Environmental justice (EJ) is a pressing issue in Alameda County, where communities are on the front lines of environmental disasters. Unfortunately, these communities have been excluded from conversations and decision-making around the same environmental issues that directly affect their lives. To ensure that EJ advocates have a seat at the table, it is essential to recognize that many marginalized populations bear the burden of environmental hazards and, in general, also have less access to environmental benefits. So, what strategies have been used by environmental coalitions in Alameda County to increase public engagement and support for their cause?Ideally, EJ should be taken into account in all environmental efforts, but at a minimum, guidance, input or comments should be sought from the people most affected by the action and such information should be included in the final product.
Major environmental organizations can take a concrete step to address environmental injustice by incorporating environmental justice into their mission statement. When carrying out activities related to research in communities, organizations must evaluate who benefits from the research or project. When environmental organizations develop programs and projects, they must ensure that communities that deal with environmental justice are at the center of their planning activities. Organizations can also make an effort to support grassroots organizations and encourage foundations to show more equitable behavior in selecting grant recipients. Additionally, they can organize forums or conferences at the local, state, or even regional levels, where leading environmental and EJ organizations are invited to learn and network about environmental issues in their area. Ultimately, these strategies can help increase public engagement and support for EJ causes in Alameda County.
By recognizing that many marginalized populations bear the burden of environmental hazards and have less access to environmental benefits, organizations can take concrete steps to address environmental injustice and ensure that communities are at the center of their planning activities.