16 March 2023

New project aims to incorporate social equity in climate interventions

Good climate measures are social climate measures, but too often these ideas are seen as separate and competing for resources and prioritisation. This concept is emphasised in the recently launched INCLU:DE project, which met for the first time on 7 March in Dortmund (Germany). Here, ICLEI met with project partners and representatives from four German cities - ICLEI Members Bonn, Heidelberg and Ludwigsburg as well as the city of Dortmund (as part of the Regionalverband Ruhr cluster).

The INCLU:DE project aims to ensure that climate interventions include social equity considerations and benefits, as well as work to strategically align these two priorities. Finally, it seeks to develop a methodology for scaling up just and inclusive climate action, which other cities can use and learn from. Through its work with city partners, the project emphasises localising climate measures, which is an important step when considering the particular context and needs of local communities.

The project will build on workshops in the respective cities (working to integrate social indicators into their chosen project), peer-to-peer exchanges with international partner cities, and finally in onboarding other departments. The project will also see a strong advocacy and dissemination element, including sharing of key project outcomes at the German-, EU- and Global-level.

On the role that social equity plays in climate interventions, Dr. Klaus Kordowski, Project Manager Climate Action at Stiftung Mercator notes, “Socially just implementation of climate action is a challenge for municipalities – as well as a key factor for achieving climate neutrality locally. A solution-oriented dialog between cities in Germany and beyond, as approached in the INCLU:DE project, offers valuable learning experiences for practitioners and policy-makers.

During the kick-off, the cities presented their work in the area and how they want to learn from and work with INCLU:DE. They also discussed their respective struggles to meet social sustainability targets within the traditionally more technically oriented fields of climate protection and sustainable urban development. "Climate protection measures cannot only take the form of technical planning interventions. Today perhaps more than ever, it is crucial that social considerations are included," remarks Dr. Monika Hirsch, Team Leader for Climate Protection and Climate Adaptation at the Dortmund Environment Agency (Umweltamt).

There was a great shared recognition of the important role social inequality has played in recent years and the impact that different climate-friendly actions can have on inequality. Yet city partners also shared significant uncertainty and even frustration regarding a lack of clarity on how these elements should be assessed within their daily work.

There is an urgent need to help cities create social equity indicators to assist in this evaluation process and this is what INCLU:DE, which is supported by Stiftung Mercator, aims to address.

More information about the project can be found on the website.