The IIASA/EQU Justice Framework comprehensively outlines justice in its multiple aspects with the aim to facilitate justice assessment across diverse research and policy contexts. It is meant to be accessible across disciplines, powerful in terms of capacity to express a variety of justice ideas, and modular so researchers can select and deploy the aspects that are most appropriate or useful.

  • This Framework aims to provide a consistent way of using justice terminology in the context of research and policymaking. Moreover, it is broad and flexible enough to be applied to diverse contexts and tailored to a variety of spatial and temporal scales. It is also modular, with independent components that can be applied as appropriate to research or policy contexts.
  • This Framework provides a systematic backdrop to the transparent identification and description of justice issues, to enable explicit justice assessment and the design of more successful transition policies.
  • This Framework is not normative in the sense of defining a specific view of what is just. Rather, it allows researchers and policy makers to reveal often-implicit justice aspects as well as communicate justice ideas using consistent terminology.
justice_framework © Christopher Wong | IIASA

The framework remains at a high and abstract level, as specification requires contextual details, which depend on the application at hand. Alternative forms of justice may be of varying relevance in given applications; however, in principle, each application can be scrutinized through the lens of each form of justice albeit to a varying degree of usefulness.

Context and scope of justice

Context refers to the area where justice is being explored. It may be a specific sub discipline or subject matter, for instance: energy justice, climate justice, migratory justice, criminal justice etc. The Framework is sufficiently basic to allow the user to apply it to whichever context they are working in.

Specifying the spatial resolution at which justice is assessed is another step towards specifying the context. Space refers here both to geographic spaces (horizontal) and to levels of governance (vertical). Justice may be examined at individual or household level, at a sub-national or national resolution, and at a regional or global scale. All of which has implications for further assessing various forms of justice.

The temporal scale specifies the period for which justice is assessed. This may be looking backwards and/or forward (in annual, decadal, or generational steps), but could also be a snapshot of the present.

Intergenerational justice is a specific form of temporal justice, which refers to whether and what we owe to or what is due to future generations.

With respect to entities considered, justice is a social construct and often has an anthropocentric scope. However, most environmental ethicists favor including non-human entities in justice considerations. The scope could then include all beings capable of suffering (sentientism) or all living beings (biocentrism). 

Forms of justice

Forms (sometimes called “dimensions” or “pillars”) of justice, are the main level of categorization of justice. There has been no definitive set of forms established. Distributional and procedural justice have been two dominant forms in policy discussions, with a trend to focus particularly on distributional justice in the climate discourse. When evaluating climate policies, it is more informative to consider multiple forms of justice.

distributional justice © Christopher Wong | IIASA

Distributional justice is the form of justice concerned with the distribution of benefits and burdens amongst the members of the group where justice is being analyzed. The metric describes what is being distributed, e.g. incomes, opportunities, natural resources, emissions rights, health, taxes, obligations,  pollution, refugees.

procedural justice © Christopher Wong | IIASA

Procedural justice is about the fairness of processes. We distinguish between justice in distributional processes, and decision-making processes (including in policy and research). Interactional Justice and epistemic justice can also be considered aspects of procedural justice. The former refers to the standards of treatment in a decision-making process, and the extent that the reasoning behind procedures  is adequately explained. The latter is where certain kinds of knowledge are prioritized over equally credible ones.

recognitional justice © Christopher Wong | IIASA

Most fundamentally, recognitional justice is about identifying who the legitimate claimants of justice are. Practically, recognitional justice often means duly representing and considering cultures, values, and context of those affected. Recognitional justice then is concerned with the proper apportionment of dignity and respect.

corrective justice © Christopher Wong | IIASA

Corrective justice is about what is owed to those who have previously been wronged. A corrected state may be achieved through redistribution, retribution, or restoration.

transitional justice © Christopher Wong | IIASA

Transitional justice considers how we make trade-offs on the route to creating a more just world, and how we sequence the implementation of (potentially unjust) policies/decisions to achieve a just outcome.