The Freshwater Trust’s Equity Statement

Delivering environmental outcomes that secure a resilient freshwater future will require changes to our economy. We acknowledge that the current structure of the economy is connected to and built upon systemic inequities. We recognize that rivers cannot be restored without focusing on and integrating people—and the impacts our work will have on local communities—into our decision making and solutions. We realize that our programs have indirect, positive impacts on downstream users, but that when optimizing programs, we must also consider direct Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) impacts.

We acknowledge that fixing freshwater ecosystems and improving water quality is inextricably linked to environmental justice, a movement that exists because environmental pollution disproportionately affects low-income people and often specifically Black, Indigenous and people of color.

We have long partnered with agricultural communities and tribes to implement best management practices and provide economic incentives to bring about quantified benefits. We have hired local contractors and businesses as partners in our work to improve native fish habitat. We have received grants that help us learn from marginalized communities and help them to disseminate information about freshwater resources in the state of California. While these are examples of the ways in which our mission has overlapped with people, TFT recognizes the internal and strategic work that needs to continue to ensure equity of multiple forms remains in the heart of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

To this end, we have developed a set of commitments and opportunities to help us formally progress in our equity journey to recognize and work to correct systemic racism in our society. Recognizing the abundance of work and learning we have to do to support that effort, we are also committed to revisiting this statement and updating it on a frequent basis. 

While we cannot address hundreds of years of inequitable systems, we can affirmatively commit to: 

  • Actively engaging our work with a equity lens – we will further anti-racist and anti- inequitable outcomes through our work; 
  • Focusing on disparate impacts, rather than intentions, and recognizing that if we identify a disparate impact, we will confront it regardless of intent; 
  • Respectfully calling out bias and responding from a place of action, learning and growth; and 
  • Recognizing that talking about this openly/candidly is something that we have an obligation to do and that doing so is not an indictment of anyone, but an institutional commitment to confront and correct current and ongoing bias in the restoration sector, even if the discussions are uncomfortable.  We commit to approaching these issues with learning, patience, and a desire to change minds and outcomes.