Climate action as a matter of racial justice
I have seen people of the Caribbean prove their resilience time and time again and I know that despite the challenges we will face in the coming decisive decade, Caribbean people will continue to rise, lead, and succeed.
The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA) is working to make the Caribbean the world's first climate-smart zone. We are committed to renewable energy and to building physical and economic resilience across the region.
We do this because we have to - because the ocean, Earth’s ecosystems, and the biodiversity of our planet depend on it. We also do it for ourselves - because climate action, now more than ever, is a matter of racial justice.
In David Lammy’s recent Ted Talk he establishes that: “It is people of colour who are more likely to suffer in the climate crisis… The cheapest housing tends to be next to the busiest roads, and many of the lowest paid jobs are in the most polluting industries.” He goes on to cite: “This story connects Black communities across the world, from London to Lagos to LA. Black Americans are exposed to 56% more pollution than they cause.” There are endless points of correlation.
This inequity is devastatingly evident in the Caribbean and all over the globe. Climate justice simply cannot happen without racial justice - and all sectors in society must step up and take responsibility to deliver access to justice to the most vulnerable individuals and communities. With this desire for justice in mind, I encourage all of you to watch the incredible Hina Jilani, member of The Elders, discuss the importance of access to justice in her State of Hope talk.
Hina explains how a vibrant civil society can help to foster a culture of hope and empowerment across race, class, gender, and generational divides. As co-chair of the Taskforce of Justice, she is uniquely positioned to share how we can each counter the shrinking space for civil society and tackle the global crisis of injustice.
Since the CCSA launched in 2018, The Elders have inspired me and guided me as they tirelessly work to amplify the voices of grassroots activists and civil society. Their engagement with heads of state and policymakers is helping to drive development, social justice and economic growth. They are the true leaders our world needs right now.
I was also incredibly moved by Ugandan Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate’s response to Hina’s talk. She said: “All we really want is a future that is sustainable, healthy, clean for all of us, and this is why we are going to keep demanding for climate justice.” She gives me great hope that with The Elders and the future generation, we can bridge the gaps for change and achieve climate justice.
We are at a critical juncture in the Caribbean’s (and the planet’s) journey towards energy security, and we must come together now to ensure we find viable, forward-focused solutions that embed justice for all at the core.
I am both hopeful and confident that we will succeed, remembering what the great man, and The Elder’s founder, Nelson Mandela, said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Join The Elders live and online on 16 July (3pm London / 10am New York) as the reflect on Nelson Mandela’s legacy and look at its relevance to current challenges. Take part in the discussion via #StateOfHope and StateOfHope.live