Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Environmental Justice Toolkit

Prepared by the Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), this toolkit provides an overview of environmental justice principles and outlines a series of approaches to better achieve environmental justice goals in the Washington, DC metro area. For each approach, the toolkit lists a number of additional resources that can be used to operationalize the recommendation.

The nine approaches outlined in the toolkit include:

  1. Identifying Potentially Vulnerable Populations: The toolkit recommends mapping potentially vulnerable populations and assessing how they could be affected by environmental pollution and policies. It also recommends consulting community leaders to ensure that any mapping exercise is accurate.
  2. Providing Meaningful Engagement Opportunities: Meaningful community engagement “can foster collaborative, innovative, and integrated community solutions.” Engagement should be a two-way dialogue between governments and citizens, and should be accessible and inclusive to all stakeholders. Additionally, governments should avoid set agendas in favor of creating flexible and responsive processes.
  3. Assessing Community Impacts and Needs: Impact assessments can outline and define social, health, environmental, ecological, and economic impacts from climate change and other risk factors.
  4. Developing Metrics: Metrics, developed with community input, can provide feedback on the effectiveness of policies on underserved communities. They should be “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.”
  5. Providing Data, Information, and Resources for Communities: putting information in the hands of communities can empower citizens to make informed decisions.
  6. Using Citizen Science: Citizen science involves collaboration between scientists and volunteers to produce scientific research. It can be a tool to establish engagement and enhance data availability in underserved communities.
  7. Developing Community Leadership: Governments can provide technical support and educational opportunities aimed at ensuring people are aware of their rights and know how to influence government decision-making.
  8. Supporting Economic and Workforce Development: The report recommends “developing an environmental science pipeline for youth, supporting green job training programs, fostering clean industries in the communities, and investing in [environmental justice] communities in a way that provides economic benefit to the entire community”
  9. Mainstreaming Environmental Justice into Public Planning and Programs: Environmental justice should be a fundamental part of the overall planning process.

In addition to resources associated with the nine approaches, the toolkit provides a more general list of resources and enabling legislation related to environmental justice as well. 

 

Publication Date: July 27, 2017

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