Tools for Climate Equity: Advancing Social Equity through Portland’s Climate Action Plan

Year Complete: 2014
Grant Amount: $25,000
Local Government: City of Portland, OR
Local Foundation: Bullitt Foundation

Project Purpose

To advance social equity by integrating equity metrics, criteria, and implementation in the 2013 revision to the Portland / Multnomah County Climate Action Plan.

Key Lessons Learned

Lessons learned about tools and tactics through the project that other sustainability directors could use to advance their work.

Coordinate closely with community partners around the form, content, and logistics of the engagement needed. This takes considerable time and staff resources so it is best to get it right from the outset.

Additionally, the recognition that successful integration of equity issues into climate planning requires new capacity (both for city staff and community organizations) and new relationships (between staff and community). The investment of time and resources into building capacity and relationships proved to be fundamental to the quality of outcomes for this project and the promising prospects for continued collaboration in the future.

Lessons for developing a collaborative process between a local government sustainability director and local place-based foundation(s).

This grant underscored the notion that access matters. Institutional relationships were important, but personal connections were essential.

Additional Information and Resources

The City of Portland developed a Climate Action Plan that prioritized the needs of communities of color and low-income populations in its approach to applying an equity lens in 2012.  During the process, the Equity Working Group provided considerable feedback about how to implement actions. This eventually resulted in the development of an Equity Implementation Guide, a companion document to the Climate Action Plan that captures the specific recommendations as well as an overall approach to incorporating equity as actions are implemented. The guide, published in 2016, serves as a tool for building staff capacity to effectively implement the policy guidance in the Climate Action Plan.

More information about the plan, including updated progress reports can be found on the city’s website.