Under the Green Umbrella, Sustainability Means Equity

February 10, 2022 4:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Source: Institute for Sustainable Communities

By Krystal-Rose Agu

February 10, 2022

A community near downtown Cincinnati, Ohio in June 2020. Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash.

In a region where climbing summer temperatures and floods are on the rise, Green Umbrella steps in as Greater Cincinnati’s core sustainability alliance.

With partnership from the Institute for Sustainable Communities and other equity-based climate groups, the organization gears up to launch its Regional Climate Collaborative in June to center equity and climate preparedness in government planning processes.

Green Umbrella pulls in like-minded groups and individuals from 10 counties across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Its Regional Climate Collaborative will function as a subset of the organization to coordinate climate solutions across jurisdictions, educate elected officials on equitable best practices and build local government capacity to take action.

“The collaborative will provide resources and engagement opportunities for communities to advance equitable climate action strategies across Greater Cincinnati,” said Savannah Sullivan, climate policy lead at Green Umbrella. “We are excited to work with local governments and community partners to get the program up and running.”

The Institute for Sustainable Communities is no stranger to working with the organization.

“Sustainability and equity go hand in hand,” said Sonia Joshi, associate director of U.S. programs at the Institute for Sustainable Communities. “Green Umbrella shares this focus as it creates solutions for and within its communities.”

In 2021, Green Umbrella partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Communities’ Regional Collaborations for Equitable Climate Solutions pilot program to learn community-focused best practices through three days of workshops. Green Umbrella invited five additional leaders to join the workshops, including Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Hamilton County Public Health, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and the Village of Silverton, Ohio.

The takeaway from those workshops: Elevate local voices.

“You can do a lot of climate work and still perpetuate issues that make communities most vulnerable,” said Daniel Dickerman, program officer at the Institute for Sustainable Communities who led some of those workshops.

For example, solar power is a renewable energy source that can mitigate the use of fossil fuels. However, those with the most wealth are often the ones who can afford to upgrade to solar energy. This leaves the task of covering the remaining electric grid to those with lower incomes, increasing their energy costs, Dickerman said.

Alliances like Green Umbrella’s Regional Climate Collaborative ensures those who bear the brunt of climate change are at the front of the decision-making and solution-generating table, he said.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities and Green Umbrella will continue to work together as part of the Institute’s newest initiative, the Urban Equity Compact, set to launch later this year. The compact will provide coaching, training and technical assistance to teams working on community-centered climate issues.

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