Local Champions Discuss Their Proactive Approach to Disasters, Environmental Justice

Engagement and network building are key to protecting communities from climate-related events

Two teens dig in the underbrush beneath trees with golden leaves as a third young person walks behind them. A bright sun and blue sky with wispy clouds fill the background.
Students from New Harmony High School in New Orleans work on a coastal protection and restoration project at the Sankofa Wetland Park and Nature Trail in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood on Nov. 21, 2019. Community advocates say that local engagement and networking, including with young people, are key to protecting communities from the impacts of climate-related disasters.
Gerald Herbert The Associated Press

From the coasts to the heartland, climate-related disasters continue to threaten American communities of all sizes. But local resilience and environmental justice activists are leading the charge to limit the destruction from climate events and pollution.

Pew spoke with advocates whose longstanding resident engagement, network building, and on-the-ground action are empowering their towns and neighborhoods to better prepare for an unpredictable future. In open conversations, these champions shared how flooding and other climate-related events are disproportionately affecting low income, Indigenous, Black, and Hispanic communities, damaging local economies, ecology, mental health, and cultural heritage.


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Flood Mitigation Can Prepare People and Reduce Costs

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When communities prioritize mitigation before a flood, they help keep their residents safe, decrease recovery costs, and minimize the harm to local economies and the environment. Since 2000, flood-related disasters in the U.S. have cost more than $850 billion, and experts predict that these events will increase in frequency and intensity.

Flood-Ready Approach for Building and Rebuilding

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Losses from flood-related disasters across the United States have risen by more than $100 billion each decade since the 1980s, driven by increasingly severe weather, decay and neglect of infrastructure, and development in vulnerable areas.

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.