“Environmental justice is social justice” – human rights organisations together for the environment!

Environmental justice is social justice – we are here to acknowledge the impact of environmental concerns in Malta on the lives of individuals, families and communities. We must enter into serious public debate on issues of environment in order to build trust, and establish cooperation between different sectors in society that are currently estranged. This press conference, which includes voices from a variety of groups and organizations, recognizes how social justice issues intersect and transcend rigid categorization. It is testament to the growing sense of urgency experienced in our islands on matters of ecological importance.

Human mistreatment of the environment is no different from the unjust exercise of power experienced by vulnerable groups around the world. When human beings abuse of power, environmental degradation inevitably follows. This is no different from the exploitation of other forms of power and privilege – including men over women, cisgender people over transgender people, the able-bodied over people with disabilities, native Maltese over refugees and migrants. The wheels of oppression turn, and continue to trample over people and over our environment.

It is the work of social justice to ensure that each one of us may live free from domination and subordination. The natural environment is essential to the realization of basic human rights; failure to protect our environment then, amounts to the failure to protect these rights. Issues of environment are inextricably linked to these larger questions, the answers to which must involve a more holistic approach to environmental justice and social justice. As Gandhi said, the Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed.

But let us be clear. The biggest threat to our environment is not the political elite – of any colour, political persuasion or financial clout. The biggest threat to our environment is the belief that someone else will take a stand to protect it. Today we stand in solidarity; we call for the preservation of our environment for us, and for future generations. This is our responsibility and our duty. And it is the responsibility and duty of all parliamentarians to listen to the voice of the people. Environmental rights are internationally recognized fundamental human rights, and we ask for our right to good governance. Together, we call for the citizens of this country to be actively engaged in environmental awareness and preservation. To this end, we must draw attention to the vital need for sustained political will, in response to the growing concerns of the population.

Statement by the below organisations, joining several others:

Gender Liberation, Integra Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM) Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, aditus foundation, and The Critical Institute.

For coverage and a list of other organisations see here.