NAELS 2014: Environmental Justice, Where Are We Now?

Thanks to all those who joined the Harvard Environmental Law Society for the 26th Annual National Association of Environmental Law Societies Conference on March 28–29, 2014! For those who were unable to attend, check out the video recordings of some of the speakers and panels at the conference below.

Follow up to the conference: Here are some additional resources regarding environmental justice.

Environmental Justice Milestones

The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice, the theme of the conference was Environmental Justice: Where Are We Now?” The conference focused on three themes:

  • Progress on the goals of environmental justice,
  • The social justice aspects of today’s national and international environmental movements, and
  • Strategies to ensure that environmental justice is a priority in future environmental work.

The conference provided a unique opportunity for students to engage with one another and with leading experts in an exciting, inter-disciplinary field. The multi-faceted nature of environmental justice provided a springboard for discussing climate change, water quality, food policy, and other pressing environmental challenges. Ensuring fair treatment under environmental law and policies for members of all communities is an integral part of the struggle to improve and maintain our environment.

Dr. Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice,” gave the opening address on Friday afternoon on the Origins of the Environmental Justice Movement and Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson delivered the Keynote Address on Friday evening. Additional conference highlights included:

  • A plenary address by Environmental Justice activist Mela Bush on the the Importance of Community Organizing;
  • An interview with Professor Gerald Torres, who, as counsel to the Attorney General, drafted the President’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice;
  • An event honoring the life and career of Luke Cole, HLS Class of 1989, and co-founder of the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment; and
  • Breakout sessions with the Environmental Protection Agency on how to move forward on this pressing topic.

Panel discussions explored legal strategies to achieve environmental justice, food justice in Massachusetts, urban environmental justice, access to clean energy, rural environmental justice, and alternative approaches to meeting environmental justice goals. Check out the conference program for more details.

Any inquiries about the conference be directed to the Harvard Environmental Law Society at