Transforming Social Inequalities through Inclusive Climate Action (TSITICA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cape Town
Department Name: Faculty of Science


The Agenda 2030 of the UN sets out ambitious challenges for society to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While all SDGs are important in Africa, those related to poverty (SDG 1, 8), inequality (SDG 5, 10) and climate change (SDG 13, 7) are especially relevant. Africa has some of the highest global poverty rates, levels of inequality, climate vulnerabilities, and shortfalls in energy access. Making substantial progress on all these SDGs will require action in any single SDG domain that maximises synergies and co-benefits and avoids as much as possible negative trade-offs.
Aims and Objectives:

Our project's overarching research question is: How do African societies design and implement climate action to improve sustainable livelihoods, and reduce both poverty and inequality? For example, all African countries need to adapt their food systems to be more resilient to climate change, but there are different routes to achieving this - such as investing in large-scale industrialised agriculture or supporting small-scale farmers to be more climate smart - which can result in very different livelihood benefits across society.

Our second objective is to build a network of African-UK researchers who can bring deep disciplinary expertise to bear on this interdisciplinary problem. In particular, our project brings together two newly-established ARUA Centres of Excellence (CoE) on climate change and inequalities, with world-leading expertise from the UK, to form this network and to work at the nexus of climate change, inequality and poverty.

Our Approach:

To address the climate-poverty-inequality nexus in Africa we have created an interdisciplinary research team with expertise in development economics, livelihoods, poverty and inequality, climate policy and governance, energy and mitigation, and adaptation. We will answer our research questions through comparative research across three country settings - Ghana, Kenya and South Africa - that will allow us to synthesise commonalities and differences across these different contexts.

Our approach is multi-scale and multi-dimensional, seeking to understand i) the political, economic and policy context within which transformative climate actions are enabled (or prevented); ii) how socio-economic and climate change policies have affected livelihood trajectories of different groups in society; iii) the potential outcomes from climate change actions, with a focus on how these outcomes vary across social groups, especially between men and women, but also social differences such as education, income, and land tenure; iv) how existing climate actions are working (or not) to build sustainable livelihood trajectories for communities; v) understanding the country-wide social and economic benefits of different climate actions, when applied at scale. Our project will involve close collaboration with leaders in policy and practice, and also with communities, so that their needs and priorities inform our research, and so that our research in turn shifts their thinking and actions.

Project Outcomes:

- A well-established, pan-African research network that has multiple collaborations within this project, and in new projects leveraged out of this project.
- Evidence on the synergies and trade-offs between climate action, poverty and inequality.
- Evidence on how specific national priority climate actions can be designed to deliver co-benefits for livelihoods and reducing poverty and inequality.
- Ultimately, climate policies and associated actions to be transformative in improving livelihoods and well-being, reducing poverty and inequality, rather than business as usual at national and global political levels.

Planned Impact

The activities outlined in the TSITICA project address sustainable development challenges at the nexus of climate change, sustainable livelihoods, poverty and inequality to understand how Climate Change Actions can be socio-economically transformative. Impacts are expected to be far reaching, especially in the three core partner countries; South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. Three key impacts are identified and described below:
i) Creation of a new interdisciplinary network of researchers: The TSITICA project will catalyse a new interdisciplinary network of researchers. This network will include research staff and students at the two ARUA CoEs, UK partner institutions, and other universities in partner countries. This impact will be achieved through enabling and structuring participation in joint gender-balanced research teams, training workshops, webinars, synthesis and co-writing activities, research exchanges, co-supervision of postdocs and research students, and joint sessions at international conferences.
ii) Awareness, recognition and explicit detailing of synergies and trade-offs at the nexus of Climate Change Actions, Sustainable Livelihoods, and Poverty and Inequality: The project will generate robust evidence and insights on the two-way synergies and trade-offs that can play out at between Climate Change Action and multidimensional poverty and inequality. This evidence will raise awareness among policy and practice decision makers of how Climate Change Actions can be socio- economically transformative. The activities will also grow recognition of the importance of integrated thinking between SDGs, especially climate, poverty and inequality. This will benefit green and brown industries and business associations, government, civil society, academia, and NGOs. Engagement will be achieved through close, sustained relationships and interactions, at individual and group level, with key actors in policy and practice at national and local levels.
iii) Changes in policy and practice: Potentially one of the most impactful results of the TSITICA project will be its ability to effect change in policy and practice. This will come as government, business and civil society gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and potential risks that different climate change actions offer in terms of building sustainable livelihoods, building prosperity and reducing inequality. Evidence on how climate actions impact on livelihood trajectories, and how anti-poverty and inequality policies intersect with policies to address climate action will help inform decision-makers. This evidence will be communicated through project outputs, e.g. the TSITICA catalogue of climate mitigation and adaptation interventions and their potential distributional socio-economic impacts. The integration of the empirical evidence into micro-macro-economic models will demonstrate the potential for specific interventions, if implemented at scale, to impact on income distribution in households, communities and the national economy. This enables the quantification of the impact of climate actions on the wider economy. National departments will be invited to participate in joint modelling/scenario exercises to explore the economy-wide implications of different policy choices. Lastly, the development, collection and dissemination of case studies that provide evidence on the outcomes of existing climate actions on livelihoods, poverty and inequality will provide practical examples for policymakers and practitioners. Beneficiaries will be engaged through demonstration workshops, site visits, and the dissemination of toolkits/practical training for climate intervention project design.
Ultimately, the TSITICA project aims to achieve, by inspiring climate action by our evidence, insights and outreach, improved livelihoods and equitable benefits from climate interventions for the most vulnerable and poor, contributing to the Agenda 2030 ambition of leaving no one behind


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