Our roots are embedded across the environmental justice movement landscape of Turtle Island (North America), 500+ years of struggle against settler colonialism, and the vision, values and principles formulated and raised up by grassroots climate justice leaders, such as the 1991 Principles of Environmental Justice, and the 1996 Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing.
Recognizing the need to strengthen democratic representation of frontline community leadership at national climate movement tables, U.S. federal climate policy arenas and UN climate conferences, we drew on the groundwork of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), the Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), the Just Transition Alliance (JTA), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change (EJLF) to conduct a deep climate justice power analysis and organizing strategy prior to founding CJA.
Several meetings were held, leading up to a national Mobilization for Climate Justice in 2009, and a grassroots community delegation and allies to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen (COP15). CJA Co-Founders IEN, EJCC, GAIA, Ruckus Society, Movement Generation, and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) also worked with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Rising Tide and the Zero Waste Detroit Coalition to initiate a 400-person Ecojustice People’s Movement Assembly and the March for “Clean Air, Good Jobs & Justice for All” at the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit.
Through these assemblies, it became clear that we needed to strengthen alignment among environmental organizations, social justice organizations, and frontline communities and develop a unified vision, shared principles, and the transformative strategies necessary to address the need for real economic and social remedies to the ecological and climate crises. The founders of CJA recognized that only by weaving our efforts together would we be able to create a force powerful enough to counter the ‘‘jobs vs. environment’’ and “climate deniers” frame while providing a visionary pathway forward for our communities, for Mother Earth, and for future generations.