ENVIRONMENTAL AND JUST SUSTAINABILITY:
ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH RACIAL JUSTICE
In recent years, the conversation in urban planning and development has centered on sustainability and thinking “green.” However, a long legacy of national and local racism in institutional practices and policies has served to effectively discriminate, disempower, disenfranchise, and disinherit black people from the benefits of a healthy environment and sustainability programs and policies.
A truly sustainable city is both ecologically and socially healthy. It provides clean air, clean water, and clean land with opportunities for access to green space, public transportation, healthy foods, and safe recreation to all residents. A truly sustainable city places greater emphasis on environmental justice than pretty design features, urban development incentives, and bike lanes to be enjoyed by wealthy residents. Sustainability cannot only be for the privileged. Sustainability has to be just and equitable.
Our community must lead in addressing climate change through racial justice. Climate change presents challenges never before seen in modern history, and we must make changes to live within the limits of our precious ecosystem. Those changes must be made with racial equity at the forefront. The tools of environmental justice and self-determination have never been more needed in the sustainability movement. Realizing environmental justice is a key component in community-building, community health and revitalization in the black community from the historically Black neighborhoods in North/ Northeast Portland to East County.