It is proven that solutions come from people from of all different backgrounds and experiences working together. What greater problem to tackle than our changing climate? UB Sustainability is committed to adding to the diversity of the environmental justice movement by fostering a community of inclusion in its office and on our campus.
In January, 2020, the UB Sustainability team adopted a Diversity and Inclusion plan for our work. We recognize that the intersectionality of social and environmental issues is complex, and there is much work to do. Our department welcomes feedback on how to become better allies and supporters of inclusion in the sustainability movement.
UB Sustainability has made it a priority to increase the representation of staff, faculty and students in local educational programs by visiting K-12 schools in the WNY. By delivering programing that is exciting and focuses on solutions to environmental issues to underrepresented young people, it is our hope and intent to expand the diversity in the sustainability field and inspire future leaders in the movement.
Our team is committed to lifting up the leaders on our campus and in our community whose voices haven't always had the opportunity to be heard. We take steps to change the culture on our campus at all of our events by small, incremental additions like acknowledging the native land our university sits on and location of the closest gender neutral bathrooms to our events.
When we host a panel or bring in speakers, we have set goals for at least 30% representation of peoples from underrepresented communities.
Starting in 2020, our office has begun to track these numbers and will produce an annual memo highlighting our successes and where we still have room to improve. Check back at the end of the Spring semester in May 2020 for our first memo.
It is important that the entire UB Sustainability team values diversity and works to foster a space that is inclusive to everyone in our community. We have committed to have at least one staff member take the Safe Zone and Diversity Zone training offered from the Intercultural and Diversity Center (IDC). All of our Student Assistants are required to take one workshop as well from the IDC.
We have bolstered our recruitment practices to ensure we are reaching communitites of people that have traditionally been left out of our field. These practices can be found in the document below.
Environmental Justice is the intersection between racial equity and traditional environmentalism. Climate Justice is the movement to address the unequal impacts of our changing climate on the most marginalized individuals on our planet. Anti-racism asks people to look at society in a way that recognizes that it was historically built on white supremacy and to take action on dismantling those privileges to strive towards equity.
In order to make systemic change, sustainability professionals need to view their work through the lens of racial equity. Check out the resources curated to address these issues below.
Below is an open-sourced document of a collection of racial equity and social justice resources was initiated by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the AASHE Advisory Council to highlight the vital work of the many incredible people and organizations who have been doing powerful work to bring attention to issues of racial and social justice.
Underrepresented groups are groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination and/or have been marginalized and are currently underrepresented. These groups may include, but are not limited to, racial, ethnic and immigrant populations; people with disabilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals; adult learners; veterans; and individuals from different religious groups and economic backgrounds.
Underrepresentation may be revealed by an imbalance in the representation of different groups in common pursuits such as education, jobs, housing, etc., resulting in marginalization for some groups and individuals and not for others, relative to the number of individuals who are members of the population involved.
Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. These three individuals are names on a long list of Black lives that have ended too soon. They will never have the opportunity to run through nature, save lives, or breathe fresh air again.
Black Lives Matter.
Black lives are the ones who are disproportionately impacted by unclean water and air. Black lives have less access to nutritional food. Black lives have a higher chance of living on toxic land. And Black lives are also the ones most directly affected by the consequences of a changing climate.
Sustainable solutions come from people from of all different backgrounds and experiences working together. We need all voices heard and every person to engage and tackle the global challenges we face. It can’t happen when an entire group of people are justifiably afraid to vocalize their views on changing our world, let alone simply taking a walk outside for fear of losing their lives.
Our sustainability movement needs to do a better job of advancing inclusion. Dorceta E. Taylor, professor at the University of Michigan, studied the breakdown of diversity in the environmental field. People of color represent 36% of the US population, but only make up 12.4% of staff in environmental non-profit organizations, 15.5% of environmental government agencies, and 12% of environmental foundations. If we truly believe in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and creating a future that values all, we must do better.
That is why, in January 2020, UB Sustainability adopted a departmental diversity and inclusion plan. It details how we will attract, hire, and retain employees that reflect the composition of our campus. We have set targets for our events that will lift up the talent and knowledge of diverse faculty and staff here at UB. We know that breaking the status quo of systemic racism requires constant self-improvement and awareness. UB Sustainability staff will take every opportunity to better themselves at diversity and inclusion trainings and workshops so that we are better equipped to talk about the injustices faced by people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. We also plan for this process to be transparent by posting a semester report on our website summarizing our inclusive initiatives.
We want to hear from our campus of how we can improve this important work. Please feel free to send us constructive ideas on programs and policies we can facilitate and implement to make sustainability an inclusive and diverse movement.
We are committed to creating an anti-racist workplace and university for our colleagues and students. Hatred and bigotry have no place in this work and in our world.
Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Their names and others must be said again. They are, and will forever be, the change agents the world needs for a long overdue awaking.
The UB Sustainability Team