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For Afro-descendant communities across the Americas and the Caribbean, the climate crisis looms disproportionately large. An uptick in extreme, devastating weather events in the last decade has upended coastal Afro-descendant communities, with major hurricanes damaging homes, crippling food and water supplies and disrupting livelihoods from Colombia to the Carolinas. Down the road, increasing volatility in precipitation and temperature could also have permanent negative consequences — exacerbating the conditions to which these already vulnerable communities are exposed.
Because they live in areas of strategic environmental importance — like carbon-rich coastal areas, mangroves and tropical forests — Afro-descendant communities are also in a unique position to lead and create solutions to the climate crisis, as well as address the interconnected crises of biodiversity loss, inequity and socioeconomic exclusion, drug trafficking, migration and violence.
However, these communities’ voices remain absent at the regional, national and global levels when it comes to debate and decision-making about the environment, climate change and nature conservation.
“It is fundamental and critical that decisions made at the international and national levels feature the voices, policy priorities and world views of Afro-descendent communities across the Americas. We are excited to advance this work in this critical time for racial and environmental justice, climate action and resilience planning.”
— Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia, Colombian Ambassador to the United States.
Co-developed by Afro-descendant leaders from throughout the Americas, the Afro-InterAmerican Forum on Climate Change (AIFCC or the Forum) provides greater visibility to the challenges Afro-descendant leaders face in addressing significant environmental issues, including climate risks and biodiversity loss and their contributions to the stewardship of areas of critical environmental importance and their global environmental services. The Forum will provide on-the-ground resources for Afro-descendant communities to engage in this work via research and community innovation projects via sub-regional hubs. It will also provide the international platform to allow leaders to influence policies and major decisions at the international, national and regional scales. Through this work, the AIFCC will create a major impact, including a common narrative, a call to action, the co-creation of knowledge with communities, and financial support for Afro-descendant populations on climate change issues. Through these activities, the Forum will advance environmental and racial justice.
Formally announced at the U.N. climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the AIFCC will be a centralized group of Afro-descendant leaders from across the Americas. The first meeting was convened by Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia, Colombian Ambassador to the United States; Epsy Campbell, Vice President of Costa Rica; Kelvin Alie, Senior Vice President at Conservation International; and U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks. Supporting these leaders and others, MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) and Conservation International provide technical guidance to the AIFCC.
The AIFCC works in three areas:
To learn more or get involved with the initiative, please contact Marcela Angel, Research Program Director at MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (email@example.com) or Kelvin Alie, Senior Vice President Field Partnerships at Conservation International (firstname.lastname@example.org).