It is a crucial time for governments and people across the world to come together and take serious action to address this existential threat. Having access to safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environments is a fundamental human right and something that governments worldwide are failing to achieve. As social workers we are committed to urgent action and will continue to advocate for inclusive policies that assure a healthy and sustainable environment for generations to come.” Upon the culmination of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (https://ukcop26.org/), the IFSW Climate Justice Program offers this statement as a call to action and accountability.
We support the collective, international efforts towards climate justice that led to the Glasgow Climate Pact. However, we acknowledge efforts need to be strengthened, enacted, and for entities to be held accountable to eliminating fossil fuels and supporting just transitions if the policies are to have any real impact on the planetary crisis. We additionally echo those who are calling for the need to center Indigenous and First Nations voices. Climate action must prioritise listening to and working with First Nations peoples all over the world who have lived sustainably with the land for over thousands of years. Pursuing climate action requires a shift from mere acknowledgment of First Nations’ knowledges towards true partnerships and deep listening to gain an understanding of the values, cultures and traditions on the local lands where we live and work. Developing respectful and reflective relationships are integral for dismantling the legacies of colonialism and for avoiding a simplistic understanding and appropriation of global First Nation knowledges.
Additionally, we acknowledge that the COP is only one way that social workers are showing up to discuss these issues and support international and local solutions. Social workers around the world are also continually showing up, every single day, in whatever ways we can. This includes advocating in local politics, participating with school sustainability efforts, educating children AND creating platforms for them to be heard so they can educate others, planting trees, chaining oneself to a tree in protest; for some, it may look like NOT flying to an event, rather reducing your carbon footprint, for others, it may look like going to events to show up in great numbers to help the world recognize the dire urgency of the climate crisis. Several social workers who were present for COP26 shared their perspectives and are noted on the IFSW Climate Justice Program Advocacy page.
Around the world, social workers continue to lift up the critical concerns of climate change, as well as working towards climate justice. Join the conversations and action with the IFSW Climate Justice Program. We, also, encourage social workers to join with the Global Mass Movement for Eco-social change, with the international conference in 2022, registration and call for participation is now open. This mass movement seeks to establish a new set of global principles and values that act as a reference point ensuring peace, trust, confidence, security and sustainability for all.