Include ethnic minority voices
Ensure ethnic minority voices are meaningfully and consistently included in the fight for climate justice in Scotland, including through funding and supporting platforms which enable this while proactively removing financial and other barriers to participation in policymaking.
It has never been more important that the voices of ethnic minority groups and organisations are listened to in Scotland in the fight for climate justice. We know that these groups are under represented in the environmental movement. Data show us that the nature sector is the second least diverse, with agriculture the only sector to perform more poorly. 40
This is particularly concerning as the environmental movement, as well as governments, have so much to learn from these voices. Traditional knowledge of good ecological practices can play a huge role in shaping climate policy, as can the voices of diaspora communities in Scotland, many of whom have friends and family who are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change first hand.
Because of the barriers that ethnic minorities face in society (historical mistrust in public institutions, apathy from continued discrimination in society, more likely to live in poverty etc) participation should be meaningful in that outcomes/changes are clearly communicated to participants and also that they are remunerated for their time. Asking ethnic minorities to share their experiences is good but vitally important is how the Scottish Government responds to that and appreciates their time. In the past the government has been good at asking for lived experience but not communicating outcomes so it begs the questions – to what end and how does that actually help ethnic minority participants? The onus is on the government to ensure ethnic minority voices are heard in a way that is accessible, not in a tokenistic way.
Platforms such as the Ethnic Minority Environmental Network at CEMVO Scotland can play a key role in bridging the gap between grassroots, ethnic minority-led groups and mainstream environmental organisations.
A positive step would be for the Scottish Government to fund programmes like the CEMVO Scotland Race Equality Environmental Programme (REEP, currently funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation). This programme aims to mainstream race equality into the policy and practice of environmental organisations in Scotland through 1-2-1 consultancy as well as training sessions.
For further information:
- Ethnic Minority Environmental Network home page, www.theemennetwork.com
- Race Equality Environmental Programme, CEMVO, https://cemvoscotland.org.uk/race-equality-environmental-programme/
Route map towards greater ethnic diversity, Wildlife and Countryside Link, 2022, https://www.wcl.org.uk/diversity-route-map.asp