Tuesday gave us the opportunity to meet with three different organizations that are connected to human rights advocacy: Global Giving, the EPA Office of Environmental Justice & External Civil Rights, and the White House Environmental Justice Council.
Global Giving gave us an inside look at the intricate and often-complicated paths of funding behind humanitarian support around the world. This organization, founded in 2002, is a complex operation that prioritizes channeling financial support from donors to small, on-the-ground, non-profit organizations that are led by members of the very same communities that are most impacted by human rights issues whether it be natural disaster, war and persecution, political unrest, displacement, famine, gender violence, or any other impactful global situations impacting access to resources that grant any given community access to basic human rights as outlined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their philosophy to empower local, community-based leaders is founded in the philosophy that community-led efforts are agile, connected, flexible, and most importantly: they know what the true needs of their community are. Special thanks to our hosts at Global Giving, Jenny and Caroline, for spending so much time with us answering questions. A particular highlight of this visit was watching a clip from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight that highlighted Global Giving’s participation in a fundraising effort to support efforts in Belarus to fight for democracy.
In our afternoon visits to the EPA OEJECR and the White House EJC, we were able to hear about how these two organizations are placing human rights at the center of science-based environmental work. We heard about the connection between the higher likelihood for marginalized communities to be in closer contact with higher levels of toxins, pollution, and industrial waste, and how communities with higher financial resources are more likely to have the ability to access legal support and political power to keep these kinds of hazards away from their homes and businesses. It was uplifting to hear about the work being done by these organizations to hold other governmental agencies accountable for actions that could potentially have a marginalizing and harmful impact on already-historically-discriminated communities.
While the information we are exploring can be heavy, the flip side is hearing about the amazing work being done to combat injustice and uplift human rights for all; regardless of who they are, where they are born, what they look like, how much access to financial resources they have. Every human deserves basic human rights, and we are all feeling uplifted by the good work of these and many other organizations!