Equity and Environmental Justice at the Forum  

Since its inception, the National Adaptation Forum wants to ensure that we proactively incorporate equity, environmental justice, and climate justice issues in the Forum Program. We want to ensure that equity is considered by all sessions rather than placing climate justice and environmental equity in its own track. The following are steps taken by the Forum Steering and Program Committees with advice from the Equity and Climate Justice Working Group to ensure we are bridging the equity gap in climate adaptation practices by:

  • Inviting equity, climate justice/ environmental justice representatives and community members in both the Steering Committee and Program Committee;
  • Working to secure travel support for approximately 30% of presenters and/or participants that without the support would not be able to attend the Forum;
  • Making environmental and climate justice a focal topic and equitable adaptation a cross-cutting priority theme in the Call for Proposals;
  • Asking presenters and the Forum community to address how equity is being integrated into their work and prioritizing sessions in the program that address equitable adaptation;
  • Promoting racial and gender diversity in the Forum program;
  • Uplifting voices of community members by including them on panels and recognizing they are experts on these issues through their own lived experiences;
  • Working with committee members and Wisconsin stakeholders to organize at least one equity focused community gathering and/or tour;  
  • Providing space for equity and climate/environmental justice groups to convene or hold workshops post Forum; and
  • Encouraging as many equity and climate/environmental justice focused organizations to serve as promotional partners to ensure strong representation from this community at the event itself. Promotional partners are acknowledged on the event website and in the printed forum program. We would also like your ideas and input on how to support your organization in promoting the event among your unique constituency. 

Grounding climate adaptation efforts in principles of equity and justice is critical to improving our national resilience, and therefore is a key topic at the National Adaptation Forum. In addition to those sessions that have an explicit focus on equity, we encourage all presenters to consider incorporating an equity perspective through content in their presentations, panels or discussions, and, more importantly, in their practice. 

We use the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing 

  1. Be Inclusive: If we hope to achieve just societies that include all people in decision-making and assure that all people have an equitable share of the wealth and the work of this world, then we must work to build that kind of inclusiveness into our own movement in order to develop alternative policies and institutions to the treaties policies under neoliberalism. This requires more than tokenism, it cannot be achieved without diversity at the planning table, in staffing, and in coordination. It may delay achievement of other important goals, it will require discussion, hard work, patience, and advance planning. It may involve conflict, but through this conflict, we can learn better ways of working together. It’s about building alternative institutions, movement building, and not compromising out in order to be accepted into the anti-globalization club.
  2. Emphasis on Bottom-Up Organizing: To succeed, it is important to reach out into new constituencies, and to reach within all levels of leadership and membership base of the organizations that are already involved in our networks. We must be continually building and strengthening a base which provides our credibility, our strategies, mobilizations, leadership development, and the energy for the work we must do daily.
  3. Let People Speak for Themselves: We must be sure that relevant voices of people directly affected are heard. Ways must be provided for spokespersons to represent and be responsible to the affected constituencies. It is important for organizations to clarify their roles, and who they represent, and to assure accountability within our structures.
  4. Work Together In Solidarity and Mutuality: Groups working on similar issues with compatible visions should consciously act in solidarity, mutuality and support each other’s work. In the long run, a more significant step is to incorporate the goals and values of other groups with your own work, in order to build strong relationships. For instance, in the long run, it is more important that labor unions and community economic development projects include the issue of environmental sustainability in their own strategies, rather than just lending support to the environmental organizations. So communications, strategies and resource sharing is critical, to help us see our connections and build on these.
  5. Build Just Relationships Among Ourselves: We need to treat each other with justice and respect, both on an individual and an organizational level, in this country and across borders. Defining and developing “just relationships” will be a process that won’t happen overnight. It must include clarity about decision-making, sharing strategies, and resource distribution. There are clearly many skills necessary to succeed, and we need to determine the ways for those with different skills to coordinate and be accountable to one another.
  6. Commitment to Self-Transformation: As we change societies, we must change from operating on the mode of individualism to community-centeredness. We must “walk our talk.” We must be the values that we say we’re struggling for and we must be justice, be peace, be community.