This blog was written by Bob Irvin and John Haydock, American Rivers Board Chair.
In a year in which the impacts of racism and injustice have never been more visible, and the need to address these inequities has never been more acute, American Rivers is releasing our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan. The plan represents a commitment by American Rivers to honestly examine our history and culture and hold ourselves accountable for addressing the inequities and racism that still exist in American society. It will help ensure our staff and board have the understanding, tools and training to serve as more effective allies to people of color and advocates for clean water and healthy rivers nationwide.
The American Rivers staff and board have been developing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan for over a year, thoughtfully and honestly examining our operations, culture and conservation work. We honor the time and effort that has gone into the plan’s creation, and we also know the true work lies ahead – the work that will make American Rivers a more equitable and inclusive, and thus more effective organization. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a cornerstone of our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.
We cannot be complacent about our role or satisfied with business as usual in river conservation. Sadly, like other parts of American society, the conservation movement of which American Rivers is a part has, consciously or not, often marginalized and disenfranchised Black, Latino, Indigenous and other people of color, perpetuating injustice and weakening our effectiveness. We know communities of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change, pollution, flooding and river degradation. They are also more likely to lack access to safe, clean affordable water. We must become allies and architects for dismantling the systems of injustice that continue to sideline the voices of people of color and deny their rights to live and thrive in a safe, healthy environment. Going forward, American Rivers pledges to tackle these systemic failings in all aspects of our work, internally and externally.
Expanding our awareness and understanding, and following the leadership of Black, Latino and Indigenous communities will help us secure more holistic and durable solutions for rivers and clean water. Honoring the power and vital contributions of these communities is key to strengthening the river conservation movement as a whole.
As our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan states, “The beauty of rivers is that they connect people and nature everywhere. That is why ‘Rivers Connect Us’ is more than just a tagline — it is the conviction on which we base everything we do.”
We are listening and learning. We invite you to join us in this important work and we welcome your questions and feedback – please reach out at DEI@americanrivers.org.
Read the full plan here.