Promoting Environmental Justice and Sustainability

Jun 23, 2017 | Blogs by Betsy

“Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and
its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.” – Pope Francis


Two years ago, I was honored to be one of 60 mayors from around the world invited by Pope Francis to take part in a global climate conference at the Vatican.  One thing was clear – we need to start at the local level to work against the effects we are having on our environment and on our fellow humans.  Our work against climate change is more than just about limiting carbon emissions, it’s about working toward environmental justice.

I am committed to making sure that Minneapolis is a leader in promoting environmental justice and sustainability for our city, and for its residents.  This is one part of our goal to make Our Minneapolis, One Minneapolis.  As a result of my dedication to sustainability, I am proud to have received support from the DFL Environmental Caucus for my re-election campaign.  (Click here to read the letter!)

The hard work during my first term is paying off:

  • Our organics recycling program has a 40% participation rate after its full first year.  I have funded culturally specific outreach to all parts of the city, particularly in communities that may be unaware of the benefits of the organics program to increase participation.
  • In 2014, the White House named Minneapolis one of 16 Climate Action Champion Communities.
  • Minneapolis was designated one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities around the world – successfully making the case for how a non-coastal city like Minneapolis needs to adapt to climate change.

But this is only a start.  During my second term, I commit to advancing environmental justice for all residents of Minneapolis.

My plan to address environmental racism and injustice in Minneapolis will take a 3 pronged approach. It involves investments in people, proactive health screening and equal accessibility to transit.

  1. Investment in people / Green jobs and workforce:
    We must expand the investment in our people through our workforce. Establishing targeted trainings, education and outreach within communities that are most affected by racial disparities is an opportunity for development and growth. We as a city enterprise must put these targeted approaches in these communities and support them technically and financially. Members of these impacted communities will be able to have job training and skills that not only prepare them for a job and livable wage, but allows them to have a career that is sustainable. Economic investments through the creation and retention of green jobs have the ability to strengthen the effort of building partnership and equity in some of our most impacted communities. I believe this investment has the potential to tackle racial disparities and advance equity in the environment and workforce. I visualize North Minneapolis being a hub for green jobs, in addition to being a source of producing a workforce that is skilled and trained in sustainability and greening. This effort will take many hands to accomplish; but it is a priority and presents an opportunity to change the narrative of North Minneapolis from industrialized to being a state-wide leader in the green revolution.
  2. Proactive Approach to in-home hazards: The children in these impacted communities can no longer be lead detectors.
    I have been working with the Minneapolis health department to develop ways to proactively intervene before children are diagnosed with lead poisoning from in-home hazards such as paint, dust and pest.  I have also incorporated environmental asthma protection and prevention into my Cradle to K plan, as well as in the
    city’s Green business programs, and in our successful fight to move Northern Metals with the assistance of the regulatory state agency (MPCA), with the partnership and collaboration of valuable community members and organizations.
  3. Transit/ Complete Streets: As we grow and develop as a city we must prioritize connectivity to places, green spaces and jobs.
    All residents deserve the highest standard in transportation and ability to choose how they wish to commute. This should not be solely limited to buses sporadically stopping in communities that are already overburdened by air impacts. Regardless of what community you reside in, it is your right to have equitable and affordable access to whatever mode of transportation that best fits your needs and desires. I will prioritize the ability and accessibility to choose how residents wish to commute in their various communities.

Regardless of what happens to environmental justice concerns at the federal level, I am, have been and will continue to be a champion for advancing environmental justice in the City of Minneapolis. I strongly believe and boldly state that access to healthy and livable communities will further grow equity in Minneapolis. I look forward to being a source of support and championing alongside community organizations in the fight against environmental injustice.