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Environmental Justice in Brazil

Dr. Robert Bullard from Clark Atlanta University gives the first presentation for the Environmental Justice Panel. The seated panelists are: Humberto Adami, SEPPIR’s Ombudsman; Jessy Tolkan, Political Director, Green for All; and Lisa Garcia, Senior Advisor, EPA.

On May 20-21, 2010, the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial Discrimination (JAPER) was held at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.

The objective of JAPER is to promote joint efforts and opportunities to eliminate racial discrimination. Meeting themes included economic empowerment and labor, health, civil rights and education, racial equality in the justice system, and – for the first time – environmental justice.

The U.S. and Brazil explored opportunities for partnership on environmental justice, consistent with EPA’s commitment to environmental justice, and the protection of vulnerable populations. This meeting was the first time the JAPER discussed environmental issues and environmental justice.

Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, gave a keynote speech on environmental justice to a diverse group of government, non-profit, and private sector representatives from Brazil and the U.S.

Lisa Garcia, Senior Advisor to the Administrator on Environmental Justice, moderated a panel of key leaders on environmental justice from both countries, including:

  • Dr. Robert Bullard of the Environmental Justice Center at Clark Atlanta University, known as “the father of environmental justice”;
  • Jessy Tolkan, Political Director of Green for All; and
  • Humberto Adami, Ombudsman for Brazil’s Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality.

Keynote speech given by Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA).

EPA also played a key role in a series of three environmental justice working groups, focusing on Race and Children's Environmental Health; Multiple Voices Collaborating to Address Environmental Racism; and Green Jobs--Business and Environmental Responsibility.

The U.S. and Brazilian governments saw this meeting as an important first conversation on environmental justice. At the conclusion of the session, a Steering Group of U.S. and Brazilian representatives reviewed working group suggestions and discussed next steps.

To advance further collaboration, EPA and Brazil's Secretariat for Racial Equality agreed to work with government agencies, community organizations, and universities to set up a planning meeting within the next six months.

This planning meeting will identify the outcomes, necessary resources, stakeholders and initial projects for a cooperative program on environmental justice.

The State Department also announced the establishment of a JAPER Small Grants Program, which will be used to fund activities that support JAPER goals. (Details are not yet available, but will be announced soon.)


What is JAPER?

In March 2008, the U.S. and Brazil signed a Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality (JAPER). This agreement pledges an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. and Brazil to eliminate racial discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity in both countries.

  • A Steering Group is charged with developing and implementing an action plan for cooperation. The Steering Group meets alternately in Brazil and the U.S. and includes a range of representatives from both governments.
  • U.S. and Brazilian civil society co-chairs represent NGO interests and advise on JAPER activities.
  • The growing involvement of the private sector is another critical element of JAPER.

Learn more: JAPER Fact Sheet from the Department of State (1 pp, 369K,  About PDF Files) Exit EPA disclaimer


Back to: Latin America and the Caribbean


For additional information on EPA's work with Latin America and the Caribbean, contact:

Cam Hill-Macon
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
E-mail: hill-macon.cam@epa.gov
(202) 564-6408

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