Equity and Environmental Justice

NASA‘s Earth Science Division (ESD) is committed to ensuring that the investment the nation has made in NASA satellites and science benefits people across the U.S. and helps them make informed decisions about the very real challenges they face in their communities.

Four goals frame ESD’s equity and environmental justice strategy for expanded engagement with communities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropies, academia, industry, and federal and partners: 

Goal 1: Conduct assessments of current environmental justice engagements, barriers and gaps, and opportunities. 

Goal 2: Engage with a range of organizations involved with an impacted by environmental justice and harvest lessons and potential partnerships for the strategy. 

Goal 3: Host data accessibility and utility sessions. 

Goal 4: Enable transdisciplinary science and applications that integrate physical and social science using NASA datasets. 

To begin to address these goals, ESD conducted a community listening workshop and released a solicitation to advance progress on equity and environmental justice.

2021 Community Listening Workshop

ESD and NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) organized their first community listening workshop on Oct. 20, 2021. Titled "NASA’s Equity and Environmental Justice Virtual Workshop,” the workshop featured representatives from social science research organizations who engage with environmental justice research and communities.


ROSES-2021 Equity & Environmental Justice Solicitation

On Dec. 8, 2021, ESD released a new opportunity in Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES)-2021, A.49 Earth Science Applications: Equity and Environmental Justice, to advance progress on equity and environmental justice (EEJ) domestically through the application of Earth science, geospatial, and socioeconomic information. This solicitation includes three elements: 1.) Landscape analyses, 2.) Community-based feasibility projects, and 3.) Data integration projects that combine Earth science information and socioeconomic datasets.

ROSES-2022 Environmental and Climate Justice Subelements

On Feb. 14, 2022, ESD released Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES)-2022, A.28 Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science, Subelement 4: Environmental and Climate Justice using Earth Observations. This program subelement was designed to address questions at the intersection of Earth observations and environmental/climate justice. The opportunity supports research and application communities to work with colleagues in social science disciplines to address complex and challenging problem that are relevant to environmental and climate justice communities worldwide.

Additional EEJ Resources

Environmental Justice at NASA Backgrounder: NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program has compiled a “backgrounder” with information about how NASA data are being used to support environmental and climate justice efforts along with use cases showing how scientists and decision-makers are applying a wide combination of datasets to assess the vulnerability and exposure of communities to environmental challenges. Visit the backgrounder at: https://earthdata.nasa.gov/learn/backgrounders/environmental-justice

“Environmental Justice: A Call to Action with NASA Earth Observations” by Sativa Cruz A NASA intern, Sativa Cruz, focused her time on Diversity and Inclusion at NASA. The agency believes in driving innovation, creativity and employee engagement by fostering an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for all. This article provides insights into environmental justice and offers a rich source list. Visit the article at: https://appliedsciences.nasa.gov/our-impact/story/environmental-justice-call-action-nasa-earth-observations


City dwellers are feeling the effects as increasing urbanization and climate change are worsening the effects of Urban Heat Islands and associated temperature-related risks. NASA satellite data are being used to map heat risk potential by neighborhoods, such as shown here for the city of Sacramento. Hotter areas are shown in orange, with darker colors indicating even higher urban heat levels. City officials and urban planners use this data to inform investment in cooling interventions.