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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

September 30, 2021

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

In order to be part of a broad and powerful environmental and climate movement, we understand the utmost importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice—both in how we work internally and how we support communities externally. We’re committed to following through to make sure our actions live up to our goals.

APPROACHING DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION, AND JUSTICE WITH HUMILITY AND AMBITION

NRDC’s Midwest outreach manager Gina Ramirez gives a high five after speaking at a hearing on the Affordable Clean Energy Rule in Chicago. (Alyssa Schukar for NRDC)
NRDC litigation assistants Jae-Min Yoo (left) and Paula Tartell march at the Global Climate Strike in New York City in 2019. (Rick Gershon for NRDC)
Troy Riddle, NRDC’s inaugural chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer in New York City. (Ben Grieme for NRDC)

Here at NRDC, we recognize we need to do more to foster a broad, equitable and diverse environmental movement. The movement this moment demands.

– Manish Bapna, President and CEO of NRDC

NRDC believes in an environmental movement that, at its core, seeks justice. We know that the climate and environmental crises fall hardest on groups that are already marginalized, including Black, brown, Indigenous, disabled and LGBTQIA+ communities and women. They also affect those vulnerable communities and countries around the world who have done the least to create these problems in the first place.

To shape policy and create transformational change, NRDC is dedicated to supporting the broad, equitable, and diverse environmental movement we need. We work in partnership with—and in service of—our communities to stop industrial polluters from contaminating the air, to fight for safe drinking water, and to help those most at risk shore up their defenses against climate impacts. We’re committed to changing our practices in how we do things—both inside the organization and outside, with our partners and frontline communities.

AN ORGANIZATION IS ONLY AS STRONG AS ITS PEOPLE

NRDC staff and supporters at the 2017 People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. (Bobby Bruderle for NRDC)
NRDC senior attorney Giulia Good Stefani supports the long-standing leadership of Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific Northwest to take down dams that are impairing river water quality and impeding fish passage. (Josué Rivas for NRDC)

Our goal is to create an organization in which space exists to support, nurture, and grow the talent within the organization. If we help people transform, we can transform the ways we work, and the work that we do.

– Troy Riddle, Chief DEI Officer

Here are the ways that NRDC has started changing how we work:

  • Established the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Conducted mandatory DEI workshops for all staff to build a shared understanding of and vocabulary around DEI.
  • Started intentionally recruiting and cultivating new Board members from BIPOC backgrounds and with expertise in environmental justice.
  • Began developing an organization-wide strategic plan for DEI and a DEI learning strategy for all staff.
  • Began the process to improve hiring, retention, and promotion processes to be more equitable and inclusive, including building partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.
  • Began working with staff to develop Employee Resources Groups to support staff from marginalized backgrounds.

A STRONG, EFFECTIVE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT MUST CENTER EQUITY AND JUSTICE

NRDC Chief Equity & Justice Officer, Melissa Lin Perrella, works with communities to demand cleaner air, including around the heavily polluting Port of Los Angeles (background). (Ann Johansson for NRDC)
A young girl rides a scooter in Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, which is located near a Rio Tinto refinery and the Port of Los Angeles. (Ann Johansson for NRDC)

Social change happens one relationship at a time, and to build collective power, we must get better at giving and learning.

– Melissa Lin Perrella, Chief Equity & Justice Officer

As a historically majority-white organization, NRDC recognizes that we must do more to actively incorporate anti-racism, equity, and justice throughout our work. We must seek to drive social change that improves people’s lives, communities, and environments by not only repairing existing inequities but also recognizing the legacies of harm that have burdened communities of color and low-income communities.

These are just some initiatives we are undertaking to become better partners to frontline communities:

  • We launched our Equity Initiative to systematically embed equity into all of NRDC’s substantive advocacy work, which led to the creation of the Equity Tool, a guide to center equity in our work.
  • We established our Environment, Equity, and Justice Center to help integrate equity into NRDC’s advocacy and partnerships and enhance NRDC’s ability to advance community-driven solutions in partnership with frontline communities.
  • We established a new Science Office that will exemplify equity-centered science practiced in partnership withand in service ofcommunities and the environment; use science and analysis to embed equity in our work; and partake in community-engaged research, data science, analysis, and innovation.
  • We are dedicating at least $16 million of NRDC’s Bezos Earth Fund grant to partners, including funds dedicated to BIPOC-led and BIPOC-centered groups. This includes supporting pooled grassroots funds that will build the field, and help less resourced organizations to achieve our jointly held goals. We are creating the committees, accounting systems, and principles to guide that institutional giving.
  • We committed more than $3.3 million in grants to four environmental networks over two years, including pooled funds at the grassroots level, with more support of additional partners at the project level.

Visit the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice page at NRDC.org for more information on all our ongoing efforts.

To learn more about NRDC and our mission, visit NRDC.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.