The Global Environmental Health & Justice Fund
In the United States, the environment is sometimes portrayed as an issue that matters mostly to the affluent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dangerous, polluting factories are not built in Beverly Hills, but in poor neighborhoods in Baton Rouge, LA, Brownsville, TX, and Roxbury, MA. People who live in the rich suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa do not worry about access to clean water. People living in the slums of Soweto do.
Today, the front lines of environmental action are in communities of the poor, the working class and people of color all over the world.
The U.S. Program
New World has supported the movement for environmental justice for more than a decade, focusing on communities calling for clean-ups; urban health activists concerned about soaring asthma rates; unions demanding better workplace health and safety; Native Americans fighting for sovereignty and land rights; farm workers exposing the dangers of pesticides; and many others.
In addition, New World supports the networks that link local, immediate concerns to larger issues of social justice, racial equality, economic development, and political power. Activists all over America are fighting the same corporate polluters and negligent regulators—and are learning they must work together in order to win.
Now a Global Program
In forming the Global Environmental Health and Justice Fund, New World and its funding partners are making a parallel commitment to environmental justice and health activists outside the U.S. The Fund has made grants to frontline organizations in eight countries —Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, India, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines—and is exploring possibilities for further expansion.
The Fund supports both anchor organizations and the emerging networks that bring groups from different countries together against common polluters, dangerous industries, and government complicity or inaction.
For instance, one grantee helped bring 120 anti-incinerator activists from 30 countries together in Penang, Malaysia, to discuss not only how to prevent incinerators being built in their communities, but to explore alterative solutions. The Fund also supported a grassroots network that that spurred community activists from five countries to confront Shell Oil at its annual shareholder meeting in London in May 2003.
The Fund supports environmental justice organizations committed to on-the-ground organizing, democratic participation, leadership development, alliance building, a broad vision of social change and inclusive movement building.
Relatively small increases in funding will enable many existing organizations to continue building their grassroots base and expand their alliances, while also going on the offensive with corporate and political campaigns that promote permanent solutions, sustainable economies, and democratic accountability.
This is a movement coming of age, poised to begin acting on a global scale to demand systemic change.
Funder Education and Outreach
In addition to supporting frontline activism, the Environmental Health & Justice Fund also aims to introduce new funders to both issues and activists through educational workshops based on global analysis and practitioner perspectives.
We work closely with kindred foundations in developing grantmaking with a movement-building framework, and welcome opportunities to pool resources for greater collective impact.
For more information contact, Heeten Kalan.