South Coast AQMD’s Successful Environmental Justice Conference Drew Over 750 Participants

South Coast AQMD was proud to host its 6th Annual Environmental Justice (EJ) Conference, A New Era of Environmental Justice – Our Community Survival on October 28, 2020. The conference was presented virtually through several online platforms including WHOVA, YouTube, and Zoom, and was attended by more than 750 highly engaged participants. Conference participants asked questions during the program and interacted with others via chat and community message boards.

Master of Ceremonies Jose Trinidad Castañeda, a member of South Coast AQMD’s Youth Advisory Council, led the program. South Coast AQMD Governing Board member Judith Mitchell welcomed conference participants and introduced a pre-recorded message by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. South Coast AQMD’s Executive Officer Wayne Nastri interviewed Margaret Gordon of West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, who discussed the importance of prioritizing community activism, and “building trust and relationships; raising awareness on what environmental justice means – centering on the most impacted, at-risk and vulnerable communities.”

The conference focused on current events impacting EJ communities, including the current pandemic and social justice issues. South Coast AQMD Governing Board Chairman, Dr. William A. Burke introduced the Keynote Speaker, California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Becerra discussed the Bureau of Environmental Justice which he established in 2018 to protect people and communities that endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution and public health hazards.

Breakout sessions included AB 617 updates, a discussion about tribal nations, a highlight of women in EJ, legislation for environmental equity and recovery, youth united to change the world, and a panel with health professionals who discussed COVID-19 impacts on EJ. The plenary session featured a discussion on Black Lives Matter – Race and Environmental Justice, with civil rights, government and faith-based leaders. South Coast AQMD Governing Board member V. Manuel Perez provided closing remarks.

The conference brought together a diverse group of participants who enthusiastically discussed issues of local, national, and global consequences, and left with a commitment to achieve real and positive changes in their organizations, communities, and the environment. 

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