by Lois DeBacker and Jacqueline Patterson

For years, we’ve heard the calls for more diversity in the environmental movement. It’s certainly true that the “big green” groups — and their boards — remain mostly white. But the fact is, there is plenty of diversity among those who are fighting for a cleaner, healthier environment.

Across the U.S., environmental justice groups are shutting down coal-fired power plants, getting the lead out of drinking water, advancing access to sustainable and healthy housing, and engaging in other actions to address a plethora of environmental injustices. This includes efforts to mitigate climate change while preparing for its impacts. …


by David Coursen

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Given all that we know about racial injustice and its devastating effects on the health of people and the planet, it is shocking how few resources the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has devoted to promoting environmental justice.

In 2019, the EPA budget was 1,500 times the size of its environmental justice budget, just one staff position in 650 was devoted to this issue and a mere $1 of every $2,000 in the EPA’s grants budget was earmarked for environmental justice. The Biden administration is moving aggressively to remedy this.

A first step in tackling environmental justice was the president’s January…


by Anne Perrault

As the planet warms, Annapolis, Md., faces rising seas, supercharged storms and costly damage to public and private property. Worried about the city’s ability to pay its bills, Annapolis officials recently sued more than 20 oil and gas companies, demanding financial help for the damage. The lawsuit, like those filed by other cities and states, claims the companies knew their fossil fuels would contribute to a changing climate and catastrophic impacts.

While these suits slowly wind through the courts, financial regulators are sounding similar alarms, observing that cities and other public entities face major financial risks from a changing climate…


by Peggy Shepard

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos built his empire on the shrewd use of data and a knack for seizing the moment. We hope he and the newly appointed president of his Earth Fund, Andrew Steer, adhere to that strategy when considering how to invest the balance of the foundation’s $10 billion to tackle the climate crisis.

Steer has promised to “emphasize social justice,” noting that “climate change disproportionately hurts poor and marginalized communities.” Such thinking, however, did not seem to guide the Earth Fund when it announced its first round of grantees last November. …


by Carla Taylor and Michele D. Johnson

In the wake of a tumultuous year, many are newly aware of the structural racism at the root of American society. Across the nation, businesses, nonprofits and other institutions are seeking to identify and dismantle racist structures and practices. It’s a daunting task.

Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. A diverse group of nonprofits working in community development, arts and culture have walked the antiracist path for years. These groups harness the creativity and imaginative power of artists and residents to envision and build a more inclusive future. …


by Jacqui Patterson

A “Just Transition” is the North Star for those seeking an equitable, sustainable future. But what does that transition look like, in our homes and our day-to-day lives? To answer that question, NAACP launches its “Climate-Smart Household Certification” with an inaugural award at the home of Kathy and David Egland on Tuesday, April 6th in Gulfport, Mississippi.

On the heels of Black History and Women’s History Months, and two weeks in advance of Earth Day, this award illuminates pathways we can all take to address climate change, which disproportionately affects African-American communities and women. At the same time, the award…


by Daniel Imhoff and Christina Badaracco

It seems like a paradox: 50 million Americans are hungry, yet 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. In fact, this paradox illuminates chronic problems in our nation’s industrial food system.

Food waste increased dramatically in 2020, as consumers changed their behavior by stockpiling shelf-stable goods, ordering more food online, and eating more at home. That meant that farmers and food-service suppliers lost their biggest customers in restaurants and institutions. At the same time, meat processing facilities became bottlenecks as COVID-19 outbreaks slowed or shut down production.

As food waste rose to unprecedented levels, America’s food…


by Laurie Mazur

The upheavals of the past year — the pandemic, recession, protests over racial injustice and a violent insurrection at the Capitol — have laid bare the great fissures in American society. Today we are a nation deeply divided by income, race, and class. Amid calls for healing and justice, President Biden promises to “build back better,” with development that promotes racial and economic equity.

But what does that mean, exactly?

One answer comes from a soon-to-be-built park in Washington, D.C. Constructed on an abandoned bridge across the Anacostia River, the 11th Street Bridge Park will link upscale Capitol Hill with…


by Katie S. Martin

As the pandemic throws millions of Americans out of work, cars line up for miles outside food banks across the country. COVID-19 did not create the crisis of hunger in the United States, but it has exposed its root cause. Hint: it’s not a shortage of food.

Even before the pandemic, 35 million Americans were food insecure, meaning they were not able to access and afford enough nutritious food for their families. And many more people were one or two paychecks away from needing help.

During COVID-19, we have awakened to racial injustices and systemic inequalities that put certain groups…


by Cheryl E. Wasserman

President Trump’s most significant unmet promise was an infrastructure initiative that never happened.

Now, President-elect Joseph Biden promises to jumpstart the economy, help working families, tackle climate change, build environmental resilience and create real environmental justice. Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan for infrastructure investment can put meat on the bones of these big promises. The momentum of the first 100 days is the key to their success.

The days of major investments in our interstate highway system, dams, rail and, more recently, wastewater treatment, are long gone. Infrastructure investment consumed 4.2 percent of GDP in 1930 but fell to 1.5…

Urban Resilience Project

A changing climate means a changing society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project (URP) is committed to a greener, fairer future. www.islandpress.org/URP

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