Written by Jordan Roberts | October 22, 2014

Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, kicked off SXSW Eco 2014 with his Opening Remarks Keynote "Climate Change and Vulnerability: Why a Southern Region Climate and Community Resilience Initiative Is Needed." Plus, a special opening clip from the new Conservation International series "Nature is Speaking" with narration by Julia Roberts that debuted during SXSW Eco.

Prior to coming to TSU, Bullard was founding Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. He has been described as the "father of environmental justice." Dr. Bullard was featured in the July 2007 CNN People You Should Know, Bullard: Green Issue is Black and White and in 2008, Newsweek named him one of 13 Environmental Leaders of the Century.

The environment is everything - it's where we live, work, play, learn and worship. - Dr. Robert Bullard

During the Opening Remarks, Dr. Bullard discusses environmental justice which embraces the principle that all people and communities are entitled to equal protection of our environment, health, employment, education, housing, transportation, and civil rights laws. "Even in 2014, the best predictor of health and quality of life is zip code. That should not be." Dr. Bullard dives into the issues of social vulnerability reducing community resilience, and the right to healthy, livable and sustainable environments for all.

This presentation provides empirical evidence through maps and charts that detail how the Southern United States and its unique history, sociology, politics and geography present special challenges in addressing climate change and community resilience. Because of heightened vulnerability of the South, Dr. Bullard is calling for a special “southern initiative” on climate change and challenges historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to step up. He also offers the Climate Education Community University Partnership, twelve-state consortium of HBCUs and community based organizations in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic region, as one model to begin addressing climate change, social vulnerability and community resilience in low wealth and vulnerable communities that face elevated climate threats.

Watch Dr. Bullard's inspiring Opening Remarks Keynote video above about climate justice and community resilience. Stay tuned to sxsweco.com and our YouTube channel for more 2014 SXSW Eco Keynote and Featured Speaker videos coming soon!