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Royal Roads University Event: Climate Change as Structural Violence

June 29, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Image of person holding sign that reads, "There is no Planet B"

Event Details

Globally, we are facing a multitude of intersecting and calamitous issues, including an erosion of trust in state and non-state institutions, global health catastrophes, international economic and political instability, and growing inequality. These are underpinned by the concerning state of our planet with the unabated climate crisis, which disproportionately affects children. This compels us to expand our thinking in new ways and look to alternative approaches to redress wicked global issues.

Exploring structural violence as a conceptual framework for the impacts of climate change and environmental emergencies is one such way. Structural violence can be defined as the [political and economic] systems and forces – public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms – that work to perpetuate violence and inequities (Farmer et al, 2006). Such systems are often mutually reinforcing, acting together to inflict suffering on populations, experienced most gravely by the socially vulnerable (Farmer 2003). We propose that this be extended to the violence and inequities related to children and childhood. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with public and private sector wealth and power to endure and adapt over time. Structural violence related to climate change is not something that a few people or institutions effect. Instead, it is evolving as a critical feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist.

For decades we have experienced unprecedented expansion of the understanding and acceptance of human rights, particularly children’s rights, and we see an increasing diversity of voices impacting global discourse, including innovative youth activists. Beyond the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), new areas of environmental child rights activism have emerged, including Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future, the Sunrise Movement, and the Extinction Rebellion. Although we are also more aware of the multitude of ways that violence impacts children, little attention has been paid to the ways structural violence have impacted children and young people across the planet as the climate crisis persists. Lee (2019) is one of the scholars who framed environmental issues, including climate change as a kind of structural violence. Within the nexus between structural violence, climate justice, and youth voice, we weave together strands of the local and creative actions young people are taking to fight for a more hospitable planet with a coherent reflection of the impact of climate violence on children.

As part of the North American Consultation for Children’s Right to a Healthy Environment for the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, this symposium invites the audience to join Dr. Kathleen Manion, Royal Road University’s Program Head of the Graduate Certificate in Transforming Child Protection to Wellbeing, for a conversation with some leading thinkers on an interdisciplinary exploration of youth, climate, justice, and violence.


For more information and details on how to register, click here.


Prof. Jeffrey Goldhagen – Professor & Chief, Division of Community and Societal Pediatrics; Program Director, Community and Societal Pediatrics Fellowship, University of Florida

Dr. Jennifer Leaning – Senior Research Fellow, FXB Center, Harvard University, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, (ret.) Professor of the Practice at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Victor Karunan – Former Deputy Representative and Senior Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Malaysia – Visiting Lecturer/Foreign Expert, Social Policy and Development, Faculty of Social Administration, Thammasat University and Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University


June 29, 2021
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


Virtual Event – See Details


Royal Roads University