2023 comes to a close with much inspiration, sorrow, mourning, celebration, clarity and a keen anticipation of what lies ahead. At the Just Transition Alliance’s year-end strategy retreat in Madison, WI, we reflected on this year’s achievements and assessed challenges and opportunities headed our way. Here are some highlights we wanted to share with you:
JTA at the Social Justice Center in Madison, WI. Photo credit: Michael Green
In 2023 we built relational alignment, mutuality and solidarity between our allied Houses of Labor and Environmental Justice (EJ).
We facilitated alignment between waste workers and EJ groups on the issues of plastics pollution and waste, including:
- With Filipino waste workers affiliated with the Mother Earth Foundation.
- Helping members of the International Alliance of Waste Picker unions (IAWP), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Break Free From Plastics (BFFP) to develop strategies to tackle plastics-petrochemical industries.
- Working with IAWP leaders at the Global Plastics Treaty talks in Paris and Nairobi, learning about labor’s role in cleaning up plastics pollution.
Just Transition Alliance and Alliance of International Waste Pickers join forces in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo credit: PSR-LA
In April, we launched our just transition organizer training program “Tools for Transformative Change” with a training of trainers for veteran organizers from allied unions and EJ groups. In 2024, we will train labor-community coalitions across the US to advance local campaigns for a people’s economy, fight corporate climate schemes, and engage opportunities like the Green New Deal and Justice40.
JTA training of trainers at the Washington State Labor Council in Seattle. Photo credit: José Bravo
We deepened relations with the Labor Network for Sustainability to collaboratively bridge the massive, racialized divide that continues to exist between the House of Labor and Black, Brown, Indigenous, Migrant and Poor communities across the US.
We strengthened EJ strategies with sister alliances and movement partners.
On invitation by Global Grassroots Justice Alliance and La Via Campesina, JTA joined the Nyeleni process in Italy this summer – a mobilization to transform the global system to serve economic, social, gender, race, climate and environmental justice.
As co-founders of the Climate Justice Alliance, we joined the CJA Member Assembly at Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis in August, helping lead strategic discussion on ways to fight the $billions of federal false solutions subsidies in 2024.
Climate Justice Alliance Member Assembly at the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis. Photo credit: CJA
This Fall, Edgar Franks of Familias Unidas por La Justicia (FUJ), represented JTA at a gathering of Movimiento de Afectados por Represas in Colombia, where he observed “Latin American movements have begun to examine the larger, globalized systems driving mega-dams, biofuels and rare-earth mining across the land. It was fascinating to discuss how capitalism relies on such dirty energy systems as its life-source, and how organizing energy democracy provides a movement-wide strategy for dismantling these systems of greed, theft and hoarding.”
In September we reconnected with Building Equity and Alignment for Environmental Justice (BEA) – another initiative we co-founded. It was heartwarming to learn that, over the past decade, the BEA initiative has been able to move $millions to support some of the poorest, yet most powerful community-led forces across the landscape.
JTA continued to help allies intervene at international policy arenas
This year Jose attended the Bonn “Intersessional” and, along with numerous allies, demanded the UNFCCC stop allowing the world’s worst polluters to hijack the process. While we avoided COP 28, we supported comrades of our It Takes Roots coalition – Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Climate Action and Climate Justice Alliance with communications and logistics. Many allied movements decided to boycott COP 28, in protest of the UN’s inability to respond to Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.
José and the Kick Big Polluters Out Coalition called for an end to fossil fuels at SB58. Photo credit: KBPO
José spoke at Peoples’ Climate Week in NYC, to disrupt the promotion of climate false solutions. At the March to End Fossil Fuels, our Hoodwinked Collaborative team distributed over 1000+ Hoodwinked books to educate the broader climate movement on these corporate climate scams.
We engaged in the UN Global Plastics Treaty talks to help shape a binding agreement to reduce plastic pollution worldwide. At INC 3, we took a delegation of grassroots leaders from the EJ Communities Against Plastics (EJCAP) coalition, to collaborate with numerous allies like GAIA, IAWP and BFFP to advance an EJ and just transition agenda at these talks.
Indigenous Community Leaders from Break Free From Plastics. Photo credit: BFFP
At all these policy arenas we continued to lead the fight against false solutions with other members of the Hoodwinked Collaborative. We hosted livestream webinars such as “Celebrating Youth Climate Organizers” and “Mothering Through Climate Crisis,” shared popular education tools on “Nature-based Solutions,” and worked with allies to issue a statement denouncing carbon trading and offsets.
As always, we stepped up to serve EJ communities on the frontlines of struggle and action.
We rallied with community members and farmworkers in Commerce, CA to support the Campaign for Healthier Solutions’ action against the 99 Cents Only chain, and forced the company to enter ongoing dialogue with the campaign regarding the development of a corporate chemical policy.
JTA at the Campaign for Healthier Solutions’ action against 99 Cents Only Stores in Commerce, CA. Photo credit: CHS
We supported partners like Familias Unidas por la Justicia, Comunidades Aliadas Tomando Acción and the Indigenous Caucus of the Western Mining Action Network, to access funding opportunities for their community-based work.
We ended our year with an excellent strategy session with Environmental Justice Communities Against Plastic (EJCAP) in South LA. EJCAP is one of the first community-led coalitions on Turtle Island (so-called North America) to work on advancing environmental justice policies and strategies to tackle the growing plastics-petrochemical crisis.
Looking forward to 2024
As we witness genocide and ethnic cleansing intensify, and start to see how this horror is driven by the escalation of racialized colonial greed and plunder around the world, here are some reflections to help guide collective strategy and stance in 2024:
As veteran organizers, we see the urgent need to train up new generations of leaders with embodied knowledge and organizing skills. We need to curate new tools to help our organizers practice collective self-care at the intersection of historic trauma and systemic oppression, learning how to collectively heal and care for each other while learning how to fight.
Where colonial extractivism has won support from the neoliberal policy arenas of the UN, we need to recalibrate our strategies to engage these spaces, while concentrating efforts to build our own places of power and self-governance.
Looking ahead to the US federal elections of 2024, it is clear we need to organize alignment and power around some contentious and complex issues, like policy subsidies that sustain dirty energy and military industry …this is where JTA’s leadership in building between Labor and Environmental Justice is needed more urgently than ever before.