This year conversations around the need for urgent climate action have exploded across social media. Propelled in large parts by the voices of women and girls, including the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg, people all over the world are connecting the dots between climate change, ecological breakdown and human rights.
But while in reality the environmental movement has always been a truly diverse one made up of people from all walks of life standing up for their communities and those most impacted, such diversity has not always been sufficiently visible.
It is important to remember that addressing the climate crisis and other environmental concerns means also tackling intersecting issues of race, gender and inequality. We know that climate and environmental impacts disproportionately affect already marginalised and disadvantaged individuals and communities, and their perspectives must be put front and centre.
That is why it is vital to increase the visibility of Indigenous leaders, women, ethnic minorities and advocates from the global south who have always been at forefront of campaigning for change, but whose voices have all too often been side-lined.
To mark Earth Day (22 April), we’ve put together a list of inspiring writers, advocates, lawyers, poets, journalists and thinkers on Twitter who are telling the stories of environmental justice that we all need to hear and share.
Tweet us your suggestions of who to add to @amnesty.
Danika is a lawyer from the Ermineskin Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada, who advocates for the rights of Indigenous peoples. In her legal practice she focuses in particularly on Indigenous law, environmental law – particularly around water governance—and international law.
Elizabeth is an attorney and environmental and climate justice leader who heads up UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization. She was the first Latina chair of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Gelareh is a journalist and filmmaker from Canada working with the National Geographic channel and Al Jazeera English. Her work focuses on telling the stories of the people fighting to stop climate change and ecological disaster.
The founder of Zero Hour, an intersectional movement of youth activists across the US who are campaigning for climate justice, Jamie is a passionate advocate for youth-led change. As a mixed-race Hispanic girl, Jamie’s aim was to build a movement that would champion the rights of women of colour and be led by them, too.
Jennifer is a sustainability advocate hailing from Abia State in Nigeria. She founded SustyVibes, an organisation that aims to change the perception of sustainability in Africa, especially among young people. The group started the #StareDownOnPollution campaign to increase awareness of the health impacts of pollution in Nigeria.
A microbiologist and environmental scientist from Tanzania, Joyce serves as the acting Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Kathy is a poet and spoken word artist who was born in the Marshall Islands and raised in Hawaii. Her work touches on a diverse range of issues, from the dangers of climate change to forced migration, the hazards of nuclear testing and militarism and racism. In 2014, she was selected to address the UN Climate Summit in New York with the moving poem “Dear Matafele Peinem” written to her seven-month-old daughter.
Keina is a human rights lawyer practicing in the UK, focusing on equality, non-discrimination and LGBTI rights. She is currently a research officer with the Centre for Women, Peace and Security where she is exploring the intersection between women’s rights, environmental rights and peace. She’s also got a truly brilliant Twitter handle.
A 14-year-old activist from Uganda, Leah is one of the youngest activists on this list. She is one of the main leaders of Uganda’s Fridays For Future school strikes, using her social media platform to raise awareness of environmental issues in Uganda and demand faster climate action.
MAJANDRA RODRIGUEZ ACHA
Majandra is one of the founders of TierrActiva Perú, a national network in Peru that works towards building alternatives to the climate crisis. Her work has consistently focused on the issue of climate justice and highlighting the role of young feminist activists in climate advocacy.
The director of the Urgenda Foundation in the Netherlands, Marjan led and won the foundation’s historic climate lawsuit against the Dutch government. The case was the world’s first climate liability lawsuit and has so far resulted in the government being legally bound to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, in order to comply with domestic and human rights law.
MARY ANNAISE HEGLAR
Mary is a climate justice essayist and publications director at the US-based Natural Resource Defence Council. Her writing connects the dots between environmental issues and social justice, and her essay, “Climate change ain’t the first existential threat” is an essential reading for everyone working on climate change.
MOTHERS OF INVENTION PODCAST
It would be remiss of us to create a list like this and not mention the Mothers of Invention podcast. Hosted by former Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins, this podcast celebrates the amazing women doing remarkable things in pursuit of climate justice. You’ll find many of the people mentioned on this list featured in the podcast.
In case the Twitter handle didn’t make it clear, Oladosu is a self-described ecofeminist from Abuja who has been organising the Fridays for Future climate strikes in Nigeria. She is a passionate advocate for climate justice, highlighting how climate impacts are harming people’s health and other rights.
Hailing from South Side Chicago, Rhiana is the lead policy architect of what is arguably one of the most popular and viral climate policy proposals ever: the Green New Deal. An ambitious plan to tackle climate change in a way that delivers justice and jobs, the Green New Deal has captured the imagination across the US and is fast going global.
Sutharee has worked tirelessly for what is probably the biggest environment case in Thailand today: the fight against the gold mines in the Loei province. She is a full-time human rights activist who has campaigned on a wide range of issues, from migrants’ rights to defending civic freedoms in Thailand.
Suzanne is a UK-based campaigner working on Indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental issues. She is the director of the UK Tar Sands Network, which works with the Indigenous Environmental network in campaigning against the Alberta Tar Sands.
Tara is an attorney who fights for Indigenous rights and justice. She is the national campaigns director of Honor the Earth, a US-based non-profit that campaigns for Indigenous environmental justice. She is Ojibwe from Couchiching First Nation, and founder of Not Your Mascots, which campaigns against the harmful stereotyping of Native Americans in the public sphere.
Terri is an Indigenous journalist based in the Pacific Northwest telling the story of climate change and environmental impacts from an indigenous and cultural perspective. She reports on environmental, science, climate, tribal and indigenous issues both nationally in the US and globally.
Tessa is an international human rights lawyer working on climate change litigation, which is becoming an increasingly important tactic in driving climate action. A co-director of the Climate Litigation Network, Tessa was among the key lawyers in the Urgenda case in the Netherlands that forced the Dutch government to step up its climate commitments in order to meet its human rights obligations.
Thilmeeza is an environmentalist, lecturer and former deputy ambassador to the UN from the Maldives. She co-founded the non-profit Voice of Women, and is a passionate campaigner for human rights and climate action.
DR VANDANA SHIVA
Dr Vandana is a scholar and a renowned environmental activist from India. A prolific writer and author of multiple books, she has always advocated that feminism and environmentalism are inseparable issues.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and represents only a small sample of the numerous diverse voices we should be listening to. Don’t forget to tweet your suggestions to @amnesty.