Organizations and Citizens Building Back Better? Climate Resilience, Social Justice & COVID-19 Recovery in Preston, UK

Parry, Ioan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1847-3036, Farrier, Alan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4989-2209, Dooris, Mark T orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5986-1660, Whitton, John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6391-5740 and Manley, Julian Y orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2548-8033 (2024) Organizations and Citizens Building Back Better? Climate Resilience, Social Justice & COVID-19 Recovery in Preston, UK. Sustainability, 16 (7).

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The impacts of COVID-19 on cities across the United Kingdom were significant and diverse, whilst ongoing climate-related, sustainability and social challenges were highlighted and sometimes amplified. Lessons from organizational and citizen experiences and their responses have the potential to improve local sustainability and resilience to global events, hence they must be examined. We report findings from a project conducted in Preston (UK) exploring how COVID-19 recovery might accelerate organization- and citizen-led action for the wellbeing of people, places and planet. The project used a settings approach to public health and combined qualitative research with conceptual development; the former involved online interviews and group dialogues with members of several local anchor institutions, whilst the latter examined synergy between community wealth building, Doughnut Economics and place-based climate action. We explore two themes 19 anchor institutions’ strategic priorities and plans; ‘building back better’ and its future sustainability implications. These revealed four cross-cutting aspects – wellbeing; tackling societal inequalities; collaborative working; and COVID-19 as a catalyst for transformative change. Informed by ‘Doughnut-Shaped Community Wealth Building’, organizations are encouraged to: embed commitment to equitable and inclusive climate action; consolidate the co-operative approach developed during the pandemic at strategic, operational and grassroots levels; take a nuanced approach to future work policies and practices; and work across anchor institutions to advocate collectively for supportive national-level policy to build a sustainable, wellbeing economy.

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