RCE Greater Atlanta - 2023

Equity Opportunities: Drawdown Georgia Solutions Project
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Equity Opportunities: Drawdown Georgia Solutions Project
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Atlanta
Contributing organization(s) : 
Partnership for Southern Equity, Taproot, Center for Sustainable Communities, RCE Greater Atlanta AGs (Advancing Justice for all and Business Engagement), Drawdown Georgia, climate-justice organizations, GT Serve-Learn-Sustain, GT Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Michael Oxman
Organizational Affiliation: 
Georgia Institute of Technology
Anne Heard, EPA
Rebecca Watts Hull
Organizational Affiliation: 
Georgia Institute of Technology
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Links to numerous policies across federal, state, and local as well as offers a range of educational opportunities to explore regarding climate justice and equity. This report offers an opportunity for research, education, and engagement with communities
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Links to numerous policies across federal, state, and local as well as offers a range of educational opportunities to explore regarding climate justice and equity. This report offers an opportunity for research, education, and engagement with communities
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Links to numerous policies across federal, state, and local as well as offers a range of educational opportunities to explore regarding climate justice and equity. This report offers an opportunity for research, education, and engagement with communities
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
United States
Greater Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology
800 W Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30332
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The focus is on under resourced communities across Georgia and the benefits/challenges of engagement with carbon mitigation solutions.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Equity, climate, energy burden, workforce, community engagement, public health, food systems, forests
January, 2021
The project focuses on considering and enhancing equity considerations in the design and deployment of climate action solutions. It is intended, as a start, to engage community voices especially from communities not typically “at the table”, such as those enduring the heavy energy burdens within the greater Atlanta region and farmers with limited resources due to historical inequities. In terms of solution access, there is a risk with any large-scale transition that those with limited influence or means could be overlooked or harmed by solution implementation without intentional policies and provisions to prevent this. For example, rooftop solar is one of the leading electricity generation solutions, but solar installations are typically only affordable to higher income individuals, thereby reducing benefits and even elevating costs for low-income customers.

Similarly, with respect to workforce development, the 2019 Solar Jobs Census found that only 26% of the solar workforce were women, and 73.2% of the workforce was white. Georgia ranks below national levels in terms of diversity, as women consist of only 18.9% of the solar workforce, and 76.6% of the workforce is white.
The overall objective of this project is to ensure equity is considered and integrated into future large-scale low carbon solutions with Drawdown Georgia providing the framework for doing so. Other objectives include:
- Engaging equity / climate justice focused organizations and businesses on potential approaches to addressing the two specific topics noted (that tie closely to SDGs 10 and 13)
- Inspiring student-led engagement opportunities on the solutions and their intersections with equity
- Expanding RCE / university participation and interest (particularly among HBCUs) in Drawdown and related climate change initiatives
- Integrating existing approaches/tools as the Racial Equity Impact Assessment tool (REIA)
Activities and/or practices employed: 
- The Drawdown Georgia research team proposed 20 high impact solutions for the state of Georgia across five categories: energy, transportation, the built environment, food/agriculture, and forest/land use.
- A sixth working group was also created, called “Beyond Carbon”, to focus on additional environmental considerations, equity, economic development, and public health across all solutions.
- This project did a deeper dive on equity for a few of the solutions in the hopes it might inspire further such work on other solutions.
- A team of roughly 15 RCE Greater Atlanta volunteers worked together to prioritize a few solutions for focus of the report (members in two of action groups: Advancing Justice for All (AJFA) and Business Engagement.
- We hired one consultant to identify state-wide experts and equity stakeholders and then two consultants to focus on different solutions featured in the report, gathering challenges, opportunities, and recommendations from stakeholders
- We edited the reports, compiled an introduction, and published the report
The findings highlight barriers associated with: climate action solution awareness; affordability; wealth inequities affecting communities with the greatest energy burden; racial inequities in access to loans for capital investment; gaps in rural broadband and mobility infrastructure; misalignment between the requirements and processes of governmental programs and communities with the greatest need; heirs’ property land tenure that reflects historic racial discrimination; and policy, particularly with respect to scaling up solutions such as solar and conservation agriculture, as well as institutional food procurement practices that make sourcing from small farms to institutions very difficult.

Public outreach can increase awareness of and engagement in carbon reduction activities throughout Georgia communities. Participation from historically underrepresented communities in all stages of research and implementation of solutions can help to ensure that equity is a central consideration. Commitments from corporate and academic institutions can help to advance equity in the implementation of carbon solutions. Institutions can help to support focused climate and equity programming. They can also advance equity via procurement practices, workforce development opportunities, research, and education.
Lessons learned: 
Large scope in terms of geography, number of potential stakeholders, and need to conduct this type of engagement earlier in process.
Key messages: 
Transition to a low carbon economy has some benefits for all, but specific challenges and risks for historically underrepresented individuals and communities. This study uncovered some of these.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
Collaborating with the Youth Network, Higher Education, and Equity, Diversity, and Racial Justice Action groups


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon BFN This Old Farmhouse GA.jpg (15.94 MB) The founders of This Old Farmhouse GA, an historic farm homestead museum. Farmers Joan Vernon, Bettina Vernon and Tammy Harris are the agritourism renovators and family of This Old Farmhouse GA in Franklin County, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Black Farmers' Network
Image icon BFN Howard James.jpg (2.82 MB) Farmer Howard James owns and operates Jibbs Vineyard in Dooly County, Georgia. Black Farmers Network
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
Traditional Knowledge  
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: