The National Academies

ACRP 02-99 [Pending]

Incorporating Environmental Justice and Equity Principles and Data into Airport Decision-Making

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete

Environmental justice has historically focused on ensuring that vulnerable populations do not bear a disproportionate burden of the negative environmental impacts of policies, programs, and projects and that these communities are meaningfully included in planning and public outreach.  There is increased emphasis on ensuring that airport activities and investments lead to a more sustainable and just economy that addresses historical racial injustices and enhances the quality of life for vulnerable populations. Yet airports do not have an established framework for incorporating environmental justice and equity into airport decision-making. These decisions often require the use of robust datasets that are frequently large and may come from disparate sources, and the thoughtful interpretation of the data through the lens of environmental justice may be difficult for airports.
Research is needed to develop resources to educate and support airport practitioners in integrating environmental justice and equity into decision-making. This includes, but is not limited to, the collection, sharing, interpretation, and incorporation of equity and environmental justice data in a manner that enhances how development and operational decisions can positively affect the economic and social well-being of neighboring communities.
The objective of this research is to prepare resources to educate and support airport practitioners in integrating environmental justice and equity into decision-making. The resources should include, at a minimum:
  • Primer providing the historical context of systemic racism in the transportation sector with specific focus on unique aspects relative to airports (e.g., siting, operations, organizational staffing, planning, balancing benefits and burdens, access) and present-day implications;
  • Toolkit consisting of guidance and techniques to:
    • Enable airports to assess:
      • The degree to which their organization’s decision-making includes input from vulnerable populations,
      • How their decision-making has affected equity and environmental justice outcomes, and how it might affect them in the future, and
      • Their cultural competency and institutional capacity to address these issues and drive improved outcomes;
    • Identify and connect public and private stakeholders based on their needs, priorities, missions, responsibilities, and resources;
    • Solicit input from vulnerable populations throughout the decision-making process;
    • Identify data needs, sources (including proxies), and gaps;
    • Assess the relevancy and value of existing and emerging demographic and socioeconomic data;
    • Collect quantitative and qualitative data needed for decision-making;
    • Select and use the appropriate environmental justice tools (e.g., screening tools, mapping tools, and other analytical tools) for decision-making;
    • Mitigate cumulative adverse environmental justice and equity impacts in the decision-making;
    • Incorporate equity and environmental justice considerations into airport plans and actions in a holistic manner;
    • Communicate results to non-technical audiences; and
    • Assess and monitor outcomes;
  • Case study examples demonstrating successful incorporation of equity and environmental justice into decision-making, or lessons learned (see Special Note B);
  • List of resources; and
  • Glossary of equity and environmental justice terms.
The guidance and techniques should be consistent with FAA regulations, scalable and adaptable to the unique conditions of the airport, including airport type, size, governance, and resource availability.
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to provide a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables:
  • Literature review, primer outline, and initial list of resources;
  • Draft primer;
  • Interim report documenting the research effort and results of the project to date, including the recommended case study candidates (including number and rationale), listing and description of proposed tools, and recommended next steps.
The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP project panel: (1) kickoff web meeting to be held within 1 month of contract execution; (2) web meeting to discuss literature review, primer outline, and initial list of resources; (3) web meeting to review the draft primer; and (4) interim meeting to review the results of the interim report and confirm remaining research approach.
The final deliverables will include: 
  • Primer;
  • Toolkit;
  • Final report documenting all research steps and results;
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research Memo; and
  • Technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.
STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to preform the work.

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