faith in action

Black, Brown, and Indigenous Climate and Environmental Justice Leaders Speak on Sustainable Climate Solutions at Virtual Faith Panel Discussion

Panelists Urge Restoration and Hope Over Doom

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office, Creation Justice Ministries, and The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church,
hosted a one-hour panel discussion with Black, Brown, and Indigenous climate and environmental leaders who are leading the way in advocating for sustainable solutions for their communities and the world.

The panel included Bette Billot, member of the United Houma Nation and an advocate for climate and economic injustices, Tiffany Fant, Co-Executive Director of Sol Nation Inc., Peniel Ibe, Policy Engagement Coordinator at American Friends Service Committee Office of Public Policy and Advocacy, and Yvette Arellano, Founder and Executive Director of Fencelinewatch.

“As we acknowledge and honor the ancestors whose land we are on, we want to also acknowledge the enslaved ancestors who had to forcibly work the land and build many of our cities without pay for centuries,” shared Co-Executive Director Karyn Bigelow in her opening reflection. “An estimated 10 million enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas beginning in the 1500s until 1867. Countless millions of enslaved Africans suffered in bondage in what is now known as the United States,” she said.

Bigelow’s words reframed for listeners the narrative of what it means for people of faith to be in a just and right relationship with all of God’s creation.

After the reflection, the discussion began with each panelist sharing their community’s perspective and the solutions they are advocating for that center dignity, well-being, and liberation for communities who are often the most impacted by climate and environmental injustice.

“When you go into any community you will see that Black folks are significantly impacted by climate and environmental injustice, but have contributed the least to the climate crisis,” said Tiffany Fant, Co-Executive Director of SolNation.

Ms. Bette Billot of Terrebonne Parish in South Louisiana explained how her community is the buffer to the city of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana. She said Hurricane Ida destroyed her town and the towns around it and the United Houma Nation is saving what they have left and rebuilding. “We are committed to staying!”

Panelists’ perspectives focused on their contexts and experience of advocating within the U.S. and Internationally at the U.N. Climate Conference C.O.P. 26, where there was a specific call for climate reparations as a sustainable solution to the climate crisis. The discussion concluded with an invitation to faith communities to respond to the call from Black, Brown, Indigenous communities of color to be in solidarity and choose “restoration and hope over doom.“

You can listen and view the whole conversation via the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office Facebook page or visit here.