Inequality in the face of COVID-19: how grassroots communities are taking action

Date: Thursday, 2 July 2020
Where: Online
Market traders wearing face masks sell produce

Sellers continue work at a vegetable market in Madagascar during the COVID-19 crisis, part of the informal economy in Antananarivo City (Photo: E. Raboanaly/ILO, via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

COVID-19 has demonstrated stark social and economic inequalities, with vulnerable and marginalised groups being disproportionately impacted. These vulnerable communities are at the frontline of any global crisis, including the climate emergency. During this webinar speakers working with social movements and grassroots organisations examined how organisations are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what we can learn.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the inequalities for groups that are particularly vulnerable to disasters, such as female-headed households, children, people with disabilities, indigenous and ethnic minority groups, landless tenants, migrant workers, older people, and other socially marginalised groups.

People living in densely populated informal settlements fall into this highly vulnerable category, with poor access to public services including health care, water, and sanitation. It is these communities that are also on the frontline of the climate crisis.

This online event brought together speakers from social movements and networks working with indigenous people, people living in informal settlements and women working in the informal economy, to reflect on the response of their communities to COVID-19.

The speakers reviewed inequalities in impacts and coping strategies, and discussed mechanisms to address inequality and manage future risks and shocks.

How do we make room for innovation, how do we become more accepting of risk and increased experimentation? And what we can learn that will help us tackle the climate crisis?

About the series

London Climate Action Week logoThis is the second online event in a series hosted by IIED and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) on the climate crisis and COVID-19 - working together for the change we need which will be hosted between June and October 2020. This event is also hosted working in partnership with ICCCAD and Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) and is also a part of the London Climate Action Week series of online events.

In conversation with colleagues around the world, from civil society organisations, universities and governments, this series will look at what we can learn to make us more ready for the new ways of working we need to tackle the climate crisis.

Building resilience, capacity, and adaptation have always provided a pathway to change – how can we use what we know and have achieved so far to ramp up our climate ambition? Drawing on lessons learned through capacity building, advocacy, and grassroots action, how can we catalyse a different future?

See other events in the series:


Juliette Tunstall (, internal engagement and external events officer