The Resilience Justice Project (RJ Project) at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law has been awarded a one-year multi-institutional grant through a national competitive process to evaluate how climate adaptation planning can be more equitable for low-income communities in eight U.S. coastal areas.
The RJ Project will use the $75,000 award from the National Sea Grant Law Center through NOAA’s National Coastal Resilience Fund to examine coastal urban adaptation in the eight cities: Boston, Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, Savannah, Seattle and Tampa. Principal investigator Tony Arnold, the Herbert F. Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use at Brandeis Law, and his team will collaborate with researchers at Georgetown University and Georgia State University.
The project will examine how the cities are currently ensuring that their climate adaptation plans are equitable and fair.
“We will assess plans, policies and laws affecting climate adaptation in these eight coastal urban areas with an eye towards addressing the vulnerabilities of low-income neighborhoods of color,” Arnold said. “We’ll then use our assessments to produce a guidebook of best practices and a series of webinars so that any city can use the information to make their climate adaptation planning equitable for all neighborhoods.”
The project utilizes the Resilience Justice Assessment Framework, pioneered by Arnold and Resilience Justice Fellows at Brandeis Law. The Resilience Justice Project addresses the inequitable vulnerabilities of communities, such as neighborhoods, to many different shocks and changes.
“Systems of injustice, inequality, marginalization and oppression have undermined the capacities of low-income communities of color to resist and adapt to shocks and changes,” Arnold said. “These shocks and changes include climate change, economic shocks, political change, disasters, pollution, health crises and many other disruptions.
“Many low-income neighborhoods of color have both community-based resilience but also vulnerabilities that come from inequitable conditions and systems of inequitable policies. We aim to empower marginalized communities so that they can thrive, not just survive.”
Arnold and his team will build on work they began last year using the framework in a project funded by the EPA and Kentucky Division of Water to examine the 34-square-mile Mill Creek watershed in southwest Louisville. In this study, the research team gathered the views and needs of residents on environmental and community conditions and is providing the information to the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District.
“We’re taking what we’ve learned about how the framework worked with Mill Creek to the eight cities in the new project,” Arnold said. “We’ll continue to be engaged with the Mill Creek watershed community while we carry out the work under our new grant. In this way, all communities involved can learn from one another.”
Along with his law school appointment, Arnold holds an affiliated professorship in UofL’s Department of Urban and Public Affairs, part of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Resilience Justice Fellows working on the project are Brandeis Law students Ralph Banchstubbs, Carcyle Barrett, Irie Ewers, Jake Mace, Colin Sheehan and Laken Wadsworth and Ph.D. candidate in Urban and Public Affairs Rebecca Wells-Gonzalez.
The collaborating groups working with UofL on the project are the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown Law School and the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth at Georgia State. They also will work with local governments and community-based environmental justice groups in the eight coastal areas.
The research project is titled “Equitable Coastal Urban Adaptation to Climate Change: A Resilience Justice Assessment” and is supported by National Sea Grant Law Center grant PTE Federal Award Number NA22OAR4170089, Subaward Number 24-07-08.