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What do researchers mean when talking about justice? An empirical review of justice narratives in global change research

Dirth Elizabeth, Frank Biermann, Agni Kalfagianni. 2020. What do researchers mean when talking about justice? An empirical review of justice narratives in global change research. Earth System Governance Journal. In press


The study of planetary justice is an emerging research field that explores questions of justice on a planetary scale, particularly in the context of the profound global environmental and systemic challenges our earth system is facing. The connection between environmental conditions, human well-being, and justice and equity has been established over the past decades through both academic research, and advocacy and campaigning. However, despite the growing attention and priority of this concept, divergences exist between what is meant by ‘justice’ by different actors in all arenas, including academia. This article uses a framework first developed by Biermann & Kalfagianni (2016, 2018) for empirically analysing what concepts of justice are present in global change research, how this has changed over time, and what patterns or contradictions can be observed. By exploring what concepts, principles and mechanisms of justice emerge from global change research, the paper supports the further development of a ‘planetary justice’ research agenda in the study of earth system governance.

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