Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Our Commitment to DEI

Our Team

At the Center for Environmental Peacebuilding, we seek to embed racial, gender, and economic justice lenses in our work. Our organizational approach is based on the principles of just transition, a framework that seeks to address climate change and build economic and political power by shifting from extractive to regenerative economies and reparations that shift power relationships.

As we push forward towards our goals, we do so with the understanding that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is central to our collective growth and the realization of our vision for a more just, sustainable world, where human security and climate change are tackled concurrently. At the Center for Environmental Peacebuilding, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is more than a written commitment: It is embedded in concrete practices, procedures, and systems.

This article highlights the concrete steps we take to embed DEI principles in our organizational practices.

Mission, Vision, and Values

The Center for Environmental Peacebuilding is, first, an equal opportunity employer: committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, personal appearance, family responsibilities, matriculation or any other characteristic. Our written materials, policies, and guidelines work to ensure that we achieve this goal and celebrate diversity and inclusion not just theoretically, but in every aspect of our activities.

  • In particular, our documented principles include the following:
    We have the responsibility to use the tools we have to understand and rectify systemic injustices.
  • Data is a non-neutral tool in shedding light on these injustices, so representation is imperative to our collective liberation.
  • Local communities know what changes are needed, so we follow their lead in building the connection and investment needed to accomplish them.

Policies & Procedures

Carla Melaco, currently transitioning to co-Executive Director, previously also served explicitly as our DEI lead, during which time she developed DEI initiatives within the organization. Her work built on that of our previous development director and internship program lead, Kayla Fennell. Thanks to their work, we were able to further develop and elaborate our Employee and Board Member Handbooks to ensure that they embody and protect our principles in practice.

These policies include ones that:

  • Explicitly guard against racism, ableism, and classism
  • Support practices that are inclusive of neurodivergent individuals
  • Ensure that all team members, including interns, are paid a living wage
  • Account for practicing norms and celebrating holidays across different cultural and national contexts
  • Create a positive workplace environment that is accountable to principles of social and racial justice
  • Encourage restorative justice practices
  • Create leave policies that are sensitive to mental health and experiences of trauma

Leadership & Organizational Structure

Critical to our mission is the representation and leadership of those who have experienced forms of marginalization, those who understand the ways it manifests, and those who have encountered the systems of power that underpin it, both globally and within the specific contexts we are working in.

We believe that representation within our team is essential to ensuring our continued growth in this area, so we are always especially pleased to work with those who contribute diverse identities, experience-rooted empathy and sensitivities to our team. As an inclusive organization, the CEPB prides itself on its diverse leadership team. Our team member bios are available here.

Currently, our organization operates with a flat structure to ensure collaboration of ideas and dismantle traditional hierarchies in leadership. Concretely, our flat structure means that project leads work with autonomy over project scope, it means that all employees are eligible to sit on our board, and it means that we do not maintain traditional supervisor-supervisee hierarchies. Instead, we collaborate across teams to hold each other accountable.

Theory of Change & Organizational Approach

Our theory of change recognizes that communities and regions who least contribute to climate change (namely, indigenous populations and the Global South), are most devastated by the effects of climate change.

In terms of community engagement, the Center for Environmental Peacebuilding prioritizes work with individuals and organizations who are underrepresented at the government level, hence our focus on supporting the growth of local leadership with a bottom-up approach. In particular, our current project report in the Lake Chad region has identified numerous opportunities for supporting initiatives that specifically foster the inclusion and leadership of women and girls in climate adaptation and mitigation actions.

Board Membership

Right now, our commitment to DEI manifests concretely in our board member search. We seek board members with local knowledge in Brazil and/or the Lake Chad region; those with experience in Land Rights, particularly as it pertains to indigenous groups; and those who are demographically underrepresented in non-profit boards (namely, BIPOC, queer, women, and young people).  

One growth area that we have identified is raising money to offer stipends to board members. Stipends would recognize the time, effort, and expertise of board members and their contributions. Though we are still working to provide these stipends, we recognize that doing so is crucial to furthering accessibility.

Should you know someone who you believe would be interested in joining us in a board or advisory role, please email Amber at amber@cepb.ngo.

We hope that this article serves both to archive our own DEI practices to build upon, and also to provide inspiration to other organizations and nonprofits who seek to sustain a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment for their staff, partners, and engaged individuals.