In the face of a climate crisis, it is critical to understand what can be done to help curb the disproportional impacts climate change is having on some communities. Our country is also at a time when water infrastructure across the nation is aged and decaying and practical solutions must be created. Equitable green infrastructure projects could help to address both problems.
The Network’s green infrastructure team recently released a whitepaper aimed at helping communities adopt green infrastructure practices to address climate and do so in a way that addresses social equity and environmental justice. The paper is intended to provide community development professionals, extension and Sea Grant educators, and water professionals recommendations for integrating green infrastructure projects into their community in ways that address broader societal burdens exasperated by climate change including pollution and lack of access to green space.
The team’s recommendations are based on the findings from 18 listening sessions held across the region and beyond and a virtual Equitable Green Infrastructure Summit held in April of this year which brought together over 100 people to identify and prioritize barriers and opportunities for communities seeking to implement socially just green infrastructure practices.
The five key recommendations for implementing green infrastructure or GI programs that are effective and social just include:
- Keep it simple. Keep your GI project simple to lower the cost of installation and maintenance over time.
- Emphasize co-benefits. Emphasize other societal benefits in addition to stormwater management to elicit additional funding and support.
- Design careers, not jobs. In a growing field such as GI, creating careers rather than entry level jobs can increase success.
- Provide education at every level. With a large lack of knowledge surrounding GI, providing education sets communities up for long term success.
- Build relationships and establish partnerships. Like many interdisciplinary projects, collaborating with partners is crucial to successful project implementation.
The whitepaper also outlines structural, programmatic and research needs that extension and Sea Grant professionals are well-suited to address to better help communities implement successful green infrastructure practices that are intentional in their effort to address social equity. The needs prioritized in the report will serve as a blueprint for the teams next steps moving forward.
Sitting at the intersection of workforce development, social justice, and stormwater this new whitepaper serves to better understand the currently landscape around equitable green infrastructure and how extension and Sea Grant can better serve the communities they work in.
To learn more about the Network’s green infrastructure team or get in touch, visit their webpage.