People Places Planet

Welcome to People Places Planet, ELI's leading environmental podcast. We talk to leading experts across sectors who share their solutions to the world's most pressing environmental problems. Tune in for the latest environmental law, policy, and governance developments.

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Over the last three decades, numerous studies have concluded that African American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and working-class White communities are disproportionately exposed to environmental harms and climate risks. Several states have initiated litigation to address this environmental and public health issue. In this episode, Barry E. Hill and Emily Bergeron discuss their April 2024 ELR article Climate Justice Litigation in the United States—A Primer and explore how states and tribes can learn from Kivalina. 

The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Water for Peace”.  With over 2 billion people around the world lacking clean water access, tensions can arise within communities and between countries. Further complicating the issue, around 40 percent of the global population lives in a transboundary river basin, making transboundary water cooperation essential to effective water resource management. This episode explores how the Women in Water Diplomacy Network is empowering global women water decision-makers and experts to strengthen transboundary water cooperation. Host Sarah Backer is joined by Elizabeth Koch, Senior Manager for International Programs at ELI, and Gwendena Lee-Gatewood, the Co-Chair of the Indigenous Women's Leadership Network and former Tribal Chairwoman for the White Mountain Apache Tribe.  

Inspired? Reach out to Elizabeth Koch at if you are interested in supporting and contributing to the Women in Water Diplomacy Network.  

Billions of people around the globe lack adequate access to clean water. This freshwater crisis will be exacerbated by climate change. Liquid Asset: How Business and Government Can Partner to Solve the Freshwater Crisis explores the rapidly expanding role of private businesses and markets in ensuring supply of clean, safe, reliable, and affordable water. In this week’s episode of People Places Planet, Phillip Womble, postdoctoral scholar at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, sits down with author Buzz Thompson. Thompson is a Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law at Stanford Law School and a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment.  Tune in to learn more about how collaboration between business and government can help bring innovation to the water sector, from California to Cape Town.

Communities are exposed to pollution through the air, water, and land. Multiple sources of pollution and other environmental stressors can add up over time to cause adverse effects to human health and wellbeing. This is known as “cumulative impacts.” Environmental justice (EJ) communities tend to face greater cumulative impacts, as they are disproportionately exposed to multiple environmental, health, and social stressors. This episode of Groundtruth discusses new regulations in Massachusetts involving cumulative impact analyses for air permit issues in areas near EJ communities. Join Lauren Karam, Beveridge & Diamond's Boston Associate, Stella Keck, a Senior Scientist at Roux, and Andrew Shapero, a Senior Engineer at Roux, to learn more about how states, like Massachusetts, and the EPA are addressing cumulative impacts in EJ communities.  

Building scientific agreement is a meticulous process. In climate science, this process has faced a lot of outside scrutiny. In this episode, ELI’s Staff Scientist Dr. John Doherty joins Host Sarah Backer to discuss the responsibilities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and how they are communicating what we know about climate change. 

Relevant Resources: 
The Fifth National Climate Assessment Gives a Unique Spotlight to Climate Justice by Dr. John Doherty

The Climate Judiciary Project 

What do Wetlands have to do with wellbeing? As vibrant and critical ecosystems, wetlands provide economic, cultural, and climate benefits to communities worldwide. Yet, wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. ELI’s Wetlands Program is working to prevent these losses and reverse the trend. From breaking the news on national legal developments to spotlighting local leaders, ELI is the place for all things wetlands. In honor of World Wetlands Day, host Sarah Backer sits down with Rebecca Kihslinger, Senior Science and Policy Analyst at ELI and the Director of the Wetlands Program, Staff Attorney Tess Wilkerson, and Research Associate Jesse Ferraioli, to discuss how ELI is advancing wetlands law, policy, science, and management.  

You can find the Sackett webinar, as well as resources referenced in this podcast episode here

A lot has been said about COP28. It has been described as a success, failure, and everything in between, but what actually happened? This week, host Sarah Backer is joined by Jennifer Huang, Associate Director of International Strategies at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and Kaveh Guilanpour, Vice President of International Strategies at C2ES. Jennifer and Kaveh discuss their experiences at COP28 in Dubai and evaluate the success of COP28 and the global stocktake in galvanizing climate action and adaptation.  

It’s undeniable that we take water access for granted – until we don’t have it or until water quality degrades, anyways. With at least forty states anticipating water shortages this year, using water efficiently is more important than ever. This week, Sarah Backer is joined by Mary Ann Dickinson, Co-Chair of the Water and Planning Network for the American Planning Association, and Adam Schempp, Senior Attorney at ELI, to discuss water conservation strategies, the influence of law, and progress toward achieving reliable and safe water supplies today and in the future. 

Associated BlogStretching the Water Supply: The Importance of Water Efficiency Measures | Environmental Law Institute (

Consumers are seeking out ethically made and climate-friendly apparel to gift this holiday season. But how do they know whether their purchases are truly sustainable or eco-friendly? This week’s podcast episode explores the rise of greenwashing claims and the role of the Federal Trade Commission in guiding the industry and holding companies accountable for deceptive marketing claims. Host Sarah Backer sits down with Carolyn Kennedy, a 2024 JD Candidate at the Georgetown University Law Center, and Derek Sabori, an apparel industry veteran with more than 26 years of experience to discuss legal and industry perspectives on sustainable fashion.