Living on the Edge: Young People, Social Work and Climate Policy and Action


  • Lena Dominelli Social Work and MSc Programme in Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid at the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom



climate action, climate change, climate crisis, young people, social work education, empowerment


Today’s young people will be on the frontline of experiencing the worst effects of the climate crisis as they age in
a world in which climate-induced disasters will be increasing in intensity and frequency unless ‘net zero’ is reached
before the current deadline of 2050. The case for urgently addressing the climate crisis by 2030 has been made
by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since the Paris Agreement in 2015. Years later, and
with the disappointing outcomes of the 2021 United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 meeting in Glasgow, Scotland and COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt in 2022,
little has changed. Politicians fill the airwaves with fine words about reaching ‘net zero’. Meanwhile, countries like
India, the 3rd largest polluter do not aim to meet ‘net zero’ until 2070! Young people have limited engagement in
formal policy-making locally, nationally, and globally, so their voices remain largely ignored. Practitioners, seldom
engage young people in climate action. This professional disinterest in young people’s experiences of the climate
crisis and aspirations for a net zero future must end. This article focuses on young people’s voices, research and
action, including their involvement in COP26 activities in Glasgow. Young people, as agentic persons, can make
decisions about climate change, and are well-placed to do this if given the opportunity. Social workers can support
and mobilise young people in climate action and demand that climate change be included in the social work


Author Biography

Lena Dominelli, Social Work and MSc Programme in Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid at the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom

Professor Lena Dominelli, PhD, CQSW, AcSS,  holds a Chair in Social Work and is Programme Director for the MSc in Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid at the University of Stirling, Scotland.  She was previously Co-Director at the Institute of Hazards, Risk and Resilience (2010-2016) at Durham University, England.  She has a specific interest in projects on climate change and extreme weather events including drought, floods, cold snaps and wildfires; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; disaster interventions; vulnerability and resilience; community engagement; coproduction and participatory action research.  Her research projects include funding from the ESRC, EPSRC, NERC, the Department of International Development, and Wellcome Trust. Lena is a prolific writer and has published widely in social work, social policy and sociology. Her latest single authored work is Social Work During Times of Disasters (Routledge, 2023). She currently chairs the IASSW Committee on Disaster Interventions, Climate Change and Sustainability and has represented the social work profession at the United Nations discussions on climate change, since Cancun, Mexico in 2010.  She has received various honours for her work.


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How to Cite

Dominelli, L. . (2024). Living on the Edge: Young People, Social Work and Climate Policy and Action. Asean Social Work Journal, 12(1).




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