Climate Justice and Flooding in England

PhD student Juliet De Little portrait
Juliet de Little
PhD student
Environment, infrastructure and sustainability; Urban inequalities and social justice
Juliet is exploring the potential of a 'flood justice' framework for analysing flood risk management in England.

Supervised by Dr Liz Sharp, Dr M McGuinness and Dr Steve Connelly.

The origins of climate justice theory stem from grassroots action by marginalised groups (see Klimaforum 09), and the term broadly seeks to contextualise climate change in the understanding that the people most affected by climate change are both the least responsible and have the least capacity to manage. While climate justice has not commonly been explored in the ‘Global North’, unequal impacts of climate change are already apparent in the UK with correlations between areas of deprivation and high flood risk.

Drawing on experience from climate campaigning and academic theory, I have developed a ‘flood justice’ framework for analysing flood risk management (FRM) and experiences of flooding in England. The framework is made of three phases: justice as recognition, procedural justice and the capabilities theory. Justice as recognition is concerned with who is considered and who is left out of decisions, procedural justice is concerned with decision-making methodologies (e.g. hierarchical, consensus, iterative) and the capability theory is a set of ‘capabilities’ that Nussbaum considers required in order to achieve full human flourishing. Despite the development of this framework for application in flooding research, the principles draw from broad climate justice theory and I believe it to be flexible and widely applicable. I will explore the potential of the flood justice framework in FRM in England by using a case study of a single council. During my fieldwork, I will interview publics and policy actors to understand the potential use and content of a flood justice framework.

Alongside the main focus of my PhD topic, I am interested in green infrastructure and placemaking, sustainable behaviour of the university, and community organising.

I previously studied for an MEng in Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield during which time I had brief spells of working as a bridge engineer and a drainage engineer. Alongside my undergraduate course I was involved in campaigns for Divestment from Fossil Fuels at the University of Sheffield, the Divest Parliament campaign, Electronics Watch and Divest Barclays. After university I had a year out coordinating a radical grocery shop and meeting space and had an internship with Kounkuey Design Initiative in Nairobi, through Engineers Without Borders. These experiences lead me to combine my flood engineering experience with my climate campaigning experience, and my broad PhD area: exploring how principles of climate justice can be applied to flooding in England.