“Sustainability” is a buzzword these days. But the radical economic and environmental changes needed seem out of reach. For E / J Solutions, environmental justice (“EJ”) is the pathway to sustainability. At its core, environmental justice is a democratic and community-oriented approach to the environment. Several of EJ’s key principles can illuminate the way forward to a more sustainable environment and economy.
A Seat at the Table
Those who are most burdened by a policy proposal should be considered its most vital stakeholders. Decision-makers need to invite the affected community to provide input on proposals as early as possible during the process. Even the most informed policymaker has blind spots. Yet, when policymakers are not knowledgeable about the real issues marginalized communities face, they aren’t able to use their policy-making agenda to address those issues.
From the Ground Up
When grassroots community advocates lack resources or professional experience, they often may not be able to advocate effectively. E / J Solutions works with both community members and policymakers to shape a shared long-term vision and a framework for achieving it. Too often, lawyers and other professionals employ a top-down approach to solving problems and seek answers only from other professionals. Yet, answers derived from modeling and algorithms don’t always provide adequate information. Finding the whole story is messy and complicated, yet it is the only lens through which equitable policy can be discovered.
Not on Planet Earth
The environmental justice movement is closely aligned with the Precautionary Principle, which advises restraint and careful deliberation before taking any action that may result in harm to humans or to nature. E / J Solutions believes that authentically engaging the communities who bear the most harm can inform how initiatives are shaped and help avoid unforeseen negative impacts. Streamlining the dialogue between decision-makers and disadvantaged communities can lead to effective policies with fewer unintended consequences.