Kjersti Grosvold Maudal (The Norwegian Union of Social Educators and Social Workers (FO) and VID Specialized University)


Topic: Contemporary challenges in Social Work – Facing the climate crisis

Language: English 


Social work promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. (IFSW) I argue that this mandate can only be fulfilled through sustainable development or in this context, sustainable social work. The UN development goals are highly relevant to prevent social problems. We can no longer ignore the link between social problems and climate change. Climate change causes hotter temperatures, more severe storms, rising ocean, loss of species, not enough food, more health risks and poverty and displacement (UN) We are facing a serious series of crisis. Marginalized groups are the most vulnerable in any crisis. How can we, social workers meet this huge challenge we are all facing?

Green social work, Eco-social work and sustainable social work have had increasing focus in the last decade. It is challenging to adapt to new challenges and change focus. How can we as social workers work sustainable and include the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs? How can we in practice acknowledge that human beings are part of the natural world, and we respect the specific values of all forms of life, including non-human species also in social work?

First, I think that many of the answers to these questions can be found if we could include the knowledge, tradition, and wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the world. And that we learn to live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet.

Secondly, Including the environment is in the nature of theories of social work. The challenge is to expand the understanding of context and environment to earth and climate.

Finally, it is a need of new ethical guidelines to guide us through challenging times where the need of both nature and future generations should be included in ethical considerations.