As movements have been sweeping the globe demanding for racial equity, its systemic causes and specific effects have come under closer examination, rendering the overlap with climate justice increasingly clear. In the U.S., people of color are more likely to live near toxic facilities that contribute to global warming, for example. Countries that contribute least to climate change are among the most at-risk of its effects. Indigenous lands are constantly threatened by the expansion of industry, lack of rights, and even conservation and restoration efforts conducted without proper inclusion. These are only a few of the issues where the intersection of racial and climate justice is unquestionably apparent.
One leader standing at this juncture is Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, a U.S.-based youth-led movement that seeks to address climate change by reconfiguring current systems through improved policy, creating more fair and flourishing political and economic environments in the process. In this GLF Live, the Global Landscapes Forum’s senior learning officer Salina Abraham spoke with Prakash about how this inherently means improving racial equity as well.
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Varshini Prakash is the executive director and co-founder of Sunrise, a movement of young people working to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process through the Green New Deal. Varshini has been a leading voice for young Americans, including when she helped lead a mass demonstration for the Green New Deal with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that went viral and put the climate crisis at the top of the political agenda for the 2020 elections. Varshini’s work has been featured in the New York Times, MSNBC, The New Yorker, BBC, The Washington Post and more. In 2019, she was named to Forbes 30 under 30 list for law and policy, and TIME 100 Next, a new list of rising stars who are shaping politics, popular culture, science, and more. Varshini currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Salina Abraham is a passionate advocate for youth involvement in solutions for landscape challenges. Salina was formerly president of the International Forestry Students’ Association as well as the youth coordinator at the Global Landscapes Forum. She also is a co-coordinator to the Youth in Landscapes Initiative, a partnership and capacity building program led by youth organizations and young people across agriculture, ecology and forestry. Salina has served as the focal point to the UN Forum on Forest for the Major Group Children and Youth and continues to lead delegations and deliver statements across international fora. Her academic research has taken her back to Eritrea, her country of origin, where she investigated the impact of corporate social responsibility programs on land rehabilitation and rural women’s livelihoods. Salina is passionate about tapping into commonalities across youth leaders to propel a stronger and more inclusive change.