Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Model

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According to EPA, Environmental Justice meant fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. The environmental justice movement was started in the 1960s by individuals, primarily people of color, who wanted a solution to the inequity of environmental protection in their communities. Early in 1990, the Congressional Black Caucus , a cross-party coalition of academics, social scientists, and political activists, alleged that racial minority and low-income populations had to bear a higher environmental risk burden than the general population in the US. They felt that EPA was not effectively addressing the needs of their communities. To set their concerns at rest, EPA created the Environmental Equity Workgroup in July 1990 to make recommendations for addressing environmental justice problems...

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The EJCPS Model was a systematic, community-based approach for stakeholders to achieve viable solutions to local environmental and/or public health issues or concerns. The Model helped vulnerable and underserved communities in developing proactive, strategic, and visionary approaches to address their environmental justice issues and achieve community health and sustainability. It also enabled stakeholders to work together on a common platform and devise strategies to address the environmental justice issues in the community through negotiations and interactions...


Community-based organizations that used the EJCPS Model had reportedly had to face problems related to maintenance and operational support. OEJ observed that some organizations faced difficulties in applying certain elements of the model such as initial identification of primary issues, setting of strategic goals, and linking the model with their activities. Observers pointed out that collaboration among the partners on addressing environmental issues was a tough task due to the limitations of the partners in working in a coordinated manner and their limited resources, knowledge, and skills to execute the program. According to them, the collaborative approach in environmental decision-making lacked a solid basis in legislation. Some analysts felt that the use of a collaborative model for solving environmental justice issues involved significant costs and was time consuming as it involved engaging multiple stakeholders...


According to analysts, in the wake of turbulent environmental changes across the globe, establishing sustainable communities and ensuring balanced growth remained a big challenge for EPA. In the quest to advance its mission to protect public health and the environment through the partnership model, EPA developed a Strategic Plan for the period 2014-2018, wherein the agency released a blueprint for working toward a sustainable future. The objective of this plan was to address climate change, improve air quality, clean up communities, advance sustainable development, and protect human health and the environment by enforcing laws and guaranteeing compliance...


Exhibit I: Evolution of EPA

Exhibit II: Organizational Structure of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Exhibit III: Collaborative Model Evaluation Process

Exhibit IV: Questions for Grantees to Consider Before Starting a Project

Exhibit V: Elements of the Collaborative Problem-Solving Model

Exhibit VI: Successful Models of EJCPS Approach