The Role of Social Work in Climate Change
Social work is a profession that has long advocated to advance the rights of vulnerable populations, reduce systemic inequities and promote long-term social change. However, the profession is missing the opportunity to explicitly equip social work students and those in the field with an understanding of the connection between climate change and injustice. Around the world, climate refugees are forced to migrate following unpredictable environmental disasters, communities suffer at the hands of environmental racism. Additionally, rising globalization contributes to the economic and ecological exploitation of developing nations. Social workers have an ethical obligation to work towards environmental justice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Social workers can provide therapeutic support to individuals displaced by climate disaster, join with and mobilize local citizens in policy advocacy efforts, and act as a link between legislators and those directly impacted by climate change by holding government officials accountable for prioritizing climate action. Environmental justice must also be an indispensable dimension of the social work profession to truly advance long-term social change. This paper will examine the ways in which social workers can support those impacted by climate change at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.