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Measurements of environmental inequalities

How can environmental inequalities be measured? Are you aware of any policy examples that take these measurements into account?

Expert 24 Sep 2018 18:24
Expert 28 Sep 2018 9:39

I have no clue regarding such an assessment regarding environmental inequalities. However, to enhance the discussion providing free access data sources more convenient then articles to be pais to reflect on data for inclusive policies making, I know that some organisations provides environmental guidelines in the vulnerability assessment, to cite a few IFRC for humanitarian (, the FAO (, the UNEP (, or the World Bank ( Some environmental conflicts mapping initiatives may also be useful: or . Series of rsources on environment, peace and justice can be found in the following library: . Comparative tools to adapt climate change by country in Europe can be found there:
Some more research groups could be added, be waiting for time to process this whole of information into a more holistic approach of data access for inclusive policies in the general document, I remain available for any question. Best with this food for thought.

Expert 12 Oct 2018 15:54

Environmental Inequalities 

The United Nations developed eight Millennium development goals (MDG) in 2000 to enhance the living standards of disadvantaged populations around the world.  The aim of these goals is to reduce poverty, illiteracy, sex inequality, malnutrition, child deaths, maternal mortality, and major infections as well as creating environmental stability and a global partnership for development [1]. But nonetheless, these MDG didn’t achieve the set targets due to non-commitment and action by all nations. Therefore, the United Nations in December 2015 launched the UN 2030 Agenda and 17 SDGs that replaced the MDG. There are nine SDGs that are directly addressing environmental inequality.
The UK Environmental Agency (EA) states that “environmental inequality” is a real and substantive problem within the UK.  Environmental equity refers to the fairness of the distribution of the positive effects of the environment (such as: access to green space) and the negative effects (such as: pollution and risk) among different groups [2]. Therefore, the term “Environmental Inequalities” refers to the unequal impact of environmental influences on health and wellbeing.  These environmental influences include: environmental problems arising from unsustainable lifestyles and climate change such as poor air quality, increased heating costs, or from problems from environmental planning in housing, public spaces, and transport [3]. Hence, it is imperative to consider environmental inequalities in the design and implementation of policy through the impact assessment process at the global, national, and local levels. [3]
First: Climate Change Policies
Regarding carbon dioxide emissions, there has been a race between the United States (US) and China in which China has finally pulled ahead (in aggregate, but not per capita terms), and the United States has contributed more than a quarter of the cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1750.  However, the poorest countries making the least contribution to CO2 are the ones who are vulnerable and will be negatively affected by climate change risks.
Equity policy measures: Carbon dioxide (CO2) tax policies are being implemented, as it is a cost-effective economic instrument to achieve emission reduction targets [4].
Second: Urban policies

  • Equity in access to green space and the natural environment

The presence of urban green coverage (such as trees, parks, woodland and other open spaces) can improve health regardless of social class. A study conducted in 2009 found that having green spaces within one kilometre reduced disease prevalence. In addition, the presence of green space also has indirect benefits such as providing open space for physical activity and playing and improving air quality [2]. However, there is a spatial injustice in the distribution of green areas.
Equity policy measures: Countries began to develop measures to ensure green access equity. For example, Curitiba city in Brazil; one of the greenest cities globally; implemented a greenery policy plan to reduce environmental inequalities that led to a high green ratio per capita (52 m2 pace per person) [5].  In addition, Tokyo, the capital of Japan developed a policy and plan with the goal of expanding the green network by doubling the number in 2006 and reaches 1 million street trees in 10 years [6]. Melbourne in Australia, developed an urban forest strategy and policy to increase public canopy cover by about double, from 22 percent at present to 40 percent by 2040 [7].

  • Environmental Equity in Housing

The quality of housing, a child lives in can affect their health in many ways.  A study carried out by Shelter in 2006 suggested that children in bad housing conditions are more likely to have mental health problems [2]. In addition, disadvantaged groups need affordable houses.
Equity policy measures: Financing retrofits for low-income households in response to the high utility-cost burdens that will be exacerbated by severe weather. This was applied in the US for example by The “Green and Healthy Homes Initiative” which is public-private partnership [8].
Third: Environmental policies

  • Environmental Equity in Transport

Transport impacts health and well-being in a number of ways. It accounts for around 29 percent of CO2 emissions and has further impacts on the air quality for people living near the inner cities and infrastructure.  Clean and smart transport can help people access opportunities and facilities that help them to stay healthy, such as leisure centers and parks [2].
Equity measures:  The widespread use of electric cars and trucks in low-income communities.

  • Waste management

There is an unequal distribution of wastes; as a study conducted on America showed that three of every four off-site having commercial hazardous waste landfills were located in predominantly African-American communities, although African-Americans made up only 20 percent of the region's population. In addition, a PCB2 landfill was proposed in the rural and mostly African-American county of Warren, North Carolina, which ignited protests and over 500 arrests.
Equity measures: An example of policy measure to achieve equality was the developed in 1987, as the Commission for Racial Justice (CRJ) produced “Toxic Waste and Race”, which is the first national study to correlate waste facility sites and demographic characteristics [9].