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Accepted Paper:

Harnessing Plurality of Knowledge to Advance Environmental Data Justice  
Mhairi Aitken (The Alan Turing Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Environmental Data Justice interrogates and challenges dominant power structures to address inequitable impacts of innovation. This paper draws on scholarship from Science and Technology Studies to explore the role of knowledge and power in environmental data justice.

Paper long abstract:

The environmental justice, climate justice and data justice movements have much in common: Each are concerned with interrogating and challenging dominant power structures and addressing the inequitable impacts of technologies and innovation. These movements seek to redress power imbalances in amplifying the voices and experiences of impacted communities.

Recognising the complementarity of data justice and environmental and climate justice movements in calling for participatory and recognitional justice along with distributive and restorative justice, there is an emerging body of work pulling these areas together and proposing a new field of Environmental Data Justice. Researchers in the emerging field of Environmental Data Justice have called attention to the importance of including diverse perspectives and interests within data collection or data science approaches in order to ensure data are used and interpreted in ways which reflect the interests and experiences of impacted communities. This requires combining community engagement with data collection to mobilise communities and incorporate local, situated, and contextual knowledge into environmental data science.

This paper draws on scholarship from Science and Technology Studies (STS), to explore the ways in which social, cultural, and political factors shape knowledge and “expertise” relating to data and the environment. STS highlights the importance of engaging with diverse sources and forms of knowledge to inform justice-oriented discussions of science and technology. This paper will explore the centrality of knowledge and power within environmental data justice and discuss the importance of harnessing plurality of knowledge to advance environmental data justice.

Panel P35a
‘The future belongs to us’: The data justice turn and the transformation of AI ethics
  Session 1 Tuesday 7 June, 2022, -