As nurses it is our duty to maintain, improve, protect, and promote the health of everyone. The Code of Ethics for Nurses and the Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice provide a guide for the nursing profession, with these documents highlighting nurses’ ethical and professional responsibility to address environmental health in nursing.
The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) believes all humans have the right to healthy and safe environments including:
- clean air, water, and land;
- sustainable stable shelter;
- a stable climate;
- safe food and agricultural practices;
- products that are free from harmful chemicals;
- healthy living and working conditions; and
- the right and opportunities to determine the needs of one’s community and its future.
In adhering to our mission of promoting healthy people and environments, we must recognize that some communities and populations bear a disproportionately larger burden of climate change, pollution, and environmental risk as a result of, but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, age, or ability and/or other social and economic determinants of health. These historic and existing inequities influence overall health, well-being, and quality of life.
The notion that no person or community should be disproportionately impacted by environmental exposures is a core value of ANHE in all of our work as exemplified in our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion – of which the Environmental Justice Principles and Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing are part of. It is essential to create a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just movement of organizations, governments, health care systems, public health agencies, advocacy organizations, industry, and communities working towards the shared vision of healthier environments for all. In this, we recognize that environmental justice and community leaders are leading in this work and have expert knowledge of environmental impacts and solutions needed.
To do our part as an organization working towards a vision of healthy environments for all we must reflect our equity and justice values both internally and externally. Therefore, as an organization, we commit to:
- Intentionally integrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice principles throughout our programs and initiatives, and in our health, environmental, and community-based partnerships;
- Increase diversity of composition in our organizational leadership, staff, committees, and membership;
- Place justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront of organizational and programmatic decision-making to drive meaningful and sustainable change;
- Deliberately seek guidance and feedback from environmental justice leader allies, both those we are already working with to build trust and relationships and foster new relationships, so that we continue to learn in this process and truly work towards equity, justice, and inclusion; and
- Have demonstrable outcomes of greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization and with our outreach.
We realize this is a process of ongoing reflection, dialogue, listening, and learning. Our work includes eliminating structural and systemic barriers to environmental health; improving the readiness and resilience of affected communities; promoting climate mitigation, adaptation, and restoration; supporting environmental health literacy to improve the health of present and future generations.Therefore we must act in collaboration with partners, build capacity, and hold ourselves accountable as we work towards ensuring the health of all people.