Justin is a 4th generation Detroiter and environmental justice organizer for the Sierra Club. As a Detroit based organizer he fights for clean air, clean and affordable water and a just economy for all communities. This has included advocating for city ordinances that protect drinking water, securing funds for communities in need of air filtration systems, and working with local unions to fight for a just transition. He currently serves as the youngest member on the Inaugural Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice under the direction of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and was also recently appointed to the Democratic National Committee’s Environment and Climate Crisis Council Platform Committee where he is one of 12 nationwide members responsible for helping develop recommendations for the climate, environment and energy planks of the 2020 Democratic Party Platform.
"Connecting the dots: Evaluating Global, National and Local Challenges and Opportunities in the Fight for Environmental Justice" by Justin Onwenu
If we hope to address some of the most profound challenges of our time: climate change, environmental injustice and public health disparities, we must develop new approaches that recognize the interconnectedness of these challenges on a global, national, and local scale.
Whether it be understanding the impact of climate change on public health at a global scale, understanding the role of natural disasters in exacerbating existing inequalities at a national scale, or understanding the relationship between water shutoffs and local polluting industries on the health of Detroit residents, we must break out of silos to better understand how these issues relate. After connecting the dots, we must learn how to build public support and the coalitions needed to address these issues.
Academic pursuits, policy research and community organizing are all powerful tools that must be used if we hope to take on these challenges at any scale.
Whether you are well versed in the environmental justice movement or not, in his presentation “Connecting the dots: evaluating global, national and local challenges and opportunities in the environmental justice movement” Justin hopes to provide meaningful framework that will guide change agents in how to think about, talk about and fight for environmental justice at a number of different scales.
Attendees will walk away with a deep understanding of how widespread and urgent the environmental justice crisis is, a sense of hope and mission in addressing this crisis, and tools to do so in an intersectional and inclusive manner.