Community-led responses to climate change: discovering conditions for equity and social justice

The compounding impacts of climate change has called attention to the importance of community resilience requiring us to rethink how diverse communities are supported to respond. The Menzies Foundation, in collaboration with Collaboration for Impact and Jesuit Social Services, is delighted to announce the release of the report titled “Community-led Responses to Climate Change: Discovering Conditions for Equity and Social Justice.”

This comprehensive report explores the critical role of community leadership in addressing the multifaceted impacts of climate change, particularly focusing on issues of social justice and equity.

Anna Powell, CEO, Collaboration for Impact stated, “These findings highlight the critical importance of community-led responses to climate change and how, by shifting power and sharing decision making with communities, our collective responses will be  more inclusive, equitable and effective.”

“This report underscores the importance of community leadership in tackling the dual challenges of climate change and social inequity. It provides a roadmap for empowering communities to lead the way in creating resilient and just responses to climate impacts,” said Liz Gillies, CEO, Menzies Foundation.

Key Findings

Climate Justice and Community Leadership:

The report emphasises that climate change disproportionately affects marginalised communities. It highlights how community leadership can effectively address these disparities by promoting social justice and equity.

Enabling Conditions for Community-led Action: The study identifies strong social infrastructure, social capital, community governance, and resource flows as essential enablers for effective community-led responses to climate change.

Barriers to Community-led Action: Despite the benefits of community leadership, the report outlines several systemic barriers, including lack of collaborative structures, unrecognised community knowledge, restrictive government timelines, and institutional inequities.

Opportunities for Improvement:

The report presents three broad opportunities to support community-led action:

  • Establishing collective learning systems at multiple scales.
  • Piloting new models of sustainable and flexible investment in community-led approaches.
  • Supporting the establishment of collaborative governance structures.

This report is the culmination of extensive desktop research and interviews conducted as part of the Climate Discovery Project aiming to explore how climate change perpetuates inequity, document conditions that strengthen community capacity, and examine systemic interventions promoting equity and community leadership.

View and download full report here: Community-led Responses to Climate Change: Discovering Conditions for Equity and Social Justice PDF.

Calling all systems change thinkers and doers across Australia, the collaboration partners welcome your feedback.

By addressing the identified barriers and enhancing the enablers, there is an opportunity to build ecosystems that support climate justice and achieve equitable systems change.

Menzies Foundation

Through a systemic approach, the Foundation explores the culture infrastructure and capability platform to build resilience and new ways of thinking to inform the development of governance and capital flows to support the agency and autonomy of communities to flourish. This work is supported by an incubation process which leverages multiple expertise and perspectives to surface innovative solutions, trial, and test new approaches, and sense make and iterate in deep partnership with communities to drive impact.

Collaboration for Impact

Collaboration for Impact (CFI) is a globally recognised field builder for collaborative systems change. We believe the complex causes of inequity in Australia are most effectively addressed through collaboration across diverse stakeholders in ways that shifts power and centres decision making of people with lived experience. For over 10 years, CFI has incubated and amplified innovations for collaborative systems change.

Jesuit Social Services

With over 45 years of experience, Jesuit Social Services works to build strong, cohesive, and vibrant communities. The Centre for Just Places, established in 2021, focuses on place-based approaches to address social and ecological justice issues.

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