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Jackson Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant to Address Health, Equity and Effects of Climate Change

Posted on February 8, 2021


February 8, 2021


“Adapting nature-based solutions from Spain, Cuba, and Japan to address the urban-heat-island-effect in Jackson, MS,” project to address effects of extreme heat on frontline residents

(JACKSON, MS) – TODAY, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba discussed details of a newly awarded $475,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) explicitly aimed at implementing solutions to address health, equity, and climate change. Received in partnership with 2°C Mississippi and the National League of Cities (NLC), the grant is part of a $3 million initiative by RWJF to bring the most impactful ideas from abroad to mitigate the health impacts of climate change in U.S. cities, and will support Jackson’s, “Adapting nature-based solutions from Spain, Cuba, and Japan to address the urban-heat-island-effect in Jackson, MS,” project. The endeavor is designed to reduce mortality and prevent illness associated with urban heat island effects in Jackson while providing a range of social, economic, cultural, and ecological co-benefits for the city’s most at-risk residents.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Jackson and we are grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as to our other grant partners on this project for their support and investment in our city,” said Mayor Lumumba. “Extreme heat is not an equal opportunity threat. It disproportionally affects people of color, young children, the elderly, socially isolated individuals, and people with chronic health conditions or limited mobility. With this grant and project, we reaffirm our commitment to reducing health vulnerabilities in Jackson.”

The proposed heat mitigation plan is further part of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s broader strategic plan that takes a holistic, systems-thinking approach to health, education, and the environment in the City of Jackson. Healthy Citizens is the first goal of the “Dignity Economy,” the city’s strategic plan and vision for a new economic model. The project will also add momentum to the city’s community-driven comprehensive plan which together will drive the initiatives of the Planning, Parks, and Recreation, and Public Works Departments.

“2°C Mississippi has been working with the city of Jackson on developing several of its first municipal climate actions for over a year and we are extremely grateful for the Mayor’s interest and support for this crucial issue,” said Dr. Dominika Parry, the founding president of 2°C Mississippi and the project’s director. “This RWJF funded project is community-driven, pioneering work that takes a holistic approach to climate change by simultaneously addressing equity, workforce development, education, and economic wellbeing. This approach has been promoted across the country, but Jackson will be one of the first places where we actually implement it.”

The project focuses on medium and long-term heat mitigation strategies borrowing a combination of nature-based interventions from successful solutions developed in Barcelona, Spain; Havana, Cuba; and Okaya, Japan. Customizing these models for the local context in Jackson is key to project success, as is the full engagement of residents and community leaders. Their expertise and participation will be critical to the project’s longevity and efficacy in producing marked improvements in health outcomes for low-income and historically underserved communities of color.

“NLC could not be more thrilled to be a partner on this health, climate, and equity project, now supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities. “The holistic approach that Jackson takes to addressing these issues sets the standard for other medium-sized cities that are facing extreme heat and health challenges. We look forward to continuing our support for Jackson’s community-driven solutions!”

The project will be supported by a wide range of experts: Dr. Alan Penman, 2CMississippi and UMMC,  Dr. Vivek Shandas, Portland State University professor and CAPA Strategies Founder; Dr. Berneece S. Herbert, Department Chair of the Urban and Regional Planning program at Jackson State University; and Kurt Shickman, Executive Director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) and Anna Marandi, Senior Specialist in climate and sustainability at NLC.

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