Tracking California plays a crucial role in monitoring and assessing Environmental Justice (EJ) issues in the state of California through its work to collect data to better understand exposure to environmental hazards, the distribution of these hazards, and how these hazards are related to health outcomes. An Environmental Justice lens helps us to examine how health disparities related to the distribution of environmental hazards arise. Our Program's Strategies are guided by the following tenets of Environmental Justice:
- Collaborative decision-making
- Identifying and highlighting EJ issues through the data
- Making data publicly available
- Developing capacity to address environmental health issues
Since the initial meetings that our program convened, we have prioritized the inclusion of a wide array of stakeholders that represented the diversity of the state's residents and communities. Our program's first meetings brought forth the various challenges that come with trying to arrive at consensus across a wide range of opinions and perspectives. Despite the challenges, it was important for the program -- and its commitment to meaningful involvement of impacted communities -- to hold these meetings and discussions.
Through this process, the direction of the program was determined and Environmental Justice became a guiding principle of our work.
To ensure that the program continues to reflect the values, opinions, and perspectives of ALL California residents, we convene our advisory group, the TIAG, on a biannual basis. At these meetings we present on current and emerging projects, and discuss future directions for our work. We pose questions to this group about pressing and emerging environmental health and justice issues, and ask for guidance on where to focus our efforts. Members of our advisory group represent a range of stakeholder perspectives and we work towards ensuring that the membership continues to reflect the diversity of California's communities. We consider several types of diversity in maintaining a balance of stakeholder representation on our TIAG, including racial/ethnic identity, content areas of expertise, the types of organizations that members work in, and the geographic areas that these organizations represent.
Identifying Environmental Justice Issues in California
The work of Tracking California presents a unique opportunity to advance Environmental Justice work in California by identifying environmental health disparities through data collected by programs across the state health department and other agencies.
We also conduct research and issue reports that take a deeper dive into Environmental Justice issues, explore the data available to document how communities are impacted by environmental hazards, and assess how that relates to health outcomes.
Making Data Available
We also aim to make environmental health data more accessible and to conduct analyses to better understand the connection between environment and health in California. For those with more expertise, we make the raw data available so they can explore these issues by developing and carrying out their own analyses and research. Making the data more accessible to impacted communities and other key stakeholders can help bring attention to these issues, and inform a better understanding of environmental health disparities in California.
Developing Capacity to Address Environmental Health Issues
Lastly, we work directly with communities to help strengthen their capacity to understand and use data as well as to work in partnership to conduct environmental health analyses and research. Community-engaged research has tremendous potential to generate more accurate and actionable data, resulting in a stronger impact when those affected are directly involved in this work.