For decades, poor, racially segregated, and historically disinvested neighborhoods have borne the brunt of environmental injustices—disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards, like pollution and climate-related disasters, as well as lack of investments in wellness-promoting amenities, like green spaces and tree cover.

These injustices are often a product of structural racism, which encompasses racially discriminatory policies and practices like redlining, and norms that privilege white majorities at the expense of people of color.

In this study, RAND researchers spoke to policymakers and organizers across the United States to understand how communities experience and understand environmental injustices, and the lessons learned from efforts to address them.

This work has shown that a shared vision of environmental justice can help residents, organizers, and policymakers understand the root causes of injustices, identify actionable policy responses, and build trust in the belief that progress can be achieved.

Because environmental concerns are seldom isolated from other socioeconomic burdens, a holistic approach to policy could help communities experience real beneficial change.

For instance, policymakers could pair environmental policies with other programs intended to address longstanding community priorities related to health, economic well-being, public safety, and quality of life improvements.

Here are just a few examples of these types of policies and programs in action, via our partners at environmental nonprofit Groundwork USA.

Centering resident voices throughout each step in the policymaking process can help create neighborhood changes that are most meaningful to those who live there while avoiding unintended consequences like green gentrification.

Read the full article about environmental justice at RAND Corporation.