UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Multi-dimensional urban environmental justice analysis : exploring patterns, synergies, and trade-offs in Metro Vancouver Ren, Shuoqi


The United Nations has recognized that everyone has the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment; however, the uneven spatial distribution of demographics and environmental quality can result in disproportionate exposure to environmental risks or lack of access to benefits for disadvantaged groups, leading to distributive environmental injustice. Additionally, the changing climate and environment may exacerbate injustice over time, resulting in vulnerable groups facing more risks. Given the unclear spatial distributions of multidimensional environmental quality and environmental justice over time in Metro Vancouver, this study aims to: 1) characterize the patterns of multi-dimensional environmental quality and related injustice that consider interactions, synergies, and trade-offs between multiple environmental factors and 2) investigate the changes in these patterns over time between 2006 and 2016. This study applies two methods to assess multi-dimensional environmental quality: one aims to represent variations in two dimensions of environmental quality, and the other constructs multiple environmental indices to assess the composite environmental quality. Environmental injustice is characterized using regression models and group differences, which aim to reveal the limited access to favourable environments or increased exposure to unfavourable environments for disadvantaged populations. This thesis generated environmental quality maps at dissemination area (DA) resolution for 2006 and 2016, then explored spatial distributional environmental injustice patterns in Metro Vancouver and their changes over time. Across different metrics of environmental quality, environmental injustice patterns are changing through time and across space; these changing patterns are driven by different aspects of environmental quality. Although environmental quality is generally higher in 2016, it is not evenly distributed. More materially and socially deprived populations lived in areas with fewer environmental benefits and/or more burdens. Injustice is also not improving for all groups: for instance, South Asian residents of the region experienced more injustice across a number of environmental quality variables in 2016 compared to 2006. Based on the local-level characterization of demographics and environmental quality, this study identifies specific DAs with high percentages of disadvantaged populations, unfavourable environmental quality, and high levels of injustice, which could suggest priorities for interventions.

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