Equity and Social Justice

To create a more sustainable future it is essential that ecological systems, economic systems and social systems are built on a foundation of equity.

The definition we use for these integrated systems are from the Environmental and Sustainability Education Standards developed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction…


“Ecological systems encompass the living (biotic) and the non-living (abiotic) components of an environment. Social systems refer to human interactions, culture, and politics, with an emphasis on equity, justice and fairness. Economic systems refer to the production, distribution, and consumption of resources including attention to economic equity and the fair distribution of opportunities and impacts.”

Policy and Planning Frameworks that Guide Our Work

On Earth Day in 2015, Mayor Ed Murray launched Seattle's Equity & Environment Initiative (EEI), a partnership of the City, the community, several City departments, and private foundations to deepen Seattle's commitment to race and social justice in environmental work by creating an Environmental Action Agenda centered on equity.

In 2008, County Executive Ron Sims launched the Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) Initiative. Executive Dow Constantine and the Council further promoted the initiative in 2010 with an ordinance that codified the “fair and just” principle and named 14 Determinants of Equity.  Identifying key indicators, aligning with community partners, and incorporating statistical approaches to develop a community-scale equity baseline are vital to understanding regional progress and prioritizing action. 
The path to sustainability is different for every community – but the common elements are a healthy environment, a strong economy and the well-being of the people living in the community. STAR stands for Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating. It is the nation’s first voluntary, self-reporting system for measuring progress on sustainable community conditions, created by and for local governments. The STAR program is like a report card for communities.
Environmental justice means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal state, local, and tribal programs and policies. Environmental justice promotes environmental and public health protection within the context of sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which will guide policy and funding for all UN members nations through the year 2030,beginning with a historic pledge to end poverty. The concept was born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in 2012. The objective was to produce a set of universally applicable goals that balances the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social, and economic.