Gulf Coast recovery and restoration

Fisherman Lloyde Duncan(l) of Venice, LA has fished all his life. Photo: Audra Melton/Oxfam America

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Working together to build resilient communities along the Gulf Coast 

In recent years, the people and the environment of the Gulf Coast have endured a series of terrible blows. When the BP oil spill hit in 2010, coastal communities were still reeling and recovering from several devastating hurricanes – Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, and Isaac. These events destroyed homes and businesses, battered wetlands, and decimated fishing beds and oyster reefs.

Oxfam is committed to helping the most vulnerable communities recover from these disasters. This means restoring the coastal environment on which they rely for their livelihoods, and helping people get back to work.

A truly resilient community can endure the shocks of a disaster more easily, and it can restore and rebuild – homes, businesses, environmental resources, community buildings, and spirits. But this resilience requires active citizens, hardworking community organizations and responsive government able to ensure equitable and inclusive recovery.

Restoring vital resources to safeguard ecosystems and communities

After the BP oil spill in 2010, Oxfam played a crucial role in advocating for passage of the RESTORE Act in 2012. This historic measure ensures that when BP and other companies responsible for the spill pay civil fines, the money will go directly to the Gulf Coast to restore vulnerable communities, ecosystems, local economies and working families. Oxfam helped craft language in the legislation to promote the training and hiring of local workers in new ecosystem restoration jobs, ensuring local communities can benefit from the Gulf’s multi-billion dollar restoration economy.

Oxfam also helped pass laws in Louisiana and Mississippi to complement the RESTORE Act to give local people a first shot at new jobs that will be created with the civil fines. Oxfam continues to work to ensure that these policies are implemented in ways that bring economic and environmental benefits to the most vulnerable communities through coastal restoration projects and skill training and hiring processes to employ people most affected by the oil spill.

To support our policy positions, Oxfam has issued several research reports:

  • Building the Gulf: Findings from a 2014 workshop convened by Oxfam America, the Nature Conservancy, and the Corps Network, where experts sought to identify challenges and opportunities in integrating workforce development into future ecosystem restoration projects. 
  • A Way of Life at Risk: On the fourth anniversary of the BP oil spill in April, 2014, Oxfam released a report that explores how the oil spill devastated fishing communities along the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
  • The Economic Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems is a report from Oxfam and the Center for American Progress (CAP) that analyzes the economic benefits generated by coastal restoration projects, and shows that long-term economic benefits can far exceed project costs.  
  • Integrating Social Science and Gulf Coast Restoration contains findings from a social science workshop sponsored by Oxfam and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2013. A group of 55 scholars and practitioners convened to consider how coastal residents’ needs, knowledge, and concerns can be addressed in sound restoration projects.
  • Contracting Preferences for Restore Act-Funded Projects offers recommendations to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council on prioritizing local hiring.
  • Beyond Recovery: Moving the Gulf Coast Toward a Sustainable Future proposes a plan to restore the region, building on existing assets and leveraging incoming federal funding to spark innovation and collaboration, putting local communities to work.
  • Rebuilding Our Economy, Restoring Our Environment is a report from Oxfam and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that explores how the emerging restoration economy offers new and expanded opportunities for Gulf Coast businesses and communities.
  • One Gulf, Resilient Gulf is a report co-signed by over 120 Gulf Coast organizations presenting a plan for a community-based environmental and economic recovery effort drafted immediately after the 2010 BP Oil Spill.

Partnering to restore and rebuild communities

Oxfam combines financial support to key partner organizations with on-the-ground technical support as it focuses on addressing long-standing regional issues, including coastal restoration and economic development based on green jobs.

Oxfam America is proud to partner with these organizations in Louisiana and Mississippi:

  • Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), based in Thibodaux, LA, is a network of churches and faith-based organizations that advocates for solutions to the coastal erosion affecting Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.
  • GO FISH (Gulf Organized Fisheries in Solidarity & Hope) is a multi-cultural coalition of grassroots organizations representing fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers, crabbers, and community members from across the Gulf Coast states. The groups banded together after the oil spill to advocate for the rights of fishermen, restoring fisheries, and preserving fishing community culture.
  • Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVN) has been assisting Vietnamese Americans in New Orleans East to recover from the oil spill and adapt to its impacts. MQVN has five strategies: facilitate community access to resources to rebuild lives, develop affordable senior housing, revitalize neighborhood business and commercial districts, ensure the inclusion of community voices in decision-making processes, and organize the community.
  • Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks and Families addresses the immediate and long-term needs of the Vietnamese-American communities in Mississippi that have been adversely impacted by the BP Oil Spill.
  • Moore Community House/Women in Construction Program trains low-income women for careers in the construction trades, enabling them to pursue careers which will earn wages to promote self-sufficiency. It also helps to meet the industry's demand for a trained workforce on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
  • Steps Coalition is composed of 53 nonprofits, churches, and civic groups with the mission to build a democratic movement to create a healthy, just and equitable Mississippi Gulf Coast. They develop local leadership, support communities to advocate for their needs, and facilitate communication, coordination, and collaboration among the membership.
  • The Urban League of Greater New Orleans (ULGNO) works to effect change in economic and educational issues that adversely affect African-Americans and others living in greater New Orleans. They focus on economic and community development, educational attainment and public policy.
  • Zion Travelers Cooperative Center (ZTCC) was created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a relief and recovery center to serve the African-American community of Phoenix, LA. ZTCC leads a youth leadership program to help children understand the importance of coastal resources for their future, and advocates at local, state and national levels to raise community voices on coastal issues.

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