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Integrating Racial and Gender Justice into Climate Resilience Efforts

Friday, March 12, 2021


Climate change is not the problem. Climate change is the most horrible outcome of an economic system built for a few and meant to extract all of the precious value from this planet and its people.

Colette Pichon Battle, Climate Justice Advocate & Executive Director, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy.


The Biden/Harris administration has begun to reverse the previous administration’s dismantling and rollback of over 100 climate and environmental rules that govern our country’s clean air, water, and toxic chemicals. As we commend these actions, we also want to recognize the frontline communities and leaders who’ve paved the way for the climate justice movement and who’ve been at the forefront of fighting injustice. Women and women of color, in particular, have led many of these battles. Unfortunately, organizations and movements led by women and communities of color have faced decades of under-investment from the philanthropic sector, especially compared to their white-led counterparts. 

To achieve climate justice, we must adopt an intersectional approach that prioritizes the agendas of those working to advance racial, gender, and economic justice. Southern California Grantmakers and Philanthropy California believe that solutions to the climate crisis must be designed and implemented by communities closest to the problems. An intersectional approach requires philanthropy to reframe disaster and accelerate financial and relational investments in BIPOC-led and women-led organizations and movements, especially those serving communities most at risk of and impacted by climate change. 

SCG and the Philanthropy California will continue to partner with frontline leaders to support community-led solutions, mobilize funders across California to prevent and address natural hazards like wildfire, and advocate for the growing importance of a Just Transition. Below, you’ll find some recommendations on how philanthropy can support frontline efforts. There's no neutrality in this climate justice – either we choose to help organizations advance equitable solutions and policies, or we choose to maintain the status quo and continue perpetuating systemic inequities.


Rethink climate change 

We need to shift how we think about the climate crisis. We recommend listening to the TED Talk by Colette Pichon Battle at Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy and read the commentary on climate feminism by Belguun Bat-Erdene at Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights.


Direct money to where it counts

A new Initiative, Climate Funders Justice Pledge, calls for 30% of climate funding to back justice groups led by people of color. In California, we are fortunate to have a network of POC-led nonprofits and coalitions - several of which are led by women of color - that address intersectional issues of climate justice, health, workforce, criminal justice, and economic justice. Our partners include the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), and Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, among others.


Engage in advocacy efforts

Philanthropy has the power to embrace advocacy and influence legislation. Several bills have been introduced that tackle the intersectional issues of gender and climate justice, including the Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act, as part of the Black Maternal Mominbus Act of 2021, and the Women and Climate Change Act of 2021


Support power building in frontline communities

Systems change won't happen unless communities prod and poke. Community organizing affects local, state, and federal policies that address community inequities and lift everyone. Resourcing community organizing is essential to ensuring long-term equity. SCG hosted a program on the importance of grassroots leadership and advancing systems change in South LA. 


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