This Earth Day we want to amplify the voices of Latina environmental organizations that are advocating for our planet and communities affected by climate change.
Rural and indigenous communities are especially vulnerable to the harsh effects of climate change, with poverty and lack of resources negatively impacting the quality of life for these communities. Organizations Azul, Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance, and Her Justice are working to amplify voices, advocate for underserved communities, and push for reform and legislation to protect the environment and vulnerable populations.
Founded by Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, an environmental justice advocate who began her career in the commercial fishing and aquaculture fields, Azul is a grassroots organization working with Latinos to conserve marine resources and bring Latino perspectives and participation to ocean conservation.
After experiencing how mainstream ocean conservation efforts and campaigns were leaving Latinos out, Marce decided to start Azul to engage her community in protecting coastal resources and marine life.
“Long before things like canvas bags were in vogue at organic markets, our abuelitas used their reusable bags to shop en el mercado. We believe our culture can lead the way and inspire our conservation efforts.”
Through her work, she has helped design and implement a statewide network of marine protected areas as well as a sustainability and marketing program for local California fisheries.
As a leader in the campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in California, she has worked to reduce marine pollution and protect ocean wildlife. In addition to the single-use plastic bag ban, Azul has been instrumental in policy victories such the Shark Fin Ban which bans the sale and possession of shark fins in California and establishing the right for the Coastal Comission to impose fines to private property owners who illegally block access to beaches.
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“We treasure the life-sustaining force of the ocean, as well as the physical and spiritual nourishment it provides us. We are a Gente powered and led effort, focused first on celebrating our rich Latino conservation traditions and connecting them to current solutions. Our work is based in authentic engagement, community building, and collaboration.”
Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance
Former Latinas in Business board member, Maria Santiago Valentin is the Founding President of Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance (ACJA), whose mission is to “[apply] the power of deep grassroots organizing to win local, regional, statewide, national and international shifts” regarding climate change and unjust exposure of marginalized communities to its damaging effects.
The organization is committed to building and strengthening a wide culture of diversity, inclusion, and equity issues affecting communities of color.
“ACJA is very personal to me. I wanted for so long to alleviate conditions of communities of color impacted by climate change in many states, including Puerto Rico,” said Maria Santiago Valentin.
Through a variety of projects and campaigns, the non-governmental collective of rural and urban community-based organizations focuses on education and advocacy of underrepresented communities, race and ethnicity, economic development, and poverty alleviation — all with the wider aim of addressing climate change.
Some of their projects include policy reform efforts, educational presentations, marches for environmental justice, calls to action, forums, and more.
Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: Rain Gardens, Rain Roofs, Green Infrastructure and Flood Protection to our Homes by Jessica Thrasher https://t.co/ga2ZCVcsVD
— Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance (@GlobalACJA) April 18, 2022
ACJA also has a bilingual podcast, Green Latinas Podcast, which features Latino and non-Latino leaders in the EJ and Climate Justice movement.
Justice for Migrant Women
Through public awareness and educational campaigns, art activism, and strategic media initiatives, Justice for Migrant Women is bringing the issues and struggles of migrant women to the forefront of national conversation and advocating for their rights.
The organization was founded by Mónica Ramirez, a long-time advocate, organizer, social entrepreneur, and attorney who, for over two decades, has fought for the civil and human rights of women, children, workers, Latinos/as, and immigrants.
One of the organization’s many projects focuses on amplifying the voices of farmworkers, who historically have been undervalued and negatively impacted by climate issues.
Farmworker Awareness aims to raise awareness about farmworker conditions and to honor their important contributions to us every day. In partnership with Student Action with Farmworkers, Justice for Migrant Women hosted a virtual celebration for farmworkers to initiate the week of action for national and local partner organizations.
“Part of my mission has been making sure that these stories are heard, but largely my mission has been focused on doing all that it is in my power to change these conditions so that we can remove the barriers,” said Mónica Ramirez.
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The Humans Who Feed Us is another campaign that focuses on sharing the stories thousands of individuals who work across the food supply chain ranging from agricultural workers, restaurant workers, grocery store employees, truck drivers, meat and poultry workers, and so many others.
Immigrant community members are among those who help to feed us through their work. Many of these workers are often invisible to people and the communities where they work and live even though they touch our lives every day through their life-sustaining labor.
The Humans Who Feed Us campaign seeks to center these workers, their stories, their contributions, and their priorities. The project humanizes workers across the food supply chain, shows the interdependence among businesses, the workers they employ and consumers, and fosters a sense of belonging for these incredible community members in the places where they live and work.
These Latina environmental organizations are doing their part to spread awareness and uplift Latino and Hispanic voices regarding climate change issues and the communities affected. Latino perspectives are valuable and representation is necessary in these spaces. Together we can all work to preserve our planet and protect vulnerable communities.