This Spring, Green Leadership Trust held it’s 5th Annual Environmental Leadership Convening in Puerto Rico. Moved by the crisis facing Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we chose this location because it is a humanitarian crisis happening on our watch with serious and long-lasting environmental consequences. Our time in Puerto Rico was an opportunity to learn directly from leaders on the ground, support their efforts, and advance equity for a better environmental movement.
From Thursday, April 19, 2018 – Saturday, April 21, 2018, 25 board members of color representing 30 organizations convened in Puerto Rico. Participants spent time identifying actions to advance equity on environmental boards, building skills and capacity as board members, and learning the landscape of Puerto Rico post-Maria.
The retreat featured local leaders including Ruth Santiago from Iniciativa de Eco Desarrollo de Bahía de Jobos, Christine Nieves and Luis Rodriguez Sanchez from Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana, and environmental justice advocates Juan Rosario and Luis Jorge. The retreat also included a dedicated time of service learning at agricultural farm, Hacienda Rio Viejo. Sustainable farmer, Rafael Castillo Navarro, led a tour of the grounds, shared how the farm was recovering post-Maria, and welcomed the help of participants to replant and restore crops damaged in the hurricane.
This year’s environmental convening was both sobering and inspiring. As board members of color and indigenous people serving on environmental boards, we leveraged our shared power by demanding action directly to our CEOs and those of the larger “Big Green” environmental network in a letter found here. We will continue to build power for the environmental movement and this must include the people and communities in Puerto Rico.