The African Research University Alliance (ARUA) provides a platform for collaborative research and knowledge exchange in a pan-African research network. In March the ARUA Centres of Excellence on Inequalities Research (ACEIR) and Climate and Development (ARUA-CD) hosted the ARUA Climate Change and Inequalities Symposium: Justice in Transition – Transforming Social Inequalities Through Inclusive Climate Action.

“[the symposium] was a great space to finally have climate researchers and economists discuss the intersections of climate change and inequalities together in the same room,” explains Britta Rennkamp, organiser and TSITICA researcher.

“There were some excellent presentations and discussions by members of the TSITICA team showing how the linkages between climate actions, poverty and inequality manifest in developing countries,” says Mark New, ACDI director and core member of ARUA-CD.

Inequalities in climate change

Climate change surfaces inequalities and injustices between and within the world’s societies. These injustices no longer only manifest in the unequal share of global emissions but in the unequal access to technologies and finance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While these challenges persist, the impacts of climate change are progressing at a faster pace than societies can adapt. This situation leaves them increasingly in a need to manage intersecting crises.

These challenges range from managing unequal access to energy, water, sanitation, transport, waste removal and other climate sensitive technologies and services to unequal protection to the impacts of extreme weather events and subsequent disasters. Increasing deprivation may increase migration, social unrest and reduce border security. These social phenomena already occur in sub-Saharan Africa, home to the most unequal societies in the world and the region most vulnerable to climate change.

The symposium sought to address:

  • How can we manage socio-technical sustainability and energy transitions in just and inclusive ways while putting out the fires and spending increasing effort on adapting to climate impacts and managing climate, health, and security risks?
  • How do societies design and implement climate action to improve sustainable livelihoods, and reduce both poverty and inequality in the Global South?
  • Where can we find evidence of innovative practices in addressing such multiple objectives?
  • Which data do we have and what else do we need to build solid evidence to inform decision-making processes?
  • How can we finance transitional justice in a fair and equitable dialogue between the Global North and South?

Prof. Robert D. Osei, the convener of ACEIR’s research node at the University of Ghana commented, “I have learned over the last couple of days that getting a handle on the intersection between climate change, poverty, and inequality – and a handle that will enable us to speak to policy – it’s not easy.”

Creating a space for collaboration

The symposium created a space for innovative, transdisciplinary exchange, to facilitate novel networks and collaborations between early and mid-career researchers, senior scholars and practitioners in understanding the relationships between these major global societal challenges.

“The TSITICA conference brought together a wonderful group of researchers from across several African countries, made space for experiences of local activists and sparked interest in new research ideas for me. I was an excellent opportunity and I’m very grateful to have been a participant,” explained Julia Taylor (University of Witwatersrand) who presented A gendered analysis of South Africa’s just energy transition.

Top: Speakers Julia Taylor and Jacqueline Njambi Kamau with discussants Jacqueline Mosomi, and Abena Daagye Odur. Bottom: Speakers Sylvia Hannan, Patrick Martel and Darlington Sibanda.

For summaries of the symposium sessions, and abstracts of papers selected for presentation, click here.

View the recordings of the symposium’s seven plenaries on:

Intersections between multidimensional inequalities and climate action – what do we know and what do we need to know?

Climate change and inequalities knowledge, data, and reporting

Climate change, inequality, and development

Gender inequality and intersectionality in a changing climate

Justice in energy transitions [recording pending]

Modelling the distributive impacts of climate mitigation ambition

Innovation, reflection, and new research horizons.


TSITICA  is a collaborative, multi-country and multidisciplinary research project of ARUA-CD and ACEIR in partnership with the universities of Ghana, Nairobi, Cape Town, Bristol, East Anglia and Manchester and the London School of Economics. The support of the African Research Universities Alliance and UK Research and Innovation is gratefully acknowledged.