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A4 Webinar - July 29, 2020

Alternatives Assessment and Environmental Justice:
Current State of Practice, Challenges and Opportunities

Occurred on:
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

View Slides (pdf), Watch on YouTube


With national attention focused on the COVID pandemic and on structural racism, it is important for the alternatives assessment community to think about how its science and practice can be leveraged to reduce the disproportionate burdens of environmentally-related disease among minority communities. The fields of alternatives assessment and informed substitution focus on supporting the development, evaluation, and adoption of safer, more sustainable chemicals, processes, and technologies, which can reduce environmental disparities. However, there are some important questions to answer about our methods and practice, including:

  • Do current alternatives assessment processes have the potential to lead to decisions that perpetuate the disproportionate impacts of chemical harms and other socio-economic-environmental stressors among those of low income and communities of color? 
  • What are the opportunities for our alternatives assessment methods to more effectively incorporate environmental justice considerations?

Applying alternatives assessment methods can minimize the likelihood of unintended consequences that can result from a shift away from a hazardous chemical without fully understanding the safety and feasibility of potential alternatives. Yet given that each assessor establishes specific boundaries for the assessment, it may be informed by a limited set of stakeholders which constrains the ability of the assessor to navigate trade-offs among the alternatives identified. How do we ensure that the voices of vulnerable and disproportionately impacted populations are adequately heard and addressed? How do we also ensure that these populations do not bear the impact of trade-offs that are made? Where is there opportunity for improvement?

We hope you can join us for this important discussion.  A4’s Summer 2020 webinar will feature:

José Bravo, Executive Director of the Just Transition Alliance and esteemed national and international environmental justice leader

Veena Singla, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-author of a recent report, “Selecting Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals and Ensuring the Protection of the Most Vulnerable.”