“Principles of Environmental Justice,” First National People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit, Washington, DC, 1991.

In the fall of 1991, the United Church of Christ’s Racial Justice Commission convened a large gathering in Washington, DC to focus attention on environmental inequalities and environmental racism. The “First National People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit” included hundreds of representatives from community-based organizations fighting pollution and other environmental threats, as well as people working in government and politics across the country. The meeting particularly emphasized the many ways that low income, communities of color too often bore a disproportionate burden of environmental harms and, at the same time, were systematically excluded from decision-making by public agencies as well as environmental organizations.  

The meeting produced these “Principles of Environmental Justice,” which wove together statements about environmental rights and equitable processes with conceptions of environmental ethics.

What different kinds of justice are referenced in the document? (procedural, cultural, etc) What kinds of environmental rights are articulated? How did the statement intersect with historical developments in indigenous rights, civil rights, environmental politics, and the peace movement? 

A video with highlights from the Summit proceedings is available online here

The conference proceedings are available online here


People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit. Principles of Environmental Justice. Washington, D.C: People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit, 1991.

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