the big Nature NGOs and race experts from minority ethnic communities to find out what the issues were. It highlighted a wide range, from not having appropriate outdoor clothing to a feeling that being in the countryside put visible minority ethnic people at risk of hate crime. Everyone worked together to find ways to overcome these barriers and produced a list of action points. As a result, I set up the not-for-profit Black2Nature to campaign for visible minority ethnic people to have equal access to Nature – in the same way that we should all have equal access to health care and education.
In October 2019 I ran a second conference, to look at the action needed to get young minority ethnic people working in the sector. My first proposal was that there should be zero tolerance to racism and that calling it out should be encouraged and supported. My second was that environmentalists need to acknowledge that almost all those in their sector, as white British people, have benefited from racism in our society, because it has given them privileges over minority ethnic people.
It’s a frustrating picture, but things are changing. Some organisations are thinking about diversity and taking action such as training staff. The next steps are to make diversity a core value, employ visible minority ethnic people to coordinate projects geared towards their demographic, and form mutually respectful partnerships with like-minded organisations that have expertise in their communities.
If the environmental sector fails to become ethnically diverse, it fails to bring on board an increasingly large section of our society. It will not have the widespread support it needs to stop climate breakdown, create sustainable cities or save the million species that are predicted to become extinct. We have to engage everyone in our society if we are to succeed in turning the tide of the environmental crisis.
Mya-Rose Craig is a naturalist, conservationist and environmentalist. She is president of Black2Nature and blogs as birdgirl. birdgirluk.blogspot.com
Photograph by Oliver Edwards for The Scouts
Resurgence & Ecologist