Climate Justice Meets Global Health in the Time of COVID-19


  • Teresa Córdova, PhD UIC Great Cities Institute
  • Janet Lin, MD, MPH, MBA UIC College of Medicine
  • Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH Global Health Institute, UW-Madison
  • Juliana Pino, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
  • Warren Lavey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Rachel Havrelock, PhD UIC Freshwater Lab
  • Pam Tau Lee, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, UC Berkeley
  • Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Jerry A. Krishnan, MD, PhD Population Health Services, UI Health
  • José Bravo, Just Transition Alliance
  • Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform

The discussion of the intersection of climate justice and global health is an urgent one, all the more so in the time of COVID-19. In May 2020, the UIC Great Cities Institute and the Center for Global Health convened a panel of experts, including academics, practitioners, and activists across fields and geographies to shed light on the circumstances of COVID-19 and to present solutions for a better, just world after the pandemic. Crises also create windows of opportunity, and as we move forward in a world with or without COVID-19, we must seize any and all opportunities to create the future that we want to live and have, moving past previous constraints.

So many of us in this past year, since the first reports in January of the emergence of a virus in Wuhan, China, have experienced time in surprising ways. As COVID-19 traveled across the globe and arrived in our communities and homes, time has moved both at light speed and at a snail’s pace. In May 2020, many Americans had just received $1,200 stimulus checks from the federal government. For many low-income families, those checks were not enough. Many working families in the United States, particularly immigrant families, did not qualify to receive them. Also in May 2020, the federal government announced Operation Warp Speed, a public-private initiative with the sole focus of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. In May 2020 we had just adjusted perhaps to our new vocabulary of quarantine and shutdown, flattening the curve, social distancing, and masking. At the time of this conversation, more than 74,000 people in the United States had died of COVID-19, and 255,000 people worldwide.

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