Let’s Talk Equity and Justice 

Why do equity and justice appear to be a central issue in dealing with the climate change problem?

As climate change increases, and environmental hazards become more prevalent, the  imbalance in climate equity becomes more and more apparent. Today it is hard to dispute that human activity has a negative impact on our climate and that this impact has created a disproportionate ability to fully enjoy human rights. 

In fact, climate change has profound impacts that expands throughout a wide variety of human rights, including the rights to life, self-determination, development, food, health, water and sanitation, housing, and more. Justice and equity became a central issue to dealing with climate change when climate change began affecting the ability for individuals to access basic human rights.

According to the International Bar Association climate change justice is defined as:

To ensure communities, individuals and governments have substantive legal and procedural rights relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and the means to take or cause measures to be taken within their national legislative and judicial systems, where necessary, at regional and international levels, to mitigate sources of climate change and provide for adaptation to its effects in a manner that respects human rights”.

Climate Equity means ensuring that all communities have the opportunity to benefit from resources that promote sustainable living, such as renewable energy, employment and adaptation solutions. Typically, minority, low-income and otherwise marginalized populations have little to no access to these options.

California Greenworks primarily serves the communities of south Los Angeles, most of which are disadvantaged communities designated by the Senate Bill 535. These communities are predominantly minorities with high unemployment rate, high housing burden and low educational attainment. In engaging youth of underserved communities, we are establishing pathways to brighter futures for more people, and especially those traditionally left out.

“It should be a civil right for everyone to have clean water and clean air,” founder and CEO Mike Meador said. “No one should be denied from having this. Yet – many are.”

Our 2022 Climate Equity Forum Series highlighted a number of speakers who each present on various topics surrounding climate change as it relates to California. Our speakers included;

David McNeill, Executive Officer at Baldwin Hills Conservatory

David McNeill is the Executive Officer of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, which operates under the Natural Resources Agency for the State of California. He oversees the long-term acquisition and planned development of approximately two-square miles of oil drilling fields into much needed parkland for urban Southwest Los Angeles County. 

With over 20 years of real estate, public outreach, and administration experience, Mr. McNeill has helped re-imagine the outdoor landscape in underserved communities. As a founding member of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, he has been a driving force behind implementing urban environmental initiatives such as the Verde Coalition’s City of L.A. landmark Walking to the Park Report. 

Through his work, Mr. McNeill strives to bridge community, public and private partnerships to help sustain new park projects and inspire the next generation of open space stewards. 

David is a graduate of Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication and a minor in Human Services.   He has served as a member of the City of Los Angeles Recycled Water Advisory Group, South Coast Air Management District Environmental Justice Advisory Group, L.A. County Appointee to the Community Advisory Panel for the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District Overlay Zone, Board of Directors for the California Invasive Plant Council, Walk n’ Rollers and the Fulcrum Initiative.

Adrian Hightower, Sustainability and Resilience Manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Adrian Hightower is an experienced manager, educator and consultant with depth of knowledge in organizational change management and technical expertise in renewable energy and sustainable water treatment. Adrian enjoys consulting as a licensed engineer and certified sustainability professional with innovative teams in the energy storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, photovoltaic and power utility industries. He has managed numerous teams in public sector, academic and industrial settings. He has also conducted international research and facilitated entrepreneurial activities addressing Sustainability, Renewable Energy and the Water-Energy Nexus. Adrian has published numerous papers in these fields, holds several patents, and has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences. My B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. is from the California Institute of Technology.

Our event series moderator was the wonderful, Mischa Duffie.

Mischa Duffie is a writer, coach, inspirational speaker, and radio personality with a special gift for curating meaningful conversations. As a 33-year veteran of the human service profession with a specific expertise in human behavior, Mischa has spent more than half of her life offering individuals the necessary tools to find the reason and the courage to explore the more of life.

Mischa’s professional career has involved working in the non-profit, for profit, juvenile justice, social justice, and educational sector in capacities that range from volunteer to grassroots organizer to administrator to executive management leadership roles. For 17 fruitful years, through Greatness Now®, Mischa and her team developed a reputation for providing strength-based programs and instruction that was designed to improve behavioral, emotional, and social outcomes for the over 85 corporations, educational institutions, churches, and community-based organizations they collaborated with.

As a passionate, principled, prolific writer, Mischa has published over 20 of her of own books. As the owner of Morals & Values Press (MPV), Mischa serves as publisher, ghostwriter, and coach to those with a burning desire to share their story or perspective with the world. Having decided years ago to disrupt the frustration aspiring writers contend with, Mischa and her MVP team have in fact helped many writers become published authors.

Thank you to everyone that joined us for our 2022 Climate Equity Forum Series!