The environment sector is whiter than white. In the UK as a whole, according to a study by Policy Exchange, only 0.06% of environment professionals are from ethnicities other than White British. This is second only to farming in lists of least diverse occupations. In both sectors, the numbers of workers from Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, other Asian, Black or Mixed ethnic groups are so small as to be unreportable in Government statistics.
However, there are of course many great British Black and Asian Environmentalists, doing brilliant work that deserves to be highlighted.
Aisha Younis and Suzanne Dhaliwal, Climate Reframe
The climate reframe project aims to ‘highlight some of the best Black, Brown, Asian, People of Colour and UK based Indigenous Peoples who are climate experts, campaigners and advocates living and working in the UK.’ Aisha and Suzanne from Doc Society founded the project along with Mary Robinson’s climate podcast Mothers of Invention.
Anita Okunde UK Student Climate Network
Okunde is active in the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) – the grassroots youth climate strikes organisers in the UK. She is currently working with youth climate strikers Manchester and Fridays for Future to support digital climate actions during the global pandemic, and is a Former Member of Youth Parliament for Rochdale. Follow Anita Okunde on Twitter and Instagram.
Beth Collier At Home in Nature
Beth is a psychotherapist with a specialism in working with nature as a partner in the therapeutic process. Founder of Wild in the City, she works to create opportunities for the representation of black leadership in nature. Wild in the City
David Lindo The Urban Birder
David Lindo is also known as The Urban Birder. Originally from London, David is a wildlife broadcaster, nature writer, bird guide leader, speaker and urban wildlife educationalist. His mission is to engage city folk around the world with the environment through the medium of birds.
Louis VI. “The world is (y)ours”
Louis VI is a rapper has tackled the environmental impact of climate change through his lyrics. He wrote and presented a documentary called The world is (y)ours which aims to help young people of colour in Britain understand that where we live is negatively affecting where we’re from. LOUIS VI (@ItsLouisVI) · Twitter
Mya-Rose Craig, birdgirl: Black2Nature
Mya-Rose Craig is an 18-year-old British-Bangladeshi naturalist, passionate about birds, conservation and saving our planet whilst respecting Indigenous Peoples and highlighting global climate justice. She writes a blog, has spoken alongside Greta Thunberg and Chris Packham and appears on TV and radio. As president of Black2Nature, which she set up when she was 14, she is the youngest to be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science for fighting for equal access to nature. Follow Mya-Rose Craig on Twitter and Instagram.
Zakiya McKenzie and Jasmine (Jazz) Ketibuah-Foley. Green & Black Ambassadors
First Ambassadors, Zakiya and Jazz’s work led to research and a report on how to improve the diversity of Bristol’s sustainability community. Zakiya was also Forest England’s writer in residence (Zakiya Mecca – Do the write thing) and Jazz is a journalist, environmental activist and Friends of the Earth ‘Nature’s Keeper.’ KEEPERS England Jazz (@ketibuahfoley) / Twitter
Maria Adebowale-Schwarte Living Space Project
Maria is the Founding Director of Living Space Project, a social enterprise working to create inclusive places in diverse urban neighbourhoods. Maria also holds a number of other posts including commissioner for the London Sustainable Development Commission and English Heritage, Board member for Environment Agency and an ambassador for WEN.
Judy Ling Wong Artist and Environmental Activist
Judy founded the Black Environment Network in 1987 and continues to be a major voice on policy towards social inclusion. In 2000, Judy was honoured with an OBE for pioneering ethnic minority environmental participation, and in 2007 a CBE followed, for services to heritage. She became a professional artist at age 12 and is the first woman in Chinese history to be Master of the 3 Arts.
Check out these international heroes from history and the present day
1854 – 1943 George Washington Carver, Founder of biomimicry in agriculture
1936 – Dr. Warren Washington, Leader in atmospheric science and climate change
1936 – David Suzuki, Zoologist and environmental activist
1940 – 2011 Wangari Maathai, Leader in environmental conservation and human rights
1941 – Dai Qing, Journalist and environmentalist
1944 – 1988 Chico Mendes, Environmental activist and champion of nature and indigenous rights
1946 – Dr Robert Bullard, Father of Environmental justice
1952 – Vandana Shiva, Environmental sustainability pioneer and anti-globalisation activist
1961 – Sunita Narain, Environmentalist and proponent of sustainable development
5. And if you’re still reading, thank you, and here are some links well worth checking out
· Inspiring Scientists – Diversity in British Science | Royal Society
· Black Scientists & Inventors in the UK:Millenniums of Inventions & Innovations (Book 5): Amazon.co.uk: Michael Williams, Manyonyi Amalemba: 9781903289273: Books
· Climate justice is a black and white issue – so why isn’t the environmentalist movement? | Lacuna Magazine
· Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers
Photograph from https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/stories/helping-all-young-people-get-hands-nature