Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Sustainability

Equity is a core component of sustainability

UCLA pursues equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) because it is a central component of creating a more just and sustainable world. Sustainability is often defined as the intersection between the “Three E’s”: equity, environment, and economy. A truly sustainable future involves meaningful participation of all members of a community. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and low-socioeconomic status communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental harm. However, due to systemic injustices these communities are less likely to be in positions of power to create structural change or advocate for themselves. Environmentalism in the United States has a history of exclusion and racism which needs to be intentionally dismantled. 

With this in mind, we hope to create a lasting system that honors all members of the community, including humans, animals, and plants, and regenerates natural systems while being fiscally responsible and shifting away from an extractive economy. We attempt to meaningfully integrate social justice into all of our sustainability efforts, as these are deeply intersecting fields.

UCLA is actively taking steps toward advancing EDI efforts across sustainability

Many people often think of sustainability as just concerned about the environment, and that is often the easiest area of sustainability to track and measure, such as gallons of water saved or carbon emissions reduced. But sustainability encompasses far more than that. While there is still much to be done, steps have been taken to better integrate social justice and equity into our work. Here is some of the work that is being done across sustainability at UCLA.

Programming

In our programming and events, UCLA Housing and Residential Life aim to meaningfully integrate social justice topics. Ongoing programs related to EDI efforts include the annual Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience retreat, Sustainival, and Leadership in Sustainability workshops.

Social Media

Sustainability social media channels strive to cover topics relevant to social justice and all the intersections of sustainability. Past topics have included sustainable menstruation, queer ecology, and conservation cultura. If you’re interested in learning more, please follow us @sustainucla and @zerowasteucla on Instagram.

Staff Training

All sustainability training given by staff includes the definition of sustainability and demonstrates the connections between social justice and sustainability. We have also conducted in-depth training on environmental justice, the impacts of the fashion industry on labor rights, and waste impacts on BIPOC communities, among others.

Trademarks and Licensing

The Trademarks and Licensing team within ASUCLA leads among peer institutions in using social sustainability criteria to select and retain companies that seek permission to use the name and identifying marks of the University on merchandise to be sold. Trademarks and Licensing also requires companies to actively disclose their supply chain sources, agree to a code of conduct that protects workplace conditions and human rights to an international standard, and to participate in training. We measure supplier diversity of ownership and of workplace practices to ensure that diversity and inclusion is practiced operationally in each business.

Health System

UCLA Health has developed an EDI Plan with 5 objectives on addressing and advancing EDI efforts across the entire health system. These include more opportunities and training for staff, supportive workplace environments, equitable patient care, and expanded community engagement. For more details please see the UCLA Health EDI Plan.

Food Recovery

Sustainability at UCLA collaborates with the efforts of Basic Needs at the Community Programs Office through programs like Bruin Dine to reduce food insecurity and keep food out of landfills.

Partnership with Human-I-T

To achieve the highest and best use of materials, UCLA has partnered with human-I-T to refurbish electronic waste rather than sending the materials to be recycled. The refurbished products will be provided to low-income individuals, under-served communities, and nonprofits in need of technology, internet, and digital training. On-campus departments can submit an e-waste request through the Recycling Request Form. The campus community can donate personal electronics through their website.

Partnership with One World

UCLA Housing and Residential Life have partnered with One World to provide clothing and shoe recycling bins on the Hill. The Economic Crisis Response Team at UCLA receives funding for every pound of material donated to these bins.

Inaugural Climate Justice Forum organized by the Environmentalists of Color Collective

There is always more we can do

The sustainability staff at UCLA recognizes there is a lot more work to be done. To continue to advance our EDI efforts we are doing the following: 

  • Biweekly EDI x Sustainability Meetings – members of the UCLA sustainability team are meeting every other week to plan our long-term strategy to better integrate social justice into our sustainability work with short term, medium term, and long term goals. 
  • Sustainability Master Plan – UCLA Sustainability is currently engaged in a master planning effort to integrate all aspects of sustainability across campus. EDI will have a specific section of the plan and we strive to integrate EDI principles into the operational sections such as zero waste and climate action. 
  • Student Sustainability Leadership Council – UCLA Sustainability hosts meetings twice a quarter with student leaders of sustainability organizations on campus to collaborate, share ideas, and solicit feedback on our work. EDI principles will be emphasized in discussions with the Student Sustainability Leadership Council.

We welcome any and all feedback on our efforts and how we can improve. If you would like to leave us feedback and help us better understand EDI at UCLA, please fill out the form below. Language is always evolving and we will update our page as terms change.


Resources

Many others on campus are also doing work in this area. Here are a few groups that are currently working in the intersection of EDI and sustainability.

Below are resources for learning more about EDI and sustainability.