The Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative was founded in 2001 shortly after thousands of people from around the world gathered in The Hague, Germany for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6). During COP6, civil society groups coordinated the first Climate Justice summit as an official alternative forum to the COP6. Grassroots leaders shared stories of the impact of Climate Change and offered community based solutions for adaptation and mitigation. Several conference participants from the United States were inspired by the emerging global call for Climate Justice and saw the real need to develop a domestic counterpart. In April 2001, these participants founded The Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative as a project of Redefining Progress, a California based Environmental Policy organization.
DSCEJ Founding Director, Dr. Beverly Wright was a part of this group and was instrumental in spearheading the formation of the EJCC along with Dr. Robert Bullard, currently the Dean of the Barbara Jordan, Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. Dr. Bullard is considered the “father” of the Environmental Justice Movement. Other Environmental Justice giants such as Dr. Bunyan Bryant of the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources served on the original Steering Committee for EJCC along with Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network; Felicia Davis, with the Black Leadership Forum; Wahleah Johns, Black Mesa Water Coalition; Cecil D. Corbin Mark, Deputy Director of We Act For Environmental Justice; Genaro Rendon, Southwest Workers Union; Jenice View, Just Transition Alliance; Sarah Swanson, Univ. of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Richard Moore, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice; Jihan Gearon, Indigenous Environmental Network; Jill Johnston, Southwest Workers Union ; and Y. Armando Nieto, of Redefining Progress. As the EJCC evolved and continued to emerge as a one of the leading youth oriented United States voices for justice and equity in domestic and international Climate Change conversations, the task of overseeing the EJCC came to the Deep South Center in 2010 after several years with Redefining Progress one of the nation’s leading public policy think tanks operating out of Oakland, CA; and then the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) Public Charity based in San Francisco, CA. During the DSCEJ’s tenure as, the EJCC has continued its mission to educate and to activate the people of North America towards the creation and implementation of just climate policies in both domestic and international contexts.