Graham Sustainability Institute

Climate Changes Health: Ensuring Environmental Justice Underlies Public Health’s Climate Change Work

Project Planning Team

Natalie Sampson (PI) - U-M Dearborn
Adrienne Hollis - WE ACT for Environmental Justice and George Washington University
Megan Latshaw - APHA Environment Section and Johns Hopkins University
Vernice Miller-Travis - Skeo
Paul Mohai - U-M School for Environment and Sustainability
Carmel Price - U-M Dearborn
Fatemeh Shafiei - Spelman College

Project Summary

Climate change is one of the gravest public health threats today and disproportionately impacts vulnerable and marginalized communities. This reality makes it all the more imperative that local climate planning efforts leverage expert public health knowledge to address these disparities. 

Recognizing this challenge, members of the American Public Health Association (APHA) Environment Section's Environmental Justice (EJ) Subcommittee, U-M researchers, and those from other institutions, as well as EJ experts, convened a pre-conference summit to the 2017 APHA Annual Meeting. 

The day-long event brought together EJ leaders, public health practitioners, scholars, science and health advocates as well as students and voices from frontline communities most affected by the changing climate to share lessons learned and stories from their respective fields. A primary goal of the summit was to develop recommendations reflecting EJ voices, that if implemented would ensure EJ considerations are central to the field of public health’s climate change work. 
By bringing together local and scientific knowledge across a diverse set of fields, this effort enabled a much-needed synthesis of discipline-specific expertise and strengthened community-academic partnerships to advance climate-related health research. The final recommendations produced will enable the APHA and other public health organizations as well as local governments to implement climate planning efforts in ways that reflect and advance environmental justice priorities. The recommendations will also serve to empower advocacy organizations with clear strategies to realize climate justice goals in public health decision-making. 

For more details, read the final project report (PDF) 
This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2017. Additional support provided by the Turner Foundation and the Union of Concerned Scientists.