If you want to go far……
In February, more than 178 nations came together to adopt a mandate to negotiate an ambitious, binding, and comprehensive treaty to confront the toxic pollution created by every stage of the plastics lifecycle. As the CIEL team burst into applause along with the hundreds of other delegates in the room, we were celebrating a moment made possible by the collective work of tens of thousands of people in hundreds of organizations in countries around the world. To deliver on the ambition of that mandate, it will take all of those people and more working together and more importantly, working for each other and not just for the treaty. That is the heart and essence of solidarity, and we’ve seen it play out again and again over the critical moments of the last year.
Indeed, even as delegates in Nairobi were negotiating the plastics resolution, the world was confronted with the horror and outrage of Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine. In the critical hours and days after that invasion, CIEL staff mobilized rapidly to help support a growing and urgent movement in solidarity with the people of Ukraine – from supporting the Stand with Ukraine website that brought together hundreds of organizations calling for an end to Putin’s fossil-fueled war, to organizing more than a thousand lawyers and peacebuilding experts to warn against the profound environmental risks of the invasion and highlight the deep links between the fossil economy and global insecurity.
As I write these words, the struggle to restore Ukraine’s autonomy and, critically, to stop Europe’s race to expand fossil infrastructure to fill the gap left by Russian oil and gas, is ongoing. But endurance and commitment lie at the very heart of solidarity. Nowhere is this clearer than in the UN General Assembly (UNGA)’s vote this July to recognize the fundamental human right to a clean, sustainable, and healthy environment. The UNGA’s decision is the latest historic milestone in a campaign that CIEL and our partners around the world have carried on for more than thirty years. But its success wouldn’t have been possible without the thousands of organizations and more than a million people worldwide who raised their voices together to demand its recognition.
That solidarity, that diversity, that collaboration lies at the heart of power and is always at the leading edge of change. But solidarity brings with it the profound responsibility to stand with partners not only when it’s easy and not only when you’re winning, but also when the choices and challenges are difficult, and the consequences complex.
Because we face significant challenges and real backsliding. Only a month after the world celebrated the recognition of the right to a healthy environment, the US government pushed through a massive law that threatens to compromise that right for environmental justice communities across the country under the ironic guise of climate action.
In the United States and around the world, such communities are at the epicenter of the converging and intersecting planetary crises – climate change, toxic pollution, biodiversity loss. And they are the frontline leaders in our shared fight to confront, halt, and ultimately reverse those crises. Making real progress at the scale and speed needed will demand that we recognize, support, and follow that leadership. Not only in our work against fossil fuels, but also the critical and essential work to transform the entire fossil economy.
For all the progress we’ve made, we have an extraordinary distance still to go and far too little time to travel it. We can only do so together.
In mutual support.
President & CEO