2020 HRI Seed Grant Recipient : Prakash Kashwan


The 2020 HRI Seed Grant has been awarded to Prakash Kashwan , Associate Professor in Political Science for his project “Economic and Social Rights Outcomes in a Climate Changed World”

About the Project:

Human rights law places responsibilities and duties on nation states to address climate change. However, these obligations have remained unfulfilled because of a confluence of factors. The developed countries have failed to act on their global commitments, while the developing countries have done little to protect their poorest citizens against the impacts of climate change. The failure to hold nation states accountable has presented a major roadblock against addressing the threats that climate change poses to human rights, especially Economic and Social Rights (ESRs), viz. human rights to food, water, subsistence, and health.  By obfuscating the lines of responsibility and accountability further, climate change reinforces the failures to protect and promote ESRs.

This research contributes analytical and evidentiary bases for the advancement of ESRs in the context of the multiple challenges related to climate change. To these ends, it pursues the following questions: How do domestic institutions – judiciary, development administration, and municipal governments – shape the enforcement of ESRs at subnational level? How do socioeconomic factors – race, ethnicity, caste, gender inequality, and economic inequality – mediate the effects of climate crisis on ESR achievements at the subnational level?  How could one leverage the human rights systems to aid national and subnational interventions designed to protect and promote the ESRs threatened by the ongoing climate crisis?

To pursue these questions, this research makes use of recent developments of online data analysis tools that allow researchers to pursue contextualized analyses of the questions of equity and justice vis-à-vis climate change and societal responses to climate change. However, most such tools, e.g. the Climate Equity Reference Calculator, are being used exclusively to produce aggregate international comparative analyses.  This research taps into a multi-level, multi-methods collaborative research strategy designed to help pave the way for a development of SERF style index for fulfillment of goals of climate justice.

The first round of quantitative analyses based on the newly compiled dataset will utilize techniques of multivariate statistical analyses, including factor analysis, to draw inferences about how political and economic institutions shape the effective enforcement of economic and social rights at the subnational level. These analyses will assist in the identification and mapping of subnational hotspots of threats to social and economic rights in India and the U.S. The qualitative component of the research, including field research in selected sites in India and the United States, will be used to gain deeper insights into contextualized intersections of national and subnational institutions, climate change impacts, and the ESR outcomes in specific regions that also count among climate hotspots.

About the Awardee:

Prakash Kashwan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut and Co-director of the research program on Economic and Social Rights (ESRG). He is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a research program that looks at the various intersections of inequality, environment, and development, specifically in the context of environmental and climate justice, climate governance, and global development. He is a member of the Expert Group for Scoping of Transformative Change Assessment at the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a Faculty Affiliate of the Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University, Bloomington, a Senior Research Fellow, Earth System Governance (ESG) Project, and co-convener of the Climate Justice Network. He is the author of Democracy in the Woods: Environmental Conservation and Social Justice in India, Tanzania, and Mexico (Oxford University Press, 2017), and an associate editor of the journal Progress in Development Studies. He has also contributed popular commentaries to the Washington Post and the Guardian, among others.