Differences in social vulnerability across Richmond meant that the city’s resilience plan didn’t work equally well for all neighborhoods. To enhance their plan, the city worked with partners to develop a novel tool—the Climate Equity Index—to document neighborhood vulnerability to climate impacts.
Located in the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont along the James River, Richmond—the state capital—is an historic and diverse city that encompasses a number of unique neighborhoods. Throughout the city’s history, discriminatory policies have shaped these neighborhoods, establishing and entrenching inequities among its residents. The legacy of policies that favor one group over another is now a major hurdle that must be cleared in order to build the city’s resilience.
Richmond is not alone in this problem. Social vulnerability to climate change is a growing concern that communities across the United States must face. Factors such as poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing can weaken a community’s ability to respond to disaster; the same factors are associated with an increased risk of human suffering and economic loss.