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Climate Change

Mililani Trask: Indigenous Views

Mililani B. Trask is a native Hawaiian attorney and expert in international human rights law. She is a founding member of the Indigenous Womens Network and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii and the International Training Center for Indigenous Peoples, in Greenland. She is one of the primary drafters of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which passed the UN General Assembly in 2007, and served as the Pacific Indigenous Representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She served two four-year terms as Kia Aina (Prime Minister) of Ka Lahui Hawaii, the Sovereign Hawaiian Nation. 

How do you see climate change impacting indigenous island peoples’ subsistence and health?
Indigenous peoples' livelihoods and their cultural survival are being directly threatened. For example, the Pacific island states are experiencing significant increases in the frequency of cyclones and storm surges, which destroy housing, roads, hospitals, and telecommunications systems. They are causing countless deaths and people go missing and are never found. In the past two years, Samoa, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, [and the Philippines] have all declared national disasters. In Fiji, the total sugarcane crop was lost and major damage done to schools and hospitals. The vast majority of people in the Pacific basin live within 1.5 kilometers of the ocean. 

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Just Climate Policy —Just Racial Policy

Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of climate change confront us. One of the most serious environmental threats facing the world today, climate change, has moved from the realm of scientists and environmentalists to the mainstream. Though the media is dominated by images of polar bears, melting glaciers, flooded lands, and arid deserts, there is a human face to this story as well.

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Carmen Rojas—Voices of Climate Justice

Voices of Climate Justice

As we see a concerted push by local service providers, community organizers, and think tanks to link their work to larger efforts that impact city, state, and national climate change policy, it is crucial that foundations step up as partners and allies in this work. In city after city, it is clear that movement building for policy change builds the power of low-income communities of color to have a stake and a voice in the political and economic processes that shape their lives. Too often, environmental grant makers shirk their responsibility to address the issues affecting these communities, which are disproportionately impacted by issues of pollution and waste, food access and quality of life, and employment and sustainability. This is a call for a new moment in grant making and charitable giving. centered on partnership, solidarity, and movement building.

As someone new to the field of philanthropy, I am consistently disappointed by the often cited issue of capacity used to explain why certain grantees are funded while others remain under resourced. Capacity has come to replace the concept of risky and is overwhelmingly used to describe community-based organizations working in low-income communities and communities of color and led by committed leaders of color. If there is a capacity issue with an organization in one of our communities, the Mitchell Kapor Foundation understands that it is our responsibility to step up and provide the necessary resources to these organizations and work in partnership with them to make the change we hope to see in the world.

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