Social Equity in Climate Resilience

The RAND Climate Resilience Center is committed to justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (JDEIB) as fundamental principles guiding our climate resilience research, outreach, and education activities.

Aureliano Dominguez drinks water after finishing a landscaping job as a heat wave continues in Portland, Oregon, August 12, 2021.

Aureliano Dominguez drinks water after finishing a landscaping job as a heat wave continues in Portland, Oregon, August 12, 2021.

Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Reuters

Social equity in climate resilience reflects fair processes and outcomes for all people—regardless of socio-demographic characteristics such as race, gender, age, national origin, or income level—in the development and implementation of climate resilience policies and practices. Our efforts to address social equity build on insights about environmental justice, specifically about where and how marginalized groups face increased risk from climate change. We also build on these insights to support the development of systems that enhance full participation in decision making about resilience building activities.

The center promotes JDEIB through several core values:

  1. respecting differences
  2. cultivating dialog, learning, and growth
  3. demonstrating integrity
  4. being transparent and accountable.

Opportunities to incorporate these core values in our activities include

  • identifying and addressing the needs of vulnerable and underserved groups
  • broadening participation of under-represented groups
  • building a diverse team with strong commitments to our core values.

The center is collaborating closely with the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy to expand solutions to climate injustice.

  • Social Vulnerability Shapes the Experiences of Climate Migrants Displaced by Hurricane Maria

    For climate change migrants from Puerto Rico, underlying neglect, discrimination, and other social processes transformed Hurricane Maria from a hazard to a disaster with devastating economic, social, and physical and mental health effects. However, migrants were also able to draw on their faith, community and educational institutions, and new neighbors as sources of strength and coping.

    Feb 21, 2023

  • The Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Mitigation Grant Program

    Natural disasters have become more frequent and destructive, with the damage from disasters affecting some communities—most notably, low-income and disadvantaged communities—more than others. Hazard risk mitigation could reduce disruption and damage, and equity issues are important in helping communities' mitigation efforts.

    Mar 23, 2022

  • Equity Metrics for Climate Adaptation in the Electricity Sector

    In 2020, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a ruling that requires utilities to assess communities' vulnerability to climate impacts and evaluate how climate adaptation efforts can promote equity. Researchers developed a set of context-specific equity metrics that Southern California Edison could build on and incorporate into its ongoing work toward climate adaptation.

    Feb 17, 2022

  • Assessing Social Equity in Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery

    In this webinar, senior social scientist Melissa Finucane reviews the complex nature of social equity—including contextual, procedural, and distributional equity dimensions—and how a robust, evidence-based approach is needed to measure progress toward equity in disaster contexts.

    Nov 16, 2021

  • A Scoping Literature Review on Indicators and Metrics for Assessing Racial Equity in Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery

    Disasters have the potential to exacerbate preexisting racial inequities. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency have made commitments to reduce social inequities, but frameworks, indicators, and metrics are needed for tracking progress toward equity goals.

    Jul 15, 2021

  • Hurricane Ida Is Part of a Cycle of Disasters—Mitigating Their Impact Means Building Back Better

    Building back better means focusing on recovery that not only restores damage from a disaster but also reduces future risk. To meet that goal today, we need to look at the ways our disaster preparedness and response systems actually create risk themselves, by reinforcing things like wealth inequality, systemic discrimination, or access to crucial services.

    Sep 13, 2021

  • Environmental Racism

    Past housing policies—such as redlining—have an enduring legacy on urban neighborhoods today, and have contributed to which communities enjoy more trees, less traffic, and better air quality, and which face hazards such as pollution, toxic waste sites, and flooding risk.

    Mar 31, 2022

  • Climate Change: An Issue of Equity

    RAND senior policy researcher Benjamin Preston describes areas where climate change and equity intersect.

    Aug 26, 2021