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Putting Environmental Justice on the Map

In February, fifty experts from around the state convened for the Washington State Environmental Justice Mapping Symposium, a day-long working session aimed at identifying and illustrating the communities most impacted by pollution and climate change. Symposium participants represented a range of perspectives — from community-based organizations to academia to government agencies — and discussed methods for determining the illustrating the severity of health and economic impacts on communities all across the state.

The goal of the event was to further shape the development of a mapping tool for the State that can provide information on where to allocate investments for environmental justice. The map ranks areas by cumulative risk from pollution, socioeconomic, and health factors.

Discussion groups covered four key areas: population characteristics, environmental effects and exposures, climate impacts, and application and policy and practice. They proposed new key indicators of health such as inequality, flagged often overlooked concerns like accounting for undocumented and indigenous people, and identified the need for data that is actionable and information contextualized by local communities and events.

The event was hosted by Front and Centered, the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS), and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, in collaboration with The Washington State Departments of Health & Ecology. And this working group will take the next steps of applying these findings to the research methods over the next four months.

This is a crucial step in ensuring that what is being measured — sensitive populations, socioeconomic factors, environmental exposures, and environmental effects — tell the full story of what is happening on the ground. We will produce a draft of the indicators and weighting by the fall and hope to have a version 1.0 in the Washington Tracking Network by the end of 2018.

Read the full Environmental Justice Mapping Symposium Report here.

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