State of Oregon Climate Equity Blueprint

Released in December 2020, the State of Oregon Climate Equity Blueprint is a living document which identifies best practices on how to prioritize equity in the formation of state policies, processes, and programs aimed at addressing climate change. Four “Climate Equity Blueprint Tools” are used to guide programmatic staff and officials across Oregon’s state agencies in the integration of equity into climate progress: best practices; guiding questions; case studies; and resources. These tools are employed to cover key areas for advancing climate and racial equity: building internal capacity; embedding equity and accountability into design; leading meaningful community engagement; and improving data collection and use. The Blueprint was produced along with the State of Oregon’s 2020 Climate Change Adaptation Framework (CCAF) in order to ensure the delivery of equitable climate change adaptation programs to frontline communities.

All four topic areas are outlined and strengthened through the use of each of the Blueprint tools. “Best Practices” provide general guidelines for state agency practitioners. “Guiding Questions” encourage practitioners to think critically about the impacts of their decisions and actions for addressing climate and racial equity. “Case Studies” illustrate relevant governmental examples of work in specific areas being carried out. “Resources” provide hyperlinks to various reports and toolkits that can assist state agencies in the development of their equity work. 

The section of the Report on building internal capacity outlines the importance of developing internal staff capacity through facilitating intercultural competency amongst staff as well as updating internal policies and practices to better promote climate and racial equity into state systems. One best practice includes the State coordination of an annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference, which offers training opportunities through iLearn. Participation in this conference and access to iLearn trainings are strongly encouraged, and the Blueprint recommends that intercultural competency and racial justice workshops be institutionalized regularly. In order to create a “community of practice” and coordinate inter-agency efforts, another best practice recommends that each agency have a full time Environmental Justice (EJ) Coordinator. One case study analyzed by the Blueprint is the Capitol Collaborative on Race and Equity (CCORE), which builds capacity for California State employees, through a learning cohort to develop racial equity plans, and a second cohort for entities seeking technical assistance in implementing racial equity strategies.

Embedding equity and accountability into design encourages integrating equity into climate frameworks at the beginning of each process to ensure successful implementation. Best practices include centering equity, rather than equality, to ensure that the most impacted communities in Oregon are prioritized for programs like targeted funding and location set-asides for grant programs. One relevant case study is the Portland Clean Energy (Community Benefits Fund) which creates a city grant program for clean energy and job training prospects, and is designed to benefit frontline communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. The PCEF prioritizes equity for frontline communities, sustainable job creation, climate resilience, and a model for government-community partnership.

The leading meaningful community engagement section involves drawing on the lived experiences of tribal communities, communities of color, low-income, and many rural communities to develop more inclusive decision-making processes. This section prescribes that agencies pursue opportunities that allow communities to identify their own needs and visions for the future. The agencies should adopt an “adaptive co-management” role to collaborate on issues of importance and provide technical and financial assistance to inform state level decision-making based on the needs of communities. For example, the “Oregon Water Resources Department and other natural resources agencies have partnered with four places to test a place-based, community-centered approach to integrated water resources planning and management.” Collaborative groups are convened to identify and implement place-based water planning solutions and understanding of future water needs.

The improving data collection and use portion of the Blueprint underscores the importance of using data to identify climate vulnerable communities and to assess their needs. Agencies should standardize, integrate, and share data transparently, while also facilitating community-based participatory research that shapes data and products to be more responsive to local and culturally-specific priorities. For example, the Climate and Health Program and the Oregon Community Health Workers Association held a series of listening sessions to ascertain specific communities’ perspectives on climate change and social resilience.

The Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework, and its Climate Equity Framework, will become part of the Oregon Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, qualifying the State to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance and mitigation funds to augment investments towards building resilient infrastructure.

Publication Date: January 2021

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  • Best practice
  • Case study

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