#CCL2016 breakout preview: Climate Justice; Climate and Faith; Climate and Public Health
By Ryan Wolf
Though we are only five months into 2016, this year has already seen the issues of economic justice at the forefront of the U.S. presidential race and vector-borne illnesses, such as Zika virus, at the center of attention for many international organizations like the World Health Organization. In June, offerings for breakout sessions at the 7th Annual Conference promise to not only provide important details to inform our understanding of the impacts of climate change, but also provide insight into the factors influencing and the developments behind these recent national and international events.
These sessions are not only valuable for the informative content that will be provided but also for the diversity in the backgrounds of the speakers who are confirmed. From a medical doctor concerned with the link between climate change and public health to an Episcopal priest bridging the gap between climate science and faith, the variety among the 2016 conference speakers promises to offer something for everyone. In fact, attendees will likely want to hear from more speakers than they will have time for! That’s where bringing many volunteers from your chapter comes in handy – you can divide and conquer many breakout sessions and then have a debrief session in your chapter post-conference to share important information presented.
The “Climate Justice” session, featuring, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, will focus on how climate change impacts more disadvantaged communities. Throughout her career, Jacqui has been an advocate for environmental justice policies and ideas, with her publications including the articles titled “Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue,” “Disasters, Climate Change Uproot Women of Color,” and “Coal Blooded; Putting Profits Before People.” At the NAACP, Jacqui leads a department that strives to protect those most vulnerable to climate change, including low income and minority communities, and promote policies that would address ill-advised practices that continue to harm communities.
In a conversation with the Huffington Post, Jacqui addressed this departmental mission by noting, “A lot of the folks who are active on [climate change] are not necessarily linking with the communities that are most affected by climate change, so we really saw that there was a gap and a need.”
With a master’s degree in public health from John Hopkins University, as well as a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland, Jacqui has shown her lifelong commitment to pursuing justice and helping those most in need. Khalil Shahyd of the Urban Solutions Program with the NRDC and a representative from UNICEF, will join Jacqui on this panel.
Climate and Faith
The “Climate and Faith” breakout session, focusing on how faith communities view the responsibility for stewardship of our environment, will include Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Ph.D. Rev. Margaret is an Episcopal priest and currently serves as Missioner for Creation Care for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ. Having been an environmental activist for over 20 years, Rev. Margaret has linked religion and climate for countless individuals. In 1989, for example, Rev. Margaret delivered an unprecedented sermon by preaching the need for eco-conversion or the process where humans place the care of the earth at the center of their concerns. As a founding member of the Massachusetts Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action and a practitioner of peaceful civil disobedience to protest climate change, Rev. Margaret has served as an example of climate leadership to the religious community.
On her philosophy behind her work on climate change, speaking to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, she stated, “The gift of being alive at this particular moment in history is we have a chance to make a difference, to change course, to protect the whole web of life which is presently unraveling.”
Climate and Health
On the public health front, conference attendees will have the opportunity to hear highly esteemed Dr. Jonathan Patz. As the Director of the Global Health Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Patz has made a career out of carefully observing the consequences of climate change and was a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 15 years. As an academic, Patz has published over 90 scholarly papers, briefed the United States Congress on the link between climate change and public health, and has written a detailed textbook on the subject. Dr. Patz will not only be a panelist for the Climate and Public Health session, but will also be leading a brief plenary session on the morning of June 20th.
In a Huffington Post article Dr. Patz wrote, “Climate-sensitive diseases may threaten the poorest countries first; yet in a globalized world, an increase in disease anywhere, can eventually reach everywhere”.
These numerous speakers (over 70!) featured at our conference go beyond the current news and will provide a deep dive of the most pressing issues surrounding climate change in 2016. To keep up to date on these breakout session topics and speakers, as well as the plenary sessions, you can visit the Conference homepage or download our conference program App for iPhone and Android. To download the app, go to the Store and search for Grenadine Event Guide, open the App, and then input this code when prompted: ccl2016.