The climate justice perspective links human rights, social justice, and general principles of equality with the transformation of our economies to ensure environmental sustainability. As the effects of the climate crisis are deepening, it is increasingly evident that the burden of adapting to and managing the unfolding climate emergency will disproportionately fall on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. There is a growing need for an inclusive discussion about a fair distribution of the burdens and benefits of climate adaptation. To date, citizens of Central and Eastern Europe have largely missed out on and risk being left behind in these conversations, despite being significantly affected by future decisions and policies. Furthermore, the fallout of the Covid-19 crisis, with the economic and social shocks it creates, will be especially severe in the CEE region, bringing about unpredictable political consequences and likely creating tensions between job preservation and climate change policies.
In July 2020, the Open Society Institute – Sofia Foundation (OSIS) with the support of Open Society Foundations (OSFs) and in cooperation with the Open Society European Network (OSEN), consisting of civil society organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, launched the Local Climate Justice Activism in Central and Eastern Europe initiative for civil society organisations seeking to support the inclusion of so far marginalized and excluded groups and communities to address climate justice issues in the countries of Central Eastern Europe.
The Local Climate Justice Activism in Central and Eastern Europe initiative encompasses Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. It is indented to help registered not-for-profit and non-partisan civil society organisations or non-formal groups represented by a registered civil society organisation, driven by open society values such as democracy, equality and climate justice, all based in the eligible countries.
The initiative prioritizes activities led by local, grassroots climate justice activists and local CSOs with activities taking place outside of capital cities, while not excluding capital-based organizations and groups. The Local Climate Justice Activism priorities also include engaging local stakeholders in the areas of climate action and environmental sustainability, which aim to address local problems related to climate justice and to advance climate justice at local and community levels; mobilising and empowering vulnerable and underrepresented groups, potentially affected by climate change and related policies and introducing innovative forms of citizen engagement, mobilizing public support or pursuing impact on decision-making with regards to climate justice at local or community levels.