OCR’s Title VI enforcement program is allied with Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and the HHS Climate Action Plan, and is an essential component of HHS’s efforts in achieving equitable health outcomes for all. HHS OCR is charged with Title VI enforcement and ensuring that Federal money for health care and social service programs is not used to support programs or activities that discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin. Title VI can be used as a vehicle to help ensure that all people can effectively participate in and benefit from federally funded programs and activities. OCR recognizes that lack of meaningful access to programs and activities can impact health outcomes, especially in communities facing environmental injustice. OCR is committed to educating local communities on what OCR does and soliciting public input on how OCR can best serve local communities.
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Lack of meaningful access to programs and activities can impact health outcomes, especially in communities facing environmental injustice.
Executive Order 14008, entitled Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (2021), directs federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities. As part of President Joe Biden’s whole-of-government approach to confronting the climate crisis, HHS has released its Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan to bolster resilience of its operations and assets from the accelerating impacts of climate change.
HHS identified five priority actions that will be implemented through its mission, programs, operations, and management of procurement, real property, public lands and waters, and financial programs:
- Expand existing climate change-related public health and biomedical research activities;
- Improve HHS responses to the climate crisis;
- Develop climate-resilient grant policies at HHS;
- Workplace optimization and effective space management for climate resilience; and
- Promote sustainable and climate resilient operations at HHS facilities.
This plan represents a concerted effort to enhance resilience and adaptation to climate change throughout the activities of HHS. Effective action to build resilience to climate change-related health, economic, and other threats is essential to fulfilling the HHS mission to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans. This list of five adaptation actions is the first step in HHS’s climate resilience efforts, with additional actions to be identified and initiated as the plan is implemented.
HHS is committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Americans by integrating environmental justice and equity into its work to build a safer, healthier future.
- Read the full HHS plan and policy statement
- Learn about the threats of climate change on human health. Explore by topic and region.
HHS has also established an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity that serves as a coordinating body to make this goal a reality.
Executive Order 12898, entitled Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income Populations (1994), requires each Federal agency to make achieving environmental justice part of its mission.
The HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan and annual reports can be found on the Environmental Justice at HHS web page.
OCR’s Involvement in Environmental Justice
Title VI can be used to help ensure that all people can effectively participate in and benefit from federally funded programs and activities. OCR’s Title VI enforcement program is allied with Executive Orders 14008, 12898, the HHS Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, and the HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against under Title VI in programs or activities that HHS directly operates or to which HHS provides federal financial assistance, you may file a complaint with OCR. You may file a complaint for yourself or for someone else. Learn more about filing a complaint with OCR.