WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation and Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) hosted the second in a series of roundtables with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander experts across the energy, workforce development, policy, and economic sector. The “Centering Communities of Color in the Clean Economy” roundtable focused on racial justice, business ownership, and economic inclusion in the clean economy. The roundtable gathered 22 leaders representing national and community-based organizations to discuss priorities and recommendations that ensure communities of color understand, access, and economically benefit from federal investments in infrastructure and clean energy.
“Frontline communities and communities of color have only seen their health, environmental and economic challenges exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation. “Centering their expertise, concerns, and voices when planning and implementing solutions is a crucial step toward advancing racial and economic justice. We must be laser focused on moving our most vulnerable communities from surviving to thriving.”
“Empowering and lifting the voice of frontline, fence line, and shoreline communities is crucial if we want to address the current unemployment crisis and our nation’s racial and environmental injustices,” said Simone Lightfoot, associate vice president of environmental justice for the National Wildlife Federation. “By intentionally centering the priorities and recommendations of communities of color, we can better ensure that any recovery efforts don’t perpetuate historical disparities and do not leave frontline communities behind.”
“We have an opportunity and responsibility to ensure that any job creation initiatives stemming out of the COVID-19 unemployment crisis, have equitable benefits for communities across our nation,” said Camilla Simon, executive director of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO). “The perspectives shared during this convening are essential to strengthen and connect any government investment and recovery efforts to Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community knowledge and experience.”
Invited participants included Dr. Tony G. Reames, University of Michigan – Energy Justice Lab; Audra Carson, Izzie LLC; Kim Simmons, Detroit River Project; Donna Davidson, Eastside Community Network; Steve Branch, Former Flint (Mich.) City Administrator; Donnell Wilkins, Green Donor Initiative; Bruce Ross, Healthy Kidz Inc.; Jimmy Copeland, Human Resources Management; Dr. Kenneth Harris, National Business League; Gregg Orton, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans; Chris Madrid, New Mexico Workforce Board; Adrianna Quintero, Energy Foundation; Paula Garcia, Union of Concerned Scientists; Tiffany Chang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors Advisory Board; Brianna Dimas, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Kristopher Sanchez, Nevada Office Of The Governor – Economic Development Office; Eric McIntosh, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Harold Mitchell, Regenesis Environmental Justice Partnership; Moses Boyd, Integrated Solutions Group; Dr. Diedre Sanders, Consultant; Elijio Carlos Ramirez, Arizona State Parks & Trails.
“We have a responsibility to address the needs of Black businesses throughout the country, disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing opportunities in emerging markets such as infrastructure and the environment,” said Dr. Kenneth L. Harris, president and CEO of the National Business League, Inc. “By doing so, this helps Black businesses diversify into new federal contracting opportunities that will create more sustainable jobs in neighborhoods and communities of color.”
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are facing significant disparities due to COVID-19, including the devastating anti-Asian attacks, high health impacts, and slow economic recovery in our communities. However, underlying factors that lead to these issues did not arise during the pandemic – like many other communities of color, many AAPI communities disproportionately live in urbanized communities with higher living costs, and oftentimes lack the access to basic resources and necessities. Solutions to these issues must include community-centered solutions that take into account disaggregated data and language access components,” said Gregg Orton, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).
“As frontline communities continue to experience severe impacts as a result of our rapidly changing climate, we must work towards an equitable framework for Black, Indigenous, and people of color to have advanced opportunities for capital and technical assistance projects where they may have the space and support to innovate,” said Rebecca Chavez-Houck, advisory board member of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO). “This starts with ensuring that BIPOC are public administrators and decision makers. Additionally, expanding educational opportunities for BIPOC students to explore career choices that will lead to emerging markets and natural sciences is essential for a safe and sustainable future.”
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