By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on May 21, 2021
The climate crisis affects us all, but not all of us equally. Marginalized and underprivileged individuals, groups, and communities face disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis — while being the least responsible for its causes. These struggles are often compounded by unequal access to the resources needed for urgent adaptation and mitigation efforts. Some of these people most affected are our colleagues and friends living on small islands in the Zanzibar archipelago.
2020 was marked by massive forest fires burning on four different continents, record-breaking high temperatures in the Arctic, and the loss of Canada’s last remaining ice shelf. The year was also marked by extraordinary pain and protest all around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed and exacerbated many social injustices and inequalities that have driven us into these dual emergencies. Like many of you, this period of unprecedented global transformation led to ongoing reflection within Community Forests International.
Community Forests International’s mission is to protect
and restore Earth’s climate by enabling communities
and forests to thrive together.
As we enter the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, we are committed more than ever to centring climate justice in our vision, mission, and actions. We know we must address systematic inequalities in order to allow all communities, forests, and our shared climate to thrive — and we are committed to holding the people and communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change at the heart of our thinking and acting.
What is climate justice?
“Climate justice” is a term and a movement that acknowledges the differing social, economic, health, and other impacts that the climate crisis has within underprivileged communities. Low-income communities, communities of colour, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2S+ communities, people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, youth, women – all can be more vulnerable to adverse climate impacts. From major storm events to rising temperatures, the increasing climate crisis is creating more and more of these external challenges that heighten existing inequities within and between communities.
“You can’t build a just and equitable society on a planet that’s been destabilized by human activities. Nor can you stop the world from warming without the experience and the expertise of those most affected by it.”
– Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post
Climate justice examines the climate crisis through an intersectional, human-rights lens. It recognizes that all inequalities are connected to environmental and climate movements. Climate justice uplifts voices and leaders from communities at the forefront of movements for equality — and recognizes that the most effective and impactful climate solutions will be found when all members of our global communities can work together for climate solutions.
Climate justice means rebalancing the scales.
Climate justice requires those most privileged, and often most responsible for the climate crisis, to actively redistribute wealth and resources to those most vulnerable and most affected. It means supporting diverse and inclusive community-led climate action, and uplifting the voices of historically marginalized community members. It can mean stepping back to allow others to step up.
Climate justice also means acting in solidarity with Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and communities of colour; for Indigenous reconciliation and land sovereignty; for LGBTQ2S+ and gender equality; and against growing income and wealth disparities. Only by challenging all forms of oppression in our society can we realise our ability to collectively respond and adapt to the climate crisis over the next decade and century. The movement for climate justice is a movement for resilience.
Community Forests International’s commitment to anti-racism.
We are currently inspired by Future Ancestors, the Intersectional Environmentalist, and Mi’kmawey Forestryamong many others. The work of the Yellowhead Institute, Chelsea Vowel / âpihtawikosisân, and Layla F. Saad have been instrumental in unlearning and working to dismantle systemic inequalities.
Listen to what the climate movement can learn from Black Lives Matter, disability and climate change, and subscribe to Under The Weather.
Take action by telling your local MP to support Bill C-230 and the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism.