The nation is finally beginning to grapple with the widespread disparities in public health, economic opportunity, and community well-being across race and class that stem from longstanding systems of oppression and injustice. As systems thinkers, CPR's Board, staff, and Member Scholars have devoted considerable time to researching and understanding the roots of these inequities, considering the disproportionate impacts on frontline communities, and advocating for just policy reform.
Our Regulation as Social Justice project is an example. It recognizes that EPA, OSHA, and other "protector agencies" have a vital role to play in preventing harm to people and the environment through their statutory authority to adopt and enforce regulations. As they exercise that authority, agencies also have the capacity, indeed the moral obligation, to redress environmental and public health injustices by prioritizing the needs of overburdened communities in the development of their regulatory agenda and enforcement policies.
In this project and in all our work, the analysis and commentary that our staff and Member Scholars produce is infused with values of justice and equity. But over the past year-plus, we have been engaged in a thoughtful self-critique about how we do our work and whose voices and interests are a part of it. Last week, we took an important step toward realizing our potential. Our Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt the following statement on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, developed in partnership with our staff:
Pursuing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) is a moral imperative for CPR. Inadequate regulatory safeguards and disparities in implementation and enforcement of public interest laws disproportionately harm vulnerable communities, especially people of color and low-wealth families. We recognize these injustices are born of longstanding systemic inequalities, and are forms of continued systemic oppression.
CPR is committed to working with communities that experience disproportionate harm from existing and emerging environmental hazards, from climate change to workplace safety risks. Their lived experiences, CPR’s analytical capabilities, and our collaborative advocacy can enhance federal, state, and local government responses to those hazards. Since the government has failed to provide the necessary access, information, and resources for these communities to influence policy development and legal implementation, CPR is also committed to identifying legal reforms that enhance their influence in government and access to the courts.
By incorporating JEDI principles into CPR’s work, we will position ourselves to most effectively and thoughtfully protect and strengthen health, safety, and environmental safeguards and empower the people whose lives depend on them.
This statement embodies our overall commitment to JEDI values, and we are working to implement that commitment with more specific goals and activities addressing how we collaborate internally, how we work with partner organizations, what projects we take on, and more.
As we work to contribute to the ongoing American enterprise of building a just and equitable society, we are mindful of the monumental achievements of the many who have gone before us – men and women upon whose shoulders we have the good fortune to stand today. We are grateful, too, to the many people and organizations who have done inspirational and pathbreaking work in the field of JEDI-focused organizational change.
As we go forward, we invite all to let us know how we're doing and to hold us accountable.