of climate change and environmental degradation. Power has been considered a critical factor shaping communities’ ability to plan for, cope with and respond to the multiple impacts of climate change, yet these processes have been insufficiently addressed in the literature (Manuel-Navarrete & Pelling, 2015; Mikulewicz, 2018; Thomas et al., 2018). Community psychology, with a long interest in the impacts of power discrepancies on the well-being of groups and communities (Fisher, Sonn, & Evans, 2007), can offer theoretical and practical tools for addressing climate change and environmental problems, without the reproduction or intensification of already existing inequalities and injustices.

This call proposes to look at communities’ struggles for climate and environmental justice, by focusing on how communities are resisting, contesting and overcoming power inequalities. We seek contributions in particular from the global South, but research focusing on marginalized communities in the global North are also welcomed. Theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions will be appreciated. We encourage papers from scholars, educators, practitioners, and activists engaging with and/or interrogating community-based action and/or research through the lens of climate justice and community psychology values and approaches.

The following list presents some illustrative topics for possible contributions:

  • Examinations of communities’ struggles for power and climate/environmental justice in contexts affected by climate change impacts and environmental degradation.
  • Research analysing the impacts of mitigation and adaptation actions in indigenous and marginalized communities.
  • Studies intersecting climate change with poverty, refugee crisis, migration, racism, feminism, or colonialism.
  • Illustrations of community-based initiatives and interventions contesting disempowered and unequal power structures while simultaneously addressing environmental problems.
  • Critique of and/or new directions for the role of psychology in addressing climate change.
  • Critical approaches on how community psychology (theory and praxis) may help to address power inequalities and social injustices in the face of climate change.
  • Innovative methodological possibilities for the study of power and justice in climate change related issues.


Submitted papers should contain original and unpublished work and must be written in English. For non-native speakers, editing of the manuscript by a competent English-speaking editor is requested.

Papers are due April 15, 2020. Early submissions are welcome.

All submitted papers will undergo the journal's regular peer review process.

Papers must be prepared in full accord with the journal’s Author guidelines and be submitted through the journal portal (

Inquiries regarding topic or scope for the special issue can be sent to Maria Fernandes-Jesus at, Brendon Barnes at, or Raquel Diniz at

Papers unrelated to the theme of the special issue may be submitted at any time through the journal’s online submission system and will be considered for publication in Community Psychology In Global Perspective as regular articles. Inquiries regarding the journal’s aim, scope, and policy can be sent to



Arora-Jonsson, S.  (2011). Virtue and vulnerability: Discourses on women, gender and climate change. Global Environmental Change, 21(2), 744-751. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.01.005.

Dietz, K. (2018). The political ecology of vulnerability: How the rural poor are excluded from climate policy. A case study from Morogoro, Tanzania. In B. Engels, & K. Dietz (Eds.), Climate Change in Africa: Social and Political Impacts, Conflicts and Strategies, (pp.107-125). Berlin: Peter Lang GmbH.

Fisher, A. T., Sonn, C. C., & Evans, S. D., (2007). The Place and Function of Power in Community Psychology: Philosophical and Practical issues. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 17, 258-267. doi: 10.1002/casps.934.

George, C. (2018). Social and Political Impacts of Climate Change in Nigeria. In B. Engels, & K. Dietz (eds.), Climate Change in Africa: Social and Political Impacts, Conflicts and Strategies, (pp.149-166). Berlin: Peter Lang GmbH.

Levy, B. S., & Patz, J. A. (2015). Climate Change, Human Rights, and Social Justice. Annals of Global Health, 81(3), 310-322. Doi: 10.1016/j.aogh.2015.08.008

Manuel-Navarrete, D., & Pelling, M. (2015). Subjectivity and the politics of transformation in response to development and environmental change. Global Environmental Change, 35, 558–569.

Mikulewicz, M. (2018). Politicizing vulnerability and adaptation: on the need to democratize local responses to climate impacts in developing countries, Climate and Development, 10(1), 18-34. doi: 10.1080/17565529.2017.1304887

Naess, L. O. (2018). The politics of adaptation to climate change: Entry points for research and practice. In B. Engels & K. Dietz (Eds.), Climate Change in Africa: Social and Political Impacts, Conflicts and Strategies, (pp.89-105). Berlin: Peter Lang GmbH.

Robinson, M., & Shine, T. (2018). Achieving a climate justice pathway to 1.5 °c. Nature Climate Change, 8(7), 564–569. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0189-7

Thomas, K., Hardy, R. D., Lazrus, H., Mendez, M., Orlove, B., Rivera-Collazo, I., Roberts, J. T., Rockman, M., Warner, B.P., & Winthrop, R. (2019). Explaining differential vulnerability to climate change: A social science review. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 10(2), 1–18. doi:10.1002/wcc.565

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