Working Paper

Global Climate Change Justice: Toward a Risk-Adjusted Social Floor

Published on 18 July 2013

Addressing climate change from social justice and human rights perspectives is a global challenge, and international negotiations dealing with climate change need to incorporate such concerns.

This paper reviews existing literature on sustainable development, social justice, human rights, and climate change justice and argues that all approaches lead to a focus on providing everyone a guaranteed social minimum of basic needs, or a social floor.

A social floor needs to be dynamic and flexible so that it also includes a risk adjustment (or insurance) component to compensate for the unknown direct and indirect impacts of climate change on households, communities and nations. The proposed globally guaranteed, nationally designed and managed, and locally implemented risk-adjusted social floor is a forward-looking approach to climate change justice that focuses on creating resilient economic, social and environmental systems that are equitable and sustainable.

The risk-adjusted social floor is based on UN agreements that guarantee human rights and basic needs, and the security of basic needs. The risk-adjusted social floor is consistent with principles of the UN Social Protection Floor Initiative and the proposed Global Fund for Social Protection.

Implementaion of a risk-adjusted social floor could draw upon existing social protection practices around the world that deliver basic needs (e.g., conditional cash transfers, use of vouchers, fee waivers, feeding programs, micro-insurance, productive safety nets), along with advances in the use of early warning and rapid response systems to target and deliver emergency assistance. There are also innovations in global insurance instruments and risk pooling methods.The risk-adjusted social floor integrates key aspects of risk-based and rights-based approaches to social protection and poverty reduction.

Publication details

published by
Siegel, P. B., and Jorgensen, S. L.
IDS Working Paper, issue 426
978 1 78118 122-5


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