Providence is putting social and racial equity at the center of its planning for future climate threats. The city earned a $100,000 grant to help with that.
The Providence Office of Sustainability will examine plans underway to protect the city against climate impacts such as extreme weather and rising seas.
Sustainability Director Leah Bamberger said the city wants to make sure those plans and any new recommendations are shaped with input from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. She said some disparities are already well known and the city is working to address them.
“But there might be some other issues that are not on our radar yet,” said Bamberger, “and we hope to dive in and work with our community partners to help us understand what those other gaps might be.”
Bamberger said the grant from Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities will make this work possible. The city will work closely with the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and Groundwork Providence to complete this project.
Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color often face greater rates of exposure to pollution and other types of environmental problems. Extreme heat, rising seas, and other climate-related threats are expected to make those disparities worse.
“We want to make sure that our sustainability planning efforts and our environmental work and the goals we are setting throughout the city are addressing the needs of these communities so that sustainability is not just something for the privileged,” added Bamberger.
Bamberger said the sustainability office will soon outline the scope of work to take place over the next year. The new grant, which includes a $50,000 match from the Rhode Island Foundation, builds on the city’s ResilientPVD workshops held in February and the Sustainable Providence Initiative.