S. E. Williams |

The Justice40 initiative is a movement aimed at ensuring federal agencies directly collaborate and engage with environmental justice organizations and frontline communities.

This will enhance federal agencies’ abilities to identify specific needs for programs focused on inequities that not only hinder a sustainable, just society, but also  disproportionately harm low-income and communities of color.

Justice40 is a collaborative of leading environmental justice movement leaders, academics, and advocates committed to working with the Biden administration to fulfill the Biden-Harris Justice40 promise.

During the 2020 presidential campaign Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris committed to ensuring that at least 40% of federal climate investments go directly to those frontline communities most affected by poverty and pollution.

In response to, and in support of this commitment, Justice40 worked with the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, to produce a report intended to help federal decision-makers improve upon current and planned Justice40 efforts at the state level, while also being inspired by community-driven investment models.

As noted in the report’s executive summary, “The urgency of climate action cannot be understated. A mountain of studies — including from the International Panel on Climate Change4 and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — clearly outline goals for rapid decarbonization of all economic sectors in order to avert a climate catastrophe.”

During the 2020 presidential campaign then Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised that 40% of federal climate investments go directly to those frontline communities most affected by poverty and pollution. (source: whitehouse.gov)

The report also seeks to address what it refers to as two, “fundamental tensions.” Firstly, “that there is no perfect policy model.”

In other words, no state has taken all the necessary steps for climate, environmental, economic, and racial justice but there are lessons to be learned from their experiences the federal government can improve upon for transformational design and accountable implementation of Justice40.

And secondly, “the Justice40 initiative alone will not be able to remedy systemic racism.”

In this regard, the report notes that to achieve justice, it will be important to couple initiatives with appropriate regulations and other actions to eliminate environmental disparities and any procedural inequities that contribute to them.  

As noted, the report also highlights the importance of state lessons—both do’s and don’ts which, if improved upon by the federal government, can the collaborative believes will lead to  transformational and accountable Justice40 outcomes.

Justice40 is expected to address a range of important issues including pollution, climate, funding and capacity, occupational impacts, as well as environmental costs and impacts.

Environmental inequities not only hinder a sustainable, just society, but also  disproportionately harm low-income and communities of color. (source: thejustice40.com)

Direct investments in the communities most impacted by climate injustice will be paramount to achieving equitable Justice40 outcome. The collective is focused on ensuring that the federal government capitalizes on this opportunity.

Key recommendations for the process include the following:

The guiding principles of Justice40. (source: thejustice40.com)
  • Federal agencies developing an accountability framework to invest in disadvantaged communities.
  • Ensuring local participation through a community-anchored approach that ensures frontline communities have representation and power, both in Justice40 policy-level and local investment decision-making.
  • Maximizing holistic, restorative investments in frontline communities in order to correct their long history of uneven resources and federal funding.

The guiding principles of Justice40 include the imperatives that initiative efforts are  justice driven, community powered and result in accountable change.

Follow this link to learn more about the Justice40 collective. Follow this link to review the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation report Making Justice40 a Reality for Frontline Communities.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Stephanie has received awards for her investigative reporting and for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.