Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 has come to a close. We were so honored to participate in the event as well as the advisory group that worked behind the scenes to bring the conference together this year. The topic of diversity, equity and inclusion in ocean conservation work was overdue and brought forward so many important conversations.
We wanted to share our takeaways from the conference with you here. The most impactful takeaway for us this week was the reminder that we do this work not to be able to center ourselves in it, but to care for the earth and all those who call it home. We should care for God’s creation because it is our responsibility and honor, not for our own pride. When we remove our ego from our work, we are better able to hear other’s wisdom and knowledge, as well as look within ourselves to see the ways in which we have contributed to systems of oppression.
There are many communities that sit on the front lines of the climate crisis that have been the victims of oppression for far too long and those communities have so much to contribute to the climate crisis conversation. We are at a crossroads where we as a conservation community can reflect and adapt new ways of working for creation, or we can continue to perpetuate systems that are harmful to all of God’s creation. Some of the ways in which we can move forward with everyone included are to fund more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. These communities often lack access to grants, resources, and technology to combat the climate crisis. We also need to look at how we measure success. Success should be everyone fed, with access to all the resources a human needs to live. This metric may not come with data points like we are used to or a GDP scale of proof. It will come instead from building relationships with each other and from trusting each other enough to be honest with each other.
Eugenio Piñeiro-Soler had the quote of the conference, “Fish don’t have passports.” When we have built trust between our communities we will be enabled to discuss the ways in which our conservation work intersects with other work. We will be able to engage in cross state collaborations for conservation, and we will be able to have longer study periods to find the answers we are looking for.
Lastly, we must take our blinders off. It is time to acknowledge that academic science has prevented many peoples from being included in conversations where their wisdom, knowledge, and traditional science will make a world of difference. Ilarion ‘Kuuyux’ Merculieff shared the ways in which indigenous knowledge can be a huge benefit to western science. As Merculieff answered questions, he told stories. Each story contained decades of data and intersectional observations of how nature changes as a whole. This traditional science looks different, and it may sound different, but that does not discount it from being knowledge that could change this fight against climate change.
Creation Justice Ministries is excited to move forward with these news takeaways. We are working on implementing equity as an organizational focus and we are centering it in our partnerships. Thank you for partnering with us as we move forward, working for a better ocean for all of God’s creation.
Helen Smith, Ocean Climate Action Associate
P.S. If you weren’t able to attend the conference you can watch the Creation Justice webinar here and access the recordings of the panels here.
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.