The reality is that most hazardous industries have left high-income countries like the United States, seeking pollution havens in low-income countries with absent or poorly enforced environmental regulations, resulting in environmental and health disparities for some of the world’s most economically vulnerable people. Often, these environmental issues are inextricably related to severe poverty, endemic malnutrition and disease, violence, social injustices, and climate change.
The more recent and rapid development of 'green' energy has resulted in massive increase in mining for lithium, copper, cobalt, and other minerals. It seems obvious that the existential threat posed by climate change should not be addressed by shifting additional injustices onto marginalized communities, yet this is an emerging pattern. Vulnerable communities shoulder the burdens of mining and resource extraction, including severe environmental degradation and chronic health impacts, subsidizing the cost of cleaner energy. A truly equitable solution supports communities in self-determination of their role in mining development and protection of their environment and health for generations to come.
Our projects are firmly rooted in collaborative approaches to addressing health issues associated with environmental contamination. People must be able to make a living, but it should not be at the cost of their health or the health of their families. To achieve our mission, we work in multiple impact areas.
TIFO was founded in 2012 by Margrit von Braun and Ian von Lindern to address growing disparities in environmental health. TIFO is the non-profit successor to the TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering (TG)/University of Idaho International Initiative. TG worked with local, state, and federal governments to address environmental contamination in the US, including remediation at the Bunker Hill Superfund Site. The Initiative adapted and implemented hazardous waste site cleanup methods to the cultural and socio-economic realities of low and middle-income countries. Drs. von Braun and von Lindern established TIFO to continue this work in the non-profit sector.