No longer only a subject of activism and academia, environmental justice (EJ) has made its way to the White House, legislatures, and even board rooms. As discussed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, the pursuit of EJ is not new. And right now, states and federal agencies are working to advance EJ through policy, regulation, and enforcement. On Oct. 1, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its draft Strategic Plan 2022-2026 for public comment. The EPA declares an imperative for the agency to embed EJ and civil rights into its core mission and day-to-day work. National and regional offices within the EPA are directed to develop plans to achieve specific EJ goals and can expect accountability for performance against those goals. Other federal agency plans are required by President Joe Biden’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14008.
Many companies are implementing EJ strategies to confront this rising tide proactively. Strategic EJ implementation can yield real benefits and complement investments in Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) objectives. Businesses that hesitate to incorporate EJ principles into their corporate sustainability strategies open themselves up to stakeholder (e.g., regulatory, community, employee) scrutiny. This final Part 3 article presents a business case for EJ and describes how businesses can chart the course for EJ through corporate sustainability.