ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

PRINCIPLES

Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held on October 24-27, 1991, in Washington DC, drafted and adopted 17 principles of Environmental Justice. Since then, The Principles have served as a defining document for the growing grassroots movement for environmental justice.

PREAMBLE

WE, THE PEOPLE OF COLOR, gathered together at this multinational People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, to begin to build a national and international movement of all peoples of color to fight the destruction and taking of our lands and communities, do hereby re-establish our spiritual interdependence to the sacredness of our Mother Earth; to respect and celebrate each of our cultures, languages and beliefs about the natural world and our roles in healing ourselves; to ensure environmental justice; to promote economic alternatives which would contribute to the development of environmentally safe livelihoods; and, to secure our political, economic and cultural liberation that has been denied for over 500 years of colonization and oppression, resulting in the poisoning of our communities and land and the genocide of our peoples, do affirm and adopt these Principles of Environmental Justice:

01

Environmental Justice affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right to be free from ecological destruction

02

Environmental Justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.

03

Environmental Justice mandates the right to ethical, balanced and responsible uses of land and renewable resources in the interest of a sustainable planet for humans and other living things.

04

Environmental Justice calls for universal protection from nuclear testing, extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons and nuclear testing that threaten the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food.

05

Environmental Justice affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples.

06

Environmental Justice demands the cessation of the production of all toxins, hazardous wastes, and radioactive materials, and that all past and current producers be held strictly accountable to the people for detoxification and the containment at the point of production.

07

Environmental Justice demands the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation.

08

Environmental Justice affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environment without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment. It also affirms the right of those who work at home to be free from environmental hazards.

09

Environmental Justice protects the right of victims of environmental injustice to receive full compensation and reparations for damages as well as quality health care.

10

Environmental Justice considers governmental acts of environmental injustice a violation of international law, the Universal Declaration On Human Rights, and the United Nations Convention on Genocide.

11

Environmental Justice must recognize a special legal and natural relationship of Native Peoples to the U.S. government through treaties, agreements, compacts, and covenants affirming sovereignty and self-determination.

12

Environmental Justice affirms the need for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas in balance with nature, honoring the cultural integrity of all our communities, and provided fair access for all to the full range of resources.

13

Environmental Justice calls for the strict enforcement of principles of informed consent, and a halt to the testing of experimental reproductive and medical procedures and vaccinations on people of color.

14

Environmental Justice opposes the destructive operations of multi-national corporations.

15

Environmental Justice opposes military occupation, repression and exploitation of lands, peoples and cultures, and other life forms.

16

Environmental Justice calls for the education of present and future generations which emphasizes social and environmental issues, based on our experience and an appreciation of our diverse cultural perspectives.

17

Environmental Justice requires that we, as individuals, make personal and consumer choices to consume as little of Mother Earth’s resources and to produce as little waste as possible; and make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles to ensure the health of the natural world for present and future generations.

The Proceedings to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit are available from the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, 475 Riverside Dr. Suite 1950, New York, NY 10115.

Another source of information is the Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) at Clark Atlanta University.

This and other environmental justice documents can be downloaded from: www.ejnet.org/ej/

CLIMATE JUSTICE

PRINCIPLES

ACTIVISTS MEET ON GLOBALIZATION

On December 6-8, 1996, forty people of color and European-American representatives met in Jemez, New Mexico, for the “Working Group Meeting on Globalization and Trade.” The Jemez meeting was hosted by the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice with the intention of hammering out common understandings between participants from different cultures, politics and organizations. The following “Jemez Principles” for democratic organizing were adopted by the participants.

01

BE INCLUSIVE

If we hope to achieve just societies that include all people in decision-making and assure that all people have an equitable share of the wealth and the work of this world, then we must work to build that kind of inclusiveness into our own movement in order to develop alternative policies and institutions to the treaties policies under neo-liberalism.

This requires more than tokenism, it cannot be achieved without diversity at the planning table, in staffing, and in coordination. It may delay achievement of other important goals, it will require discussion, hard work, patience, and advance planning. It may involve conflict, but through this conflict, we can learn better ways of working together. It’s about building alternative institutions, movement building, and not compromising out in order to be accepted into the anti-globalization club.

02

EMPHASIS ON BOTTOM-UP ORGANIZING

To succeed, it is important to reach out into new constituencies, and to reach within all levels of leadership and membership base of the organizations that are already involved in our networks. We must be continually building and strengthening a base which provides our credibility, our strategies, mobilizations, leadership development, and the energy for the work we must do daily.

03

LET PEOPLE SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

We must be sure that relevant voices of people directly affected are heard. Ways must be provided for spokespersons to represent and be responsible to the affected constituencies. It is important for organizations to clarify their roles, and who they represent, and to assure accountability within our structures.

04

WORK TOGETHER IN SOLIDARITY AND MUTUALITY

We must be sure that relevant voices of people directly affected are heard. Ways must be provided for spokespersons to represent and be responsible to the affected constituencies. It is important for organizations to clarify their roles, and who they represent, and to assure accountability within our structures.

05

BUILD JUST RELATIONSHIPS AMONG OURSELVES

We need to treat each other with justice and respect, both on an individual and an organizational level, in this country and across borders. Defining and developing “just relationships” will be a process that won’t happen overnight. It must include clarity about decision-making, sharing strategies, and resource distribution. There are clearly many skills necessary to succeed, and we need to determine the ways for those with different skills to coordinate and be accountable to one another.

06

COMMITMENT TO SELF-TRANSFORMATION

We need to treat each other with justice and respect, both on an individual and an organizational level, in this country and across borders. Defining and developing “just relationships” will be a process that won’t happen overnight. It must include clarity about decision-making, sharing strategies, and resource distribution. There are clearly many skills necessary to succeed, and we need to determine the ways for those with different skills to coordinate and be accountable to one another.

As we change societies, we must change from operating on the mode of individualism to community-centeredness. We must “walk our talk.” We must be the values that we say we’re struggling for and we must be justice, be peace, be community.

This and other environmental justice documents can be downloaded from: www.ejnet.org/ej/

DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZING

PRINCIPLES

ACTIVISTS MEET ON GLOBALIZATION

An international coalition of groups gathered in Johannesburg for the Earth Summit has released a set of principles aimed at “putting a human face” on climate change. The Bali Principles of Climate Justice redefine climate change from a human rights and environmental justice perspective. The principles were developed by the coalition — which includes CorpWatch, Third World Network, Oil Watch, the Indigenous Environmental Network, among others — at the final preparatory negotiations for the Earth Summit in Bali in June 2002.

Climate change may very well be the biggest threat facing humanity. Yet, the negotiations to find solutions have so far been mired mostly in the technical arena, and have been derailed by special interest groups such as large oil, coal and utility companies and governments such as the United States. The latest example are the efforts to sideline renewable energy plans at the Johannesburg Summit. For many, the issue of climate is a matter of life and death. The biggest injustice of climate change is that the hardest hit are the least responsible for contributing to the problem. The Bali Principles of Climate Justice seek to broaden the constituency providing leadership on climate change. They do so by linking local community issues to climate change.

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Environmental justice is the belief that everyone, regardless of race or income, has the right to live, work, play, pray, and go to school in a clean and healthy environment.

Environmental racism is placement of low-income or minority communities in proximity of environmentally hazardous or degraded environments, such as toxic waste, pollution, and urban decay.

PRINCIPLES