Systemic racism impacts laws, policies, and institutions, resulting in inequitable outcomes for communities across this nation which are impossible to ignore. These inequities require each of us to take action. As an organization, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation believes we need to confront these inequities and identify the steps we can take as a community to address racial equity and justice in ocean conservation, science, and policymaking.
The health, well-being and sustainability of our ocean and Great Lakes depend on the actions we take now to ensure transformative and durable effects. Achieving bold, lasting change in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes policy will require the experience, expertise, perspectives and values of the communities most affected by environmental inequities. CHOW 2021 is an opportunity to examine how exclusionary practices and systemic racism negatively impact conservation, science, and policy. And, how strengthening justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion will improve the sustainability of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes and the communities that depend on them.
The CHOW 2021 program will explore how people and communities vulnerable to climate change are advancing local, regional, and national resiliency efforts and identify potential strategies to address impact. It will examine the intersection of people and the environment and how we ensure that all communities have the same protection from environmental hazards; and equal access to opportunities to maintain a healthy environment to live, learn, and work. The CHOW 2021 program will also look at the intersection of social justice and ocean and Great Lakes resource management and conservation. Ultimately, we believe the conversations from CHOW 2021 will reveal a set of priorities that can emerge as the core of a policy agenda centered on justice and equity; and we believe participants in this event, led by the communities most impacted by these inequities, can lead efforts to shape and advocate for this ocean justice policy agenda in the weeks and months following CHOW 2021.