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  • Farah Al Jallad

A Push for More Diverse Representation Among Climate Action Funding Recipients Gains Steam

Black, Indigenous, and people of color are being hit hard by climate change. Yet, while various organizations fund climate advocacy initiatives, support for BIPOC communities is lacking. According to a 2020 study done by The New School, of the $1.34 billion awarded to environmental organizations by 12 grant makers between 2016 and 2017, only 1.3% ($18 million) went to organizations led by people of color.

The Donors of Color Network is a community of cross-racial philanthropists addressing racial inequities in climate fundraising. Their new pledge aims to push the country's largest climate funders to commit to greater transparency of climate funding activities and to provide at least 30% of their climate change donations to BIPOC-led groups within two years.

Taking this pledge and implementing other steps to improve diversity and help communities of color would impact how these communities are affected by climate change.

Championed by BIPOC peoples from its inception, the environmental justice movement's founders had a vision of equity in terms of its impact. The movement centers around the idea that every person, despite their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, should be treated equally and fairly in environmental matters. This is especially important as climate change is having a disproportionate impact on BIPOC communities.

The environmental justice movement can't solve climate change if the most vulnerable communities are not supported. For there to be a proper climate solution, communities of color need a seat at the table, which includes access to funding for climate action. Several states in the U.S. are suffering from severe heat and drought, disrupting native lands and the way of life of the individuals who live there, harming their physical and mental health.

The Navajo Nation, which currently resides in New Mexico, is one of these communities.

The effects of climate change are forcing the Navajo Nation to leave their native homeland because of increasing food insecurity and lack of sustainable water resources. Unfortunately, a forced relocation can have severe and long-lasting negative impacts on the nation’s future.

Much like other communities of color, the Navajo Nation has long been a victim of environmental racism. Government approval and a lack of protective policies for certain nations and communities allowed extractive industries to operate in their area, polluting their air and water.

Communities of color have been at the forefront of increased natural disasters, a dire consequence of climate change. The government and nonprofit sector are failing to meet the demand for aid due to these calamities. Because of the lack of diversity in leadership from traditionally funded environmental organizations, important issues or opportunities are at risk of being ignored.

Engaging with more diverse communities and allowing them to make essential decisions regarding ethnic minorities can save the land and way of life integral to BIPOC communities while also helping to reach the environmental justice movement’s vision.

Many other communities are experiencing the same hardships that the Navajo Nation is encountering. Additional funds directed to these communities and more BIPOC representation among climate organizations can cause a profound shift within our system and how communities of color experience the effects of climate change.


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