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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Disparate Impact And Ecosystem Services As Tools For Community Activism


Environmental movements have been hindered in utilizing disparate impact as an effective legal mechanism for change. Since the 2001 Sandoval ruling limited the private right of action for Title VI disparate impact claims, environmental justice advocates have adopted the disparate impact framework as a persuasive tool to analyze, investigate, and challenge inequitable development. Concurrently, ecosystem services have blossomed as a growing field. The ecosystem services framework asserts that ecosystems providee conomic and health benefits for communities. However, this framework faces challenges with value recognition and visibility, lack of implementation within existing institutional frameworks, and inequitable access. This article explicitly combines the disparate impact and ecosystem services frameworks together to strengthen each other. Specifically, this article argues that incorporating ecosystem services within disparate impact analyses can provide new persuasive data and evidence for environmental justice movements. Additionally, environmental justice advocates utilizing ecosystem services frameworks can increase the field’s visibility, data, and provide more information regarding inequitable ecosystem access.

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