Pilot project on environmental justice in German municipalities

Having a healthy living environment should not be coupled to level of income.Click to enlarge
Having a healthy living environment should not be coupled to level of income.
Source: Harald07 / Fotolia.com

The socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods of many municipalities in Germany suffer from a high number of environment-related health risks. A research project by the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) is testing key elements of a strategic approach to achieving environmental justice in three pilot municipalities.

Table of Contents

 

Implementation of an integrated strategy for environmental justice – Pilot project in German municipalities

Because of the spatial concentration of health problems related to the environment (e.g. noise, air pollution, lacking green areas and parks) in housing areas that suffer from social deprivation, environmental justice is also receiving increased attention in Germany. Environmental justice aims at preventing and reducing the socio-spatial concentration of environmental health risks as well as ensuring fair access to environmental resources that affect health. This issue has not in any practical sense “caught on” at the local (planning) level.

The “Environmental justice in urban areas“ research project (2012-2014) carried out on behalf of the German Environment Agency by the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) provided recommendations for anchoring a strategy to create environmental justice in municipalities.

The Difu’s research and development project “Implementation of an integrated strategy for environmental justice – Pilot project in German municipalities” (11/2015–10/2017) is testing the key strategic recommendations for environmental justice of the above-mentioned previous project in actual planning and implementation projects in the three pilot municipalities of Kassel, Marburg and Munich. Difu is providing scientific support to the pilot project, which is also funded by the German Environment Agency under the Environmental Research Plan.

 

Research questions

  • How can environmental justice be successfully put on the municipal agenda?
  • How can the environmental justice approach be integrated into overarching municipal goals and strategies?
  • Which formal and informal instruments are suited to the implementation of environmental justice at municipal level?
  • What conditions (responsibilities, information flow, cooperative approaches) are conducive to an implementation of environmental justice in local government?
  • How can the interaction between municipal policy makers and administration be shaped?
  • What forms of resident participation and stakeholder cooperation might advance the implementation of environmental justice in municipal policy and administration?
  • What factors for success and obstacles to, the implementation of strategic elements for environmental justice can be derived from the pilot projects?
  • Are there any elements that are transferrable and how can this depicted in the form of tools, checklists, etc.?
 

Project modules

  • Provision of activating support for the three pilot municipalities of Kassel, Marburg and Munich
  • Creation of a “Local Environmental Justice” toolbox for municipalities providing definitions, background information, checklists, advice on implementation and practical examples
  • Performance and online documentation of a stocktaking event “Local Environmental Justice”

A project working group comprising representatives from science, associations and local governments, and German States and Federal Government officials are cooperating in this research project. The group members represent the environment, nature conservation, health and urban development sectors.