"Climate change is the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century, but it is also the greatest opportunity to redefine the social and environmental determinants of health."
The Lancet, 2015
In California, wildfires, heatwaves, and other climate-driven disasters are creating unprecedented challenges to human health and well-being—particularly for communities that experience health inequities. California’s local health departments (LHDs) have an essential leadership role to play in the era of climate-related emergencies.
Yet as the findings in our new report show, while LHD leaders across California see an urgent need for public health departments to engage in climate action to safeguard those most at risk, these departments do not receive adequate resources to address this public health crisis.
The solution is clear: We need substantial sustained investment of state and federal funds to expand the capacity of California’s LHDs to act on the health equity threats related to climate change.
Our report, developed by the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, in partnership with the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, shows the way forward—providing recommendations to ensure LHDs can foster a more equitable, healthy, and resilient California.
With generous support from the Resources Legacy Fund, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California developed the Green Infrastructure, Climate Resilience, and Health Equity Policy Agenda to guide diverse stakeholders to take action in local, state, and federal policy and funding processes. The Public Health Alliance developed a full Policy Agenda, as well as four in-depth policy briefs and a high-level educational brief outlining the nexus of green infrastructure, climate change, and health equity.
The Achieving Resilient Communities (ARC) project is partnering with California communities to identify priority climate and health-related metrics, making measurable progress toward resilience in the face of climate change. Fostering responsive and accessible infrastructure is key, but we know that decades of intentional policy decisions have established and intensified economic and racial segregation, limited social mobility, and undercut many of the vital conditions needed to support equitable health, social, and economic resilience at the community level.
The ARC project seeks to partner with communities and share the tools needed to develop their own path toward greater resilience. Launched in Ventura County in the Spring of 2020, the project works in collaboration with the Public Health Alliance, Tracking California, and Roots of Change. The ARC project is currently engaging with farmworker communities: a group which consistently experiences significant risks from both climate change and historical community disadvantage. We work closely with our primary local partner, the Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), to identify, prioritize and develop community-driven solutions to the environmental health challenges faced by farmworkers.
Watch this recent Radio Indígena segment on extreme heat lead by two farmworker leaders in Oxnard.
The Public Health Alliance is collaborating with the Riverside Community Health Foundation to support the community engagement priorities of the Riverside Transformative Climate Communities Project. The Alliance provides public health, health equity, and community climate resilience expertise to the Riverside TCC project leads as well as the Resident Leadership Academies. Alliance staff provide consultation and guidance on the use of the California Healthy Places Index®, the health and equity impact of climate crisis, as well as strategies to advance community resilience in response to climate change.