Re-imagining development practice: Mainstreaming justice into planning frameworks

Ritwika Basu, Amir Bazaz | 2019


Theorisation of climate justice in the context of India as a marker of the Global South is replete with contestations regarding framing, scale and actors. These urge for re-imagining “justice” and the imperatives of improving procedural and distributive justice. While the failures of distributive justice manifest in the practice and politics of social protection and welfare, the absence of explicit mention of (climate) justice as a stand-alone frame often obscures agency, representation, and oversimplifies the diverse terrain of climate injustice at scale. These (in)justices become pronounced at local scales, widening gaps between lived realities of climate (in)justice and the overarching framing discourse. Further, the procedural aspects of climate justice particularly remain rather ambiguous in practice. The study uses the case of Siliguri to unpack the local practices of justice making. We examine the role of non-state actors as key mediators of just outcomes by reinforcing equity and agency, in tight policy spaces. We argue that questions of justice need to be repositioned to gain comparable legitimacy to vulnerability (or poverty) reduction goals. Otherwise, resilience and adaptation processes at systemic scale pose the risk of perpetuating injustice and systematic exclusion of the marginal from the process of articulating and claiming justice.