Environmental Justice Efforts Increase in Scope

By Paul R. Pace

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, or national origin.

firefighter surrounded by a wildfire

Social workers play a key role in supporting polices and to advocate for environmental justice for their clients and communities.

To further these efforts, NASW participated in the Adelphi University School of Social Work Conference on Environmental Justice.

NASW Senior Practice Associate Carrie Dorn shared with attendees how NASW has been addressing climate change and environmental justice, including NASW’s policy statement on environmental justice in “Social Work Speaks.”

“We have also been providing guidance in how social workers can integrate these topics into their practice when addressing individuals and communities,” Dorn said. “We are working on environmental policy and advocacy efforts with our coalitions to advance policies that reduce environmental threats to the people we serve.”

Coalitions include the American Psychological Association, the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and other sister social work organizations doing similar work.

Dorn said presenters shared how social work faculty are teaching environmental justice to social work students and how more and more social workers are integrating the natural environment into their own self-care and their professional practices to promote health, including offering their clients outdoor therapy sessions. In addition, hospitals and organizations are adopting more environmentally friendly practices as well.

On a related note, NASW was a co-sponsor of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health 2021 Annual Meeting, which took place in May 2021.