We Need to Prioritize Our Coast

Giving to environmental causes falls far short in the Super Region.
courtesy NOAA Climate.gov
TOP: the state of the coast in 1932. BOTTOM: a satellite image from 2011 of the same area. 1,900 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal land has erroded since the 1930s.

Louisiana has the most miles of vulnerable coastline per capita of any state in the country. We are also the only state with a master plan for protecting our coast.

With more than $8 billion of federal investment in the pipeline for coastal restoration and urban water management, thousands of jobs will soon be created in these industries in Southeast Louisiana.

Philanthropic investment can leverage these billions of federal dollars to ensure they do more than fortify our coast. It can help connect marginalized communities to these jobs, so that we are building social resilience at the same time that we build environmental resilience. Government watchdogging and advocacy will be essential to ensure that these dollars are not diverted to other state interests.

Unfortunately, in 2012, just 5.3 percent of total grant giving by foundations in the Southeast Louisiana Super Region went to environmental causes. In contrast, national foundations gave 7.1 percent of all their nationwide grants to environmental causes.
All total, foundations based in the Southeast Louisiana Super Region give $2.94 per capita to environmental causes. Foundations nationwide give $4.62 per capita to environmental causes.

Greater national and local philanthropic investment will be needed to ensure we have the critical inputs needed to support the restoration of our coast and the development of a sustainable water management industry. Among the 17 states with highly vulnerable coastlines, Louisiana currently ranks No. 10 in per capita grant receiving for environmental causes.

Did you know?

Louisiana can do better

How 17 states with highly vulnerable coastlines rank in per capita grant-receiving for environmental causes:

1. Virginia $13.82

2. California $11

3. New York $7.25

4. Georgia $5.25

5. Massachusetts $6.51

6. Washington $4.67

7. Oregon $3.11

8. Maryland $2.24

9. Delaware $2.06

10. Louisiana $1.79

11. Texas $1.64

12. North Carolina $1.46

13. New Jersey $1.36

14. Florida $0.89

15. South Carolina $0.49

16. Alabama $0.41

17. Mississippi $0.21

Allison Plyer is executive director and chief demographer of The Data Center in New Orleans. Dr. Plyer is author of The New Orleans Index series, developed in collaboration with the Brookings Institution to track the region’s progress toward prosperity, and she leads The Data Center’s research on the development of the water management cluster in Southeast Louisiana as published in The Coastal Index series.


Categories: The Magazine