In May 2023, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay launched its 2023-2028 Strategic Plan (an overview of the structure and guiding principles can be found in this June 7th blog post). The 5+ year roadmap for this Plan furthers the efforts within our four program areas: Agriculture, Forests, Green Infrastructure, and Stewardship and Engagement. The Strategic Plan also serves as a recommitment by the organization to prioritizing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) in our policies, strategic efforts, and program delivery.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is 64,000 square miles and home to many diverse communities. We recognize the importance and value of incorporating the needs and perspectives of the varied communities across the seven jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. By incorporating DEIJ values into our collective restoration efforts, we will see more effective, creative, expansive, and sustained environmental impacts that benefit all members of the watershed.

Our “why” is simple: because it takes every community to realize a resilient watershed – and environmental change is more than just what we see. It is the air we breathe, the behaviors we perform, the historic systems we break down.

There is a popular quote in the water world that goes “we all live downstream,” meaning we are all impacted by pollution that occurs upstream from our waters. In a broader sense, this phrase is used to emphasize that we are affected by not only our own pollution but what happens around us. I would like to take this meaning one step further- we are also impacted by pollution and policy that occurred before us.

The 2023 – 2028 Strategic Plan signals our strong commitment towards DEIJ practices within our policies, strategic efforts, and program delivery. Among the 20+ specific Strategies in the plan (“how” we’re going to meet our 5 overarching Strategic Goals), half have a direct connection to further DEIJ impacts. Examples include:

1. c) Prioritize accessibility, efficiency, and flexibility in our programming, especially for communities historically under-represented in environmental conservation efforts.

3. n) Uplift stories of partners and stakeholders through their own words, to provide representative examples of how restoration projects can successfully unfold in different communities.

5. s) Center equity, inclusion, accountability, and transparency in decision making, policies, procedures, and planning efforts across the organization, including in administrative, fundraising, communications, and program functions.

Ultimately, these high level Strategies are explored through various shorter term actions (or tactics) we employ, beginning with embedding DEIJ principles into our internal practices. Complimentary activities within the Program teams and staff DEIJ committee workplans will ensure progress is made towards our goals of Expanding the Restoration of Lands & Waters, Building the Capacity of Partner Organizations, Connecting More People to the Environment, Sustaining Funding for Programmatic Impact, and Strengthening Internal Infrastructure. Our full staff participates in DEIJ staff training sessions, consultations and facilitated discussions, upskilling the whole organization to increase everyone’s confidence and capability toward inclusive activities.

Additionally, the 2023 – 2028 Strategic Plan identifies targets for our key indicators. Two of the main DEIJ targets incorporated in the plan are:

  • A 10% increase in conservation practices taking place in historically under-resourced or disadvantaged communities
  • A 10% increase in the percentage of internal and external stakeholders identifying as either non-white and/or speaking English as a second language

In fall – winter of 2023, Alliance staff will compile data and resources to establish a baseline for the current impacts within these target areas. Each of these targets will help increase equitable access and community centered approaches to green solutions and resilient communities.

DEIJ efforts are one of many ways to help breakdown persisting inequalities and build organizations and communities that thrive together. To learn more about the Alliances DEIJ strategies and additional metric targets, check out the full 2023 – 2028 Strategic Plan!