The past two years have seen crisis after crisis in the UK, from the Covid pandemic to the current cost of living meltdown. Dire headlines surround us warning of the next calamity, and the rolling news cycle keeps us on the edge of our seats. Where will the next disaster loom from?
Against this backdrop, the two most serious issues which face us as a species often go unnoticed. They are, of course, the climate crisis which threatens to leave us with no viable habitat; and the global poverty crisis which despite well-meaning platitudes over decades continues to shame us all.
Scotland is a nation which prides itself on punching above its weight in terms of social responsibility. Yet even here it can be easy to be distracted from the sheer scale of the problems we face.
The building blocks for recovery are at our disposal. Scotland has the natural capacity and social leadership to provide an example to the world - if we have the will. And we are blessed with hundreds of hands-on, grassroots projects and organisations who are doing incredible work to try to avert environmental catastrophe. Many of these groups are from ethnic minority communities, who have friends, families and colleagues working in parts of the world already feeling the sharp end of the climate crisis.
It's into this landscape that the Ethnic Minority Environmental Network has been launched. EMEN aims to give a platform to amplify the voices of under-represented groups in the environmental sector, and to harness their skills and experience to contribute to Scotland’s climate fight.
There is a perception in some circles that ethnic minority groups don’t care about the climate crisis. This stereotype ignores the unseen barriers to participation which many of us from ethnic minority backgrounds face. In fact, if our experience is anything to go by, ethnic minority groups are often more engaged in climate issues than their white counterparts, precisely because the impact of climate change is part of their lived experience.
EMEN aims to bring groups from ethnic minority backgrounds working in the environmental sector together, to offer a platform for them to share ideas and best practice, and ultimately to amplify their voices in what can be a noisy landscape. Currently, we do this through our fortnightly newsletter, social media channels, and in-person events, but we hope to expand the reach of EMEN over the months to include a podcast series, policy work, and a conference.
We recognise that the fight against the climate crisis affects us all. EMEN is not an exclusive club – we want everyone, no matter what their background, to contribute, because everyone has something to offer. Whether you’re volunteering at a community garden, or the CEO of a mainstream environmental charity, EMEN is a space to learn, to share, and to grow.
We would love you to get involved in EMEN, the Ethnic Minority Environmental Network – here’s how: check out our new website at www.theemennetwork.com and sign up to our newsletter; follow us on our Twitter channel; get in touch with us to suggest contacts, collaborations, or projects we should know more about.
Andrew Williams is environmental projects co-ordinator for CEMVO Scotland.