Hello LEN Community,
We are very excited to share that a number of groups focused on land and environmental justice are working together to provide more shared learning and collective action for network members related to land and environmental justice.
Since October 2021, twenty leading grassroots land and environmental justice organizations from across the Legal Empowerment Network (the LEJ Core group), have begun convening to find ways to amplify and improve our impact. This is part of the network’s effort to add ways to share thematically in addition to regionally. We found that we have a lot in common, seeing how communities are struggling for power over their land and environment.
Motivated by a joint commitment to finding ways for communities most impacted by environmental harm to be leaders in creating solutions, the groups have identified areas for shared learning and collective action.
- Shared Learning: Areas where members of the LEJ Core group will create opportunities for grassroots legal empowerment organizations and communities to share knowledge and experiences:
Protection and security: Led by YLBHI and ProDesc, we will be creating ways to share how organizations are making sure information and protocols for protection and security are reaching all levels of a legal empowerment organization
Supporting communities responding to investments by Chinese companies: Led by a number of organizations, including FIMA, DAR, ZELA, and Namati’s Sierra Leone Office, this group plans to create space to share practical ways communities have constructively responded to investments by some Chinese companies
FPIC implementation: This group will use an online sharing platform to pull together resources around specific barriers to FPIC implementation communities face and tactics communities have found successful
- Collective Action: Creating a joint campaign related to supporting community control over land that they own and use. The campaign aims to win policy changes at local, regional, and global levels, and generate more investments in grassroots environmental justice efforts.
What’s the impossible thing we can make possible together?
It is clear that it is not just enough for us to learn from each other. We are facing urgent and systematic problems - like the climate crisis and corporate colonialism - that require a collective response. Members of the LEJ Core group have been imagining together a movement that would mobilize the power of frontline, impacted communities to change how the power of communities is recognized in decisions about land, air and water.
We believe that the fight to protect our planet needs empowered, impacted communities. Organized communities with knowledge of the law are our first line of defense against climate change - and our best hope for a new economy that will sustain us all.
What has happened on the local level, place by place needs to be amplified on a global level. Legal empowerment is about making sure that the people directly impacted have access to the law and organizing power to confront injustices where they are. Because environmental injustice is wrapped up in global systems, we want to build more ways for directly impacted people to also be able to have global influence as part of confronting their injustice. By coming together across our specific contexts and working as a united movement, we can overcome stark power imbalances and can win new norms.
What will we be fighting for?
Overall, we’re fighting for communities that have been usually harmed or marginalized to have a say over what happens in and on the land that they own and use. This means that when a new investment takes place, communities are consulted in ways that match their practices, are given full access to information, and are able to say yes or no to a project. During an investment, it means that what communities monitor to be happening is data that is valued by companies and the government. That people in the community who speak up about their conditions are safe. And when communities want it, they are at the front of the line for investments from the new green economy.
This will be a fight at the local, national, regional, and international level. We envision a movement that supports and brings attention to local fights when appropriate. We also are working towards having a few global targets where we can direct our collective energy.
Next Step: Consulting conversations
While members of the LEJ Core see a lot of synergy in their struggles across the globe, we want to build this movement together. At this early stage, we want to check with other grassroots organizations and the communities they represent about the concept of this movement, how to stay connected with it, and what collective action would look like for them. We hope to have another round of conversations before the end of the year, once more clear targets are defined.
We hope that these conversations will build power and confidence within communities as they see that their struggles are linked to others around the world. We hope that this will provide strength and solidarity for those who participate. Ideally, it will also help them reflect on the work they are doing and give them insight to other tools or approaches.
Please put your thoughts and questions below in response to this post and/or join us at these upcoming community cafes where we want to hear more from you about how you think we can best bring the power of legal empowerment to have global influence on land and environmental justice:
New dates to be determined shortly!
Looking forward to continuing these discussions!