Environmental racism – a statement from the Anglican Communion Environmental Network

24 June 2020

“Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter” - Members of the community of the Anglican Cathedral of the Resurrection in Brasilia kneel in solidarity and protest. 8.6.2020. Image: Andrea Valente, Cathedral of Resurrection, Anglican Diocese of Brasilia, Brazil.

“The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action Black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees. We stand at a Kairos moment – in order to fight environmental injustice, we must also fight racial injustice.” ACEN statement on environmental racism, 19 June 2020

On June 19th, a day known as Juneteenth in the United States to commemorate the official end of slavery there in 1865, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) issued an urgent statement on environmental racism, which shines a light on the connections between racial injustice and climate injustice. The impacts of environmental racism on indigenous people are particularly highlighted.

The statement is also a call to concrete action with signatories committing to: listening to voices of indigenous people; recognising and challenging white privilege in society and the Church; recognising the colonial past of the Anglican Communion, its ongoing Euro-centric values and the dominance of English; identifying the need for further study and active listening around issues of racism; recognising and challenging theological ideologies and social norms that perpetuate racism; acting in solidarity with vulnerable populations experiencing eco-injustice by actions such as advocacy for policy change at national and regional levels, nonviolent protest and boycotts; acting as a mediator between indigenous people and farmers or extractive industries, understanding the legal frameworks involved.

Already, eight primates and a further fifty bishops from every part of the Anglican Communion have signed the document, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several of the signatories also contributed to the document with examples from their own contexts of the interplay between racial and environmental injustices. One such was Archbishop Julio Murray, Primate of the Anglican Church of Central America, who brings leadership in the Communion on environmental justice and attended the UN climate talks in Madrid (COP26) last December.  He is also a trustee of the Anglican Alliance.

Archbishop Julio writes, “The challenging times in which we live call for concrete actions of solidarity against all types of injustice.  Let us join together as a sign of what we are working for and what God has promised: ‘new heavens and new earth, where justice will rule’ 2 Peter 3:13.

“Our hope is to start re-imagining what the new reality can look like. May this statement be another step in the right direction.”

The ACEN statement is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The Anglican Alliance participates in ACEN and actively endorses this statement.