Statement from Sustainable Hudson Valley on Black Lives, Climate Justice and the Work Ahead
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”
Dr. Paul Farmer
Sustainability does not just mean making things less bad for the environment, economy and our communities. It means creating the conditions for all people, and nature, to thrive. Today, we face accelerating climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic devastation and civil unrest connected with widespread concern about systemic racism. Our board, staff, and collaborators take this moment seriously as a wake-up call for transformative change. We understand that a system or enterprise is only sustainable if it is ecologically sound and promotes human well-being equitably.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States, with higher than average impacts on people of color, working people in “essential” but low-income jobs, and people with compromised health due to exposure to environmental pollution. While this tragedy has unfolded, the nation has witnessed repeated, unlawful and unprovoked police violence against people of color. The climate crisis is doing its greatest harm to people who are economically and politically vulnerable, and we take responsibility for continuous learning from their experience. Of the many important human dimensions of sustainability, we believe that racial and climate justice deserve more attention than we have historically given them, both ethically and strategically.
To act on these beliefs, we will:
- Educate ourselves about the communities and neighborhoods that have been most seriously impacted by climate change impacts such as flooding, extreme weather, heat waves, droughts and climate-related disease, and build relationships with these communities to identify the best ways to address these injustices;
- Identify barriers to access to clean energy and sustainable transportation options, including financing and education, and expand our programs to bring these benefits to those who are most economically vulnerable as well as to communities with climate justice concerns;
- Orient our work toward a Regional Climate Action Plan so that it gives priority to inclusive job-creation and creative participation opportunities.
Going forward, Sustainable Hudson Valley pledges to:
- Hold ourselves accountable for inclusiveness and stay mindful of the justice and equity considerations connected with all the work we take on.
- Pay particular attention to climate justice in all our efforts.
- Speak out immediately against high-profile acts of institutional racism or violence against people of color in our communities.
- Celebrate diversity of race, culture, age, lifestyle and outlook as a profound source of resilience for our communities and our organization.
- Regularly review, and transparently assess, progress to advance these commitments.