Environmental protection is the practice of conserving natural resources and protecting global ecosystems in order to support health and wellbeing now and in the future. Social justice is grounded in the fundamental idea that every human deserves equal access to political, economic, and social rights and opportunities. The goal of social justice is fairness across all levels of society. These two are mutually supportive and come to define what we recognize as sustainability.
Environmental protection and social justice are connected by a complex network of intersectional issues. In a system where economic inequality exists there is often an uneven distribution of resources, and limited access to these resources for a vast majority of people. Socio-economic welfare and environmental protection go hand in hand; by developing social structures, environmental policies, and community support, we can work towards a sustainable future through environmental justice.
In April, we celebrated Earth Day, a day dedicated to promoting environmental action around the world. In honour of this, we are highlighting organizations and individuals who are working hard to ensure environmental justice for all. For ways you can become as involved as an individual, please head to earthday.org.
Autumn Peltier is a world-renowned water rights advocate and a leading global youth environmental activist. In 2019 at only 14 years old, she was appointed Chief Water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation, and she uses her platform to fight for access to clean water for indigenous peoples in Canada who have often fallen victim to contaminated water as a result of pollution and pipeline leaks, and have seen a lack of policy protecting their waters. Autumn stands out as an exemplary model of how to make a strong social impact through environmental protection.
Also known as Little Miss Flint, Mari Copeny first entered the public spotlight when her letter to President Obama about the water crisis prompted him to visit the city and survey the water crisis for himself. That visit ultimately led to him approving $100 million dollars in relief for the city of Flint. Despite her young age, she has made a significant impact on the dialogue around environmental racism and confronted the entire United States with the reality faced by victims of state negligence. Her youthful honesty prevents political leaders from being able to ignore the consequences of neglectful leadership. She is a climate change and social justice advocate and her work stands as a strong example of how to give a voice to the unheard hardships of Americans trapped by a collapsing and toxic infrastructure. Find out more about her current fundraisers and social initiatives here.
Nicole, a recipient of York University’s 30 Changemakers Under 30 list for 2021, is a dedicated advocate for social equity and environmental sustainability, working with the for-profit sector in bringing a socially equitable low-carbon transition, helping businesses build organizational resilience while focusing on inclusivity and sustainability.
As Climate Programs Manager with Youth Challenge International, she is helping young professionals on their environmental justice journey through various training and other programs in climate, design thinking, one-on-one mentorship, and other valuable resources to be able to pursue a career that makes a positive change.
To learn more about the work of YCI click here
B Corp Climate Collective
The B Corp Climate Collective is a group of Certified B Corporations working together to take action on the climate emergency. Their mission is to demonstrate the collective power of businesses as a part of the collective to transform commerce and to create an inclusive society and environmental regeneration. All businesses in this collective have made a legal commitment to conduct business with consideration for the environment and all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Learn more about their commitments to environmental protection here.
Newo Energy is an indigenous-led, non-profit social enterprise that explores ways to share abundance through harmonious relationships and build an economy based on more than scarcity and competition. Newo pilots initiatives including indigenous food-security programs, solar-PV design and installation, and educational workshops on clean energy. Learn more about Newo’s community initiatives here.
The Solar Power Investment Cooperation of Edmonton (SPICE)
SPICE has combined solar experts with community builders and business leaders to form a renewable energy development and investment cooperative. They are committed to projects welcomed by communities and that can attract local investment. By working with community groups and local investors SPICE develops these projects with the end goal of building healthy, abundant, and prosperous communities. SPICE works to create meaningful climate change solutions and remove the barriers to access to solar energy through their projects. Learn more about their projects here.
Hygge Energy is a blockchain-based transactive technology company that tracks energy usage and surplus from solar grids. This renewable energy marketplace increases communities’ energy self-reliance and consolidates local energy systems. It makes net-metering mutually beneficial on the one hand, improves returns for utilities, increases ROI for distributed generation owners, and reduces electricity bills for consumers on the other. Hear more about how they are solving and preventing problems in the energy industry here.