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Pet Sins July 2009

Marcelo Bonta, Director of the Center for Diversity and the Environment

During his career as a wildlife conservationist in the U.S., Marcelo Bonta, who is of Filipino and white descent, noticed that people of color were under-represented in his line of work. Bonta, having realized that he was the "only person of color on Defenders of Wildlife's entire conservation staff nationwide at that time", said, "I wasn't expecting a real lack of diversity in the movement." (All Our Shades of Green - Discovering Northwest Environmentalists of Color, Apr 2008 ColorsNW)

Is this under-representation due to non-whites' supposed disinterest in the environment? Bonta did not believe so, pointing to a 2003 study indicating that proportionally, more blacks than whites in the Detroit metro area cited neighborhood environmental issues to be among their greatest concerns and consciously made environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices. (All Our Shades of Green - Discovering Northwest Environmentalists of Color, Apr 2008 ColorsNW)

To remedy the 'unintentional exclusion' of people of color from environmental activist groups, Bonta created the Center for Diversity and the Environment to provide strategic direction on diversifying the environmental movement.