Sierra Club Conservation Policies
The Board of Directors of the Sierra Club recognizes that to achieve our mission of
environmental protection and a sustainable future for the planet, we must attain social
justice and human rights at home and around the globe. The Board calls on all parts of the
Club to discuss and explore the linkages between environmental quality and social justice,
and to promote dialogue, increased understanding and appropriate action.
Adopted Board of Directors - September 18-19, 1993
Environmental Justice Principles
Remembering that the Sierra Club's founder,
John Muir, said: "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray
in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike," and reaffirming
our stated Purposes:
The Sierra Club's purpose is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild
places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems
and resources; and to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of
the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these
We adopt the following Environmental Justice Principles to provide a vision of how our
Club's Purposes should justly serve the Earth and all of humanity. Through these
Principles, we intend that Earth's wild places should be protected so that all people and
future generations may explore and enjoy nature's beauty; that the Earth's ecosystems and
resources should be used responsibly and sustainably so that all people and future
generations may share nature's bounty; that the natural and human environment should be
restored to the benefit of all people and for other living things, and their future
generations; and that no community should bear disproportionate risks of harm because of
their demographic characteristics or economic condition.
1. We support the right to a clean and healthful environment for all people
A. The Right to Democracy
We support government by the people. Corporate influence over governments must be
constrained to stop the erosion of the peoples' right to govern themselves and
governments' ability to establish justice and to promote the general welfare.
B. The Right to Participate
People have the right to participate in the development of rules, regulations, plans,
and evaluation criteria and at every level of decision-making. Environmental
decision-making must include the full range of alternatives to a proposed action or plan,
including rejection of the proposed action or plan. Barriers to participation (cultural,
linguistic, geographic, economic, other) should be addressed.
C. The Right to Equal Protection
Laws, policies, rules, regulations, and evaluation criteria should be applied in a
nondiscriminatory manner. Laws, policies, regulations, or criteria that result in
disproportionate impact are discriminatory, whether or not such a result was intended, and
should be corrected. We support environmental restoration and the redressing of
D. The Right to Know
People have a right to know the information necessary for informed environmental
E. The Right to Sustainable Environmental Benefits
People are entitled to enjoy the sustainable aesthetic, recreational, cultural,
historical, scientific, educational, religious, sacred, sustenance, subsistence, cultural,
and other environmental benefits of natural resources. However, actions that tend to ruin
the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community are unethical.
F. The Right to Equity
Environmentally degrading land uses should be avoided, but when such uses occur, they
should be equitably sited taking into account all environmental and community impacts
including the cumulative and synergistic ecological and health effects of multiple
facilities. All people have the right to a safe and healthful work and home environment.
G. The Right to Generational Equity
Future generations have a fundamental right to enjoy the benefits
of natural resources, including clean air, water, and land, to have an uncontaminated food
chain, and to receive a heritage of wilderness and a functioning global ecosystem with all
species naturally present.
H. The Rights of Native People
We oppose efforts to dispossess indigenous peoples of their lands, their cultures, and
their right to self-determination. We support Native Peoples' wielding of their sovereign
powers to protect the environment and to establish environmental justice.
2. We support an end to pollution
The long-range policy goal priorities for environmental protection must be:
(1) to end the production of polluting substances and waste through elimination,
replacement, redesign, reduction, and reuse (zero waste),
(2) to prevent any release of polluting substances (zero emissions, zero discharge),
(3) to prevent any exposure of plants, animals, or humans to polluting substances, and
(4) to remediate the effects of any such exposure.
3. We support the precautionary principle
When an activity potentially threatens human health or the environment, the proponent
of the activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof as to the
harmlessness of the activity. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage,
lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to
prevent environmental degradation.
Adopted by the Board of Directors, February 17, 2001.