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Key Objective: 8.3 Environmental Justice Plan
The iCAP 2020, objective 8.3 is: “Develop a collaborative plan for environmental justice that will assess metro area resilience and actively address related issues. The plan will be written and publicized by FY24.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is iSEE. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for the Environmental Justice Plan.
Many strategies implemented in pursuit of our coordinated biodiversity, rainwater, and drought management plans will positively impact local communities. For example, there is a proven correlation between increased urban greenspace and mental health benefits. Moreover, sustainability is holistic, demanding attention to the societal and economic components of a community as well as the purely environmental. It is our goal to address this full triad head-on.
Objective #8.3 focuses on the human component of climate resilience, with an emphasis on communities that have been historically marginalized and underserved, and are therefore disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, heat waves, air pollution, and public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
To develop a thoughtful and comprehensive environmental justice plan, we must identify existing programs within our local communities (which currently operate independently) to recognize common principles and points of contingency. We aim to collaborate with other entities across campus to do so, potentially including the Humanities Research Institute (HRI), the School of Social Work (SSW), and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (OVCDEI).
Following this initial step, students and faculty members will conduct environmental vulnerability assessments of campus and local populations, identifying the communities that are most at risk and assessing opportunities to provide valuable, sustainable solutions.
Finally, we will take the necessary steps to implement economically and environmentally feasible solutions in vulnerable communities, focusing particularly on resources to improve food security (e.g., shuttle systems to grocery stores, food trucks, and community gardens). We will also identify locations where cooling centers are needed for residents, and seek opportunities to incorporate educational components wherever possible.