News Release 1.21.2015


“Climate change is recognized as one of the most significant environmental challenges of our time,” said Summer Waters, director of the Sonoran Institute’s Western Lands and Communities program. “Our findings indicate that Latino neighborhoods are often disproportionately impacted by warming due to urban heat island impacts and other environmental issues. Bottom line – climate change impacts can present significant threats to these underserved, vulnerable populations – and we need to have an action plan to help these communities. In Phoenix, this means engaging Latinos who live in areas where we are already seeing some of the most dramatic impacts of climate change.”

The research, Survey on the Impact of Climate Change on Latino Communities in Arizona, Perspectives from Civic and Community Leaders, involved two phases of work; (1) detailed interviews with over 20 elected officials and community leaders, representing multiple communities in Arizona, and (2) a focus group discussion on the key survey findings held at the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) on August 18, 2014, with Latino community leaders in Arizona and representatives of conservation and environmental groups in the state.

“This research is valuable since it highlights how vulnerable our Latino communities are in Phoenix,” said Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego. “It seems clear that the anticipated negative impacts of climate change in Arizona – from heat waves, flooding, and other severe weather – will be more disproportionate on these neighborhoods than on others.”

For communities in Arizona and in the Intermountain West, the impacts of climate change are expected to be severe in terms of temperature increases, shifts in precipitation patterns and snowpack levels resulting in extended drought and extreme weather events.

Waters indicated that a compelling finding from the research is that climate change is not currently a priority issue of concern for Latinos in Arizona. “Latinos are primarily focused on issues that have tremendous implications for their daily lives such as civil rights, voter engagement, jobs, and economic development for their communities,” said Waters. “However, a strong majority understand that a changing climate will impact their families’ health and economic vitality in the future so it is important that we support expanded efforts to prepare Latino communities for these changes through education programs, energy and water conservation initiatives, and community outreach.”

“It is important to engage the Latino community to make climate change a more immediate and prominent issue,” said Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela.  “With this information, we see an opportunity for education and engagement on the climate issue. Most helpful would be engaging and educating the youth and leaders in all of our communities on climate change, and using communications to build awareness about what can be done about it.”

Other Key Survey Findings:

Changing Climate – Over 75% of respondents said the weather in their community is getting worse. Many have experienced a wide range of unusual weather events over the past year, including extreme heat, dust storms, and drought.

Linkage – 95% of respondents believe that there is a link between extreme weather events and climate change.

Clean Air – Latinos in Arizona are much more likely to live in areas that experience frequent clean air violations.

Health – According to the Centers for Disease Control, Hispanic children are 3.2 times more likely to suffer from asthma than the general population.

Economic – Sustained higher air temperatures result in increased electricity usage and higher energy bills. This can lead to a much a larger rise in energy costs for urban residents, particularly in poorer communities.

Relevance – A significant majority of respondents agreed that health and financial impacts of climate change are already being felt by Latino communities, and that these impacts will continue to grow and affect future generations.

“The survey and initial findings of this report represent the first piece of what we hope will become a larger body of work helping communities address climate impacts,” said Waters.

The full report and findings from the Survey on the Impact of Climate Change on Latino Communities in Arizona, Perspectives from Civic and Community Leaders, can be found on

Contacts:             Summer Waters/602.393.4310, x.309/

Hannah Oliver/602.393.4310, x.316/

Nicole Gonzalez Patterson/602.316.1343/


This project is a joint initiative of the Sonoran Institute and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, with support from the Arizona Community Foundation. This project was made possible with funding from the Alki Fund of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

Founded in 1990, the Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. The Institute is a nonprofit organization that is working to shape the future of the West. For more information, visit

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is the leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Providing high quality education and research, the Lincoln Institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy. For more information, visit

In the 100-year-old tradition of community foundations across the country, the Arizona Community Foundation and its statewide Affiliates harness the collective generosity of thousands of Arizonans. For more information, visit