Green and just: Integrating equity and resilience into green infrastructure planning
Given the most recent climate change projections predicting a temperature increase of 1.5C with wetter and more intense rainfalls, the risks and exposure to stormwater related flooding and pollution will likely increase. While constructing pipes, reservoirs and other forms of grey infrastructure will be required, this option is not feasible for denser, urban communities. As a result, green infrastructure (GI - e.g., rain gardens, green roofs, bioswales etc.) is being implemented in cities across the country, to reduce, retain, and infiltrate stormwater. GI can also provide other ecosystem services or co-benefits, but to be effective, GI planning requires community buy-in and large-scale implementation, including those communities that have been historically marginalized and excluded from decision-making processes. Because many co-benefits are localized, the siting of GI is an environmental justice issue. Therefore, we ask: How can we synthesize available data on the impacts of GI and their ecosystem services with socio-ecological data to create an equity-based planning tool? Using a mixed method approach rooted in social-ecological and environmental justice discourse, we will answer this question by synthesizing available data, using case studies and spatial analysis. The results of this work have the potential to assist stakeholders and cities in creating equity-based stormwater management plans, thereby ensuring that residents and communities that have consistently been excluded from the urban planning or accessing environmental benefits will be better prepared for the future.