Right now, the Mediterranean is on fire and scientists have today confirmed that this is as a result of climate change. Local communities from the Greek Islands to Spain are mobilising to try to protect their communities and to look after the vulnerable.
This year, the International Association for Community Development (IACD) celebrates its 70th birthday. One of its major achievements has been the International Standards for Community Development Practice, agreed globally in 2018. IACD’s vision is for a community development practice founded on a clear set of values including sustainable development and climate and social justice, translated into a strategic priority in its 2020 – 2024 Strategic Plan.
At this time of climate and ecological breakdown we need to mobilise the power of local communities to address the climate emergency and climate justice. The temperature of the ocean is warming to unprecedented levels, leading to bleaching of coral reefs, higher sea levels, melting polar ice and growing oceanic acidity. Scientists warn that humanity is likely to breach the 1.5 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels by 2027, with potentially catastrophic effects across the globe.
The importance of local and indigenous communities in tackling carbon emissions is highlighted by the 2005 Millennium Eco Assessment, the IPPC Adaption and Mitigation Report 2014, the 2019 International Platform on Biodiversity and Eco-System Services, and the 2022 United Nations Environmental Programme report detailing local examples.
What part can communities play in the face of such daunting challenges? My recently published book, Journey to Hopeful Futures: a Handbook, sets out a range of approaches which can mobilise and strengthen local communities. In a local sub regional example in the North West of England, communities can be seen working together – from the efforts of community groups in my local parks to plant trees – from 47, to 470 and potentially 4,700 – to a consortium of NGOs and charities within Greater Manchester working to support communities in tackling their own local green projects through the ‘In our Nature’ initiative and on to the NGO Groundwork helping communities tackle both climate justice and the climate emergency, including a response to the cost of living crisis facing so many communities.
Despite all this good work, a pioneering initiative to create a community development vision for the Nort West in 2011 was halted by the central government policy of cutbacks in public spending and the resulting destruction of so many community development initiatives.
These local impacts – for good and ill – highlight the key importance of the work of IACD in agreeing the International Standards in Community Development Practice, bringing community development practitioners together and sharing information and learning on a global basis. Happy 70th Birthday IACD. Long may IACD flourish!