“We can’t save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people, especially those most often unheard.” – Leah Thomas
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental justice advocates for the right to a healthy and safe environment for all people, regardless of background or location. It calls for accountability and responsibility from governments, industries, and other entities to prevent and mitigate environmental harms, and to provide remedies for affected communities.
Environmental Justice is Intersectional
Environmental movements must address the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards and pollution on marginalized communities. These communities are more vulnerable to environmental degradation, such as exposure to toxic waste sites, air and water pollution, and industrial hazards.
Environment and Race
Hazardous waste sites, industrial facilities, and polluting infrastructure tend to be located in racial and ethnic minority neighborhoods. These communities often have limited access to clean air and water, healthy food options, green spaces, healthcare, and essentials. Indigenous peoples, who have long standing connections to and stewardship of land and natural resources, face environmental challenges due to historic and ongoing colonization, land dispossession, and cultural erasure.
Environment and Gender
Women and gender minorities are disproportionately affected by climate change due to existing inequalities and social norms. Such populations play critical roles in climate movements, but their contributions and knowledge are often overlooked in decision-making processes. Gender-based violence increases in vulnerable communities during environmental crises and displacement.
Environmental and social justice are intertwined
Access to clean air, water and healthy environments are essential for everyone’s quality of life. We must empower marginalized communities by uplifting their voices in decision making processes. Environmental justice requires addressing both immediate environmental concerns and broader systemic factors that perpetuate social injustices. United voices heal the Earth. Recognizing that environmental issues are intertwined with race, class, gender and more, intersectionality empowers us to create inclusive solutions that address systemic inequalities, amplify marginalized voices, and create a sustainable future for all.
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