BIPOC environmentalists

Josie Dale-Jones

At Staging Change, we have been learning more about some of the amazing BIPOC environmentalists who are key to climate and environmental action. Here are some short introductions with links to more information about them, or ways you can help support their mission.

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai is a social, environmental and political activist. Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1977, she founded the ‘Green Belt Movement’ which focuses on planting trees, environmental conservation and women’s rights.

What can you do?

HELP FUND the ‘Green Belt Movement’

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is a scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, and anti-globalisation author.

Vandana is a figure for the anti-globalisation movement.

What can you do?

READ one of her many many books e.g. Earth Democracy, Staying Alive, Soil not oil and many many more!

Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres was an environmental activist, indigenous leader, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

In 2015 she won the Goldman Environmental Prize. She was assassinated in 2016 for her environmental work. Today she is remembered for defending the rights of the indigenous Lenca people. Campaigns such as #DearDefendHer from Global Fund for Women, JASS and MADRE are working to protect women activists who are fighting for human and environmental rights.

What can you do?

SIGN #DearDefendHer

Chico Mendes

Francisco Alves Mendes Filho, also known as Chico Mendes was a Brazilian rubber tapper, trade union leader and environmentalist.

He fought to preserve the Amazon rainforest, and advocated for the human rights of Brazilian agricultural workers and indigenous peoples.

Mendes believed that relying on rubber tapping alone was not sustainable, and that the seringueiros (rubber tappers) needed to develop more holistic, cooperative systems that used a variety of forest products, such as nuts, fruit, oil, and fibers; and that they needed to focus on building strong communities with quality education for their children.

Mendes won several awards for his work, including the United Nations Environmental Program Global 500 Roll of Honor Award in 1987, and the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Achievement Award in 1988. Mendes was assassinated in 1988, making him the 90th rural activist murdered that year in Brazil.

In 1990 the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve was created in his honour in his home state of Acre.

What can you do?

Have a LISTEN to one of the many songs inspired by Chico, including:

"How Many People" by Paul McCartney, from the album Flowers in the Dirt (1989).

"Sacred Ground" by hard rock band Living Colour, from the album Pride (1995).

SUPPORT campaigns that protect the Amazon and the rights of activists.

Marina Silva

Silva is a Brazilian politician and environmentalist. She is currently the spokeswoman for the Sustainability Party (REDE) in Brazil.

Silva has won a number of awards from US and international organizations in recognition of her environmental activism. In 1996, Silva won the Goldman Environmental Prize for South & Central America. In 2007, the United Nations Environment Program named her one of the Champions of the Earth and the 2009 Sophie Prize.

She ran for president of Brazil in 2010, 2014 and 2018. She is demanding anti-corruption and she opposes Brazil's nuclear energy program, and wants to redistribute the nuclear energy funds in order to allocate more money towards solar and wind power.

What can you do?

FOLLOW her on twitter @MarinaSilva.

Irsa Hirsi

Isra Hirsi co-founded the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, the American arm of a global youth climate change movement.

In 2019, she won a Brower Youth Award. That same year, Hirsi received the Voice of the Future Award. In 2020, Hirsi was placed on BET's "Future 40" list.

What can you do?

WATCH her TEDx talk "Angry Black Girl"

Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain is an environmentalist and political activist as well as a major proponent of the Green politics concept of sustainable development.

Narain is director general of the India-based research institute the Centre for Science and Environment and director of the Society for Environmental Communications.

What can you do?

SUBSCRIBE to the fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth, for which she is editor

Jerome Foster II

Jerome Foster II is known for delivering passionate speeches advocating for the use of intergovernmental unity and climate justice as a means to help mitigate climate change in accordance to the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming and the Green New Deal Resolution. Jerome has led three social impact and technology ventures: TAU VR, The Climate Reporter, and OneMillionOfUs.

What can you do?

GET THE T SHIRT: He is also known for wearing a bright-blue earth shirt that says "Think Globally, Bike Locally" on the front and "One Less Car" on the back made by the company, Specialized Inc.

Leah Thomas

Leah Thomas is an intersectional environmental activist and eco-communicator. She writes, blogs and strategises for and with businesses to develop a purpose that creates justice for both people and the planet. She is Green Girl Leah.

What can you do?

WATCH her video on How Black Lives Matter And Environmental Justice Are Connected

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