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Daily News Blog

22
Sep

Second Session of National Forum on Environmental Justice; Recording of Forum Talks by Dave Goulson and André Leu Released

National Forum Series Forging a Future snapshot Forging a Future with Nature

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2023) Beyond Pesticides today announced the second session of the National Forum, Forging a Future with Nature: The existential challenge to end petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer use, scheduled for October 24, 2:00pm EDT. The hard-hitting talks of Dave Goulson, PhD, and André Leu, DSc. are now available as recordings on the Beyond Pesticides website. 

Beyond Pesticides introduces the Forum: A future supported by the natural environment depends on our effective involvement in decisions in our homes, communities, states, and at the federal level to ensure that we are taking the steps necessary to protect against existential threats to health, biodiversity, and climate. The Forum is an important opportunity to hear from those working as scientists, advocates, land managers (from gardens, parks, play fields to farms), and public decisionmakers about steps being taken and action needed to prevent catastrophic collapse of the natural systems that sustain life. A key part of this conversation, according to Beyond Pesticides, is addressing inequities associated with elevated rates of poisoning, contamination, and diseases in people of color communities.

In introducing the importance of environmental justice and addressing the disproportionate risk from toxic pollution to people of color communities as a key part of policies and practices governing ecosystems, the Forum materials quote Dr. Martin Luther King: Dr. King (1963) who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Sixty years later, people of color in the U.S. and around the world struggle with inequities that place disproportionate risk in ways that are institutionalized in the economic and social system.   

This session of the Forum will highlight environmental justice as a human rights issue. In 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council declared “the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.” According to the UN, “This right is an important catalyst for change, being crucial for the right to life, food, and decent work, among others.” 

Speaking at the Forum will be Marcos Orellana, PhD, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, who is an expert in international law and the law on human rights and the environment. His recent reports in South Africa and Australia capture the significance of his pursuit of environmental justice. Dr. Orellana teaches at the American University Washington College of Law.  

His work around the world captures critical truths that are challenges across the globe, such as his statement after a visit to South Africa in September. Dr. Orellana said, “The term “environmental racism” describes institutionalized discrimination based on race or colour. In pre-1994 South Africa, the distribution of environmental risks and harms disproportionately and often deliberately targeted low-income groups and along racial lines. Today, despite the efforts by Government in setting up institutions and laws to address this legacy of environmental racism, pervasive air, water, and chemical pollution still imposes a heavy toll, especially on disadvantaged communities. Overcoming it will require significant additional efforts, including structural, legislative, economic, and environmental changes. 

Professor Orellana has extensive experience working with civil society around the world on issues concerning global environmental justice. He was the inaugural director of the Environment and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. Previously he directed the trade and the human rights programs at the Center for International Environmental Law, and he co-chaired the UN Environment Program’s civil society forum. Dr. Orellana teaches at the American University Washington College of Law. He has also lectured at prominent universities around the world, including Melbourne, Pretoria, Geneva, and Guadalajara. He was a fellow at the University of Cambridge, a visiting scholar with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC, and an instructor professor of international law at the Universidad de Talca, Chile. 

Also speaking at the Forum will be jayson porter, PhD, an environmental historian of Mexico and the Americas who teaches science and technology studies, material culture, and black geographies in Latin America. Dr. Porter focuses on oilseeds, agrochemicals, environmental justice, and ecological violence. He is an editorial board member of the North American Congress on Latin America and a Voss Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (2022), and he recently began teaching in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

In “Cotton, Whiteness, and Poisons” (Environmental Humanities, Nov. 2022), which Dr. porter coauthored, identified are some of the historical roots of environmental injustice characterized as “labor exploitation conditioned by racist ideologies” underpinning plantation agriculture. The recognition that dependency on pesticides and fertilizers undermines the economic stability of small farmers, the article states, “At the Tuskegee Institute’s agricultural experiment station, George Washington Carver recognized that commercial fertilizers were a key source of debt for Black farmers and tenants. He encouraged composting and the use of organic fertilizers found on the farm, writing that “many thousands of dollars are being spent every year here in the South for fertilizers that profit the user very little, while Nature’s choicest fertilizer is going to waste.” 

In 2022, Dr. porter wrote, Agrochemicals, Environmental Racism, ad Environmental Justice in U.S. History (Organic Center, 2022), Dr. Porter writes, “Robert Bullard defines environmental racism as any policy or practice that unequally affects or disadvantages individuals, groups or communities based on their race. Vann Newkirk II adds that environmental racism is the opposite of environmental justice and often ignores or belittles input from the affected communities of color.” 

Attention has been brought to the need for environmental justice in the U.S. in recent years by the establishment of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Justice 40 Initiative, which includes issues relating to climate change, legacy pollution, clean water, and wastewater infrastructure, and the establishment of a new EPA office of environmental justice and external civil rights (2022), “elevating equity concerns to higher levels within the agency.” The organizers cite the need for more work to be done, given the toxic legacy, high-risk occupational exposures (e.g., farmworkers, landscapers, chemical manufacturing), manufacturing emissions to fenceline communities, pesticide drift in agricultural communities, and the continuing registration and use of toxic pesticides that cause disproportionate adverse effects to people of color and their communities. 

Make plans to attend the 40th National Forum, Forging a Future with Nature, on October 24, 2:00-4:00pm EDT. Sign up here to receive a Zoom link, if you have not already signed up!


All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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2 Responses to “Second Session of National Forum on Environmental Justice; Recording of Forum Talks by Dave Goulson and André Leu Released”

  1. 1
    Paule Hjertaas Says:

    Is this really form 2022 or did iyou make a mistake and it is the upcomng tak in 2023?

  2. 2
    Beyond Pesticides Says:

    Thanks Paule for the flag! This is an upcoming webinar on October 24, 2023; we have moved forward and updated the post. All the best on behalf of the team!

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  • Archives

  • Categories

    • air pollution (8)
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