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Glasgow, environmental justice and community resilience
1  PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow, School of Social and Political Science, Urban Studies


I begin by identifying five primary discourses of resilience in Scotland in relation to climate policy; city resilience; regeneration; public health; and more recently ‘transformational’ community resilience. These simultaneously operate at national, city and neighbourhood scales, indicating a need for critical reflection on their impact across multiple levels and diverse publics.

As a member of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, Glasgow aspires to use a values-driven approach to address inequality through the lens of resilience and asset-based community empowerment. Drawing on Schlosberg’s (2004:521) ‘trivalent’ conception of environmental justice (consisting of distributional, procedural and recognition dimensions), I explore the intersections between local socio-environmental concerns, environmental justice, the discourses of resilience and socially just climate policy.

Schlosberg reminds us that ‘generalised social injustices are manifest in environmental conditions’ (2013:40), and Glasgow’s story reflects how Scottish urban socio-environmental concerns are inextricably linked with the economic and social legacy of rapid deindustrialisation, the failure of previous regeneration strategies, and the consequent number of isolated buildings and derelict land (Fairburn et al., 2005). Using participatory action research in a neighbourhood of multiple deprivation, I identified the current absence of an environmental justice discourse to challenge the health inequalities of living in proximity to vacant and derelict land and poor local environmental quality (Maantay 2013). This was reflected in a disconnect between community development initiatives and a range of fragmented environmental interventions which, if better coordinated, could facilitate an inclusive well & green narrative.

By introducing an environmental justice frame at a neighbourhood and city level, I subtly shift the focus from assets to rights, sustainable consumption and inequality for low-income neighbourhoods. I conclude by proposing an integrated social, environmental and climate justice framework to crystallise and navigate the discourses of resilience towards ‘transformational’ community resilience.

Keywords: Glasgow; environmental justice; community development; resilience