By Briana Yancy
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) enhance how estuarine and coastal restoration is practiced. Centering the needs and voice of systemically excluded people, preserving diverse cultural heritage, and meaningfully engaging entire communities increases the scale and impact of conservation efforts which leads to a healthier coastal environment for all.
Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) solidified its commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) by updating its strategic plan to include a new core pillar explicitly focused on the need to change and expand how estuary and coastal conservation is practiced. In addition, RAE has developed a DEIJ statement and is ready to release it.
RAE – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Statement
As a national leader in coastal conservation for over 25 years, Restore America’s Estuaries has helped to move the needle on impactful coastal and estuarine restoration projects. However, we also recognize and acknowledge the systemic inequities facing past and present marine, coastal, and estuarine project implementation, policy formation, and grant distribution. We believe that we can leverage our national reach to help address these injustices by more intentionally integrating diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice throughout our work in coastal restoration and preservation. We hope to effect lasting systemic change and equitably distribute the benefits of conservation across all communities.
With the release of the statement, RAE confirms our commitment to DEIJ and we will:
- continue to expand the reach and scope of RAE’s webinars and actively work to invite diverse and emerging leaders in coastal and estuarine science, policy, and projects
- increase outreach to smaller conservation organizations
- continue to publicize DEIJ efforts within coastal conservation throughout RAE’s Newsletter and Social Media platforms
- continue to expand the reach of DEIJ at RAE through the intentional incorporation of equity principles throughout other projects, committees, and campaigns
- ensure that future RAE staff training and onboarding includes implicit bias and environmental justice components and DEIJ coursework to promote a more inclusive and equitable workplace
- encourage RAE staff to engage in diversity and equity issues within coastal conservation by supporting participation in workshops, conferences, webinars, and other acts of engagement within DEIJ
- be dedicated to the successful realization of the Inclusive Coasts Initiative workshops for grantmakers and project implementers
- publish all findings and resources from the workshops to our audience via our website and social networking platforms, free of charge
- expand reach by translating one-page summaries of findings post-workshop
- increase efforts to diversify RAE Staff by intentionally recruiting and retaining Staff, Consultants, Fellows, and Interns with varied skills, abilities, experiences, and backgrounds.
It is important to partner statements with action. Therefore, the release of this statement coincides with RAE’s efforts to improve access and promote inclusivity in grant funding and project implementation through the Inclusive Coasts Initiative.
Other RAE DEIJ efforts since the development of this statement include:
- 2021 – Updated internal equity definitions to include gender identity. “In all RAE policies or procedures and their application, RAE is prohibited from discriminating race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, or disability.”
- 2021 – Hosted a Summer Environmental Justice Fellow through the Environmental Fellows Program, which seeks to diversify the environmental field by connecting historically underrepresented students to work opportunities in environmental non-profits and governments sectors
- 2021 – Created a scholarship fund to increase access to the Living Shorelines Tech Transfer Workshop (supported by the Island Foundation)
The DEIJ statement will live here on our website and as RAE learns and grows in this realm of work, the statement will also be updated to reflect that growth. Thank you to the staff at RAE for their thoughtful engagement with the DEIJ statement. We look forward to tracking our progress.
Briana Yancy is the Inclusive Coasts Fellow for Restore America’s Estuaries. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and has a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology from Miami University (OH).