Racial equity, environmental justice, and the ocean

Last reviewed and updated June 6, 2022

The Only One platform is a home for stories, solutions, and community action to protect the ocean, tackle the climate crisis, and help fuel the movement for a more just, equitable planet.

We know Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation, often bearing the brunt of the impact even though they have contributed the least to the problem. We also recognize that the dominant narratives of the environmental and climate movement have historically ignored — and excluded — the contributions, knowledge, and leadership of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.

That exclusion is wrong on all levels. Systemic racial inequity and injustice also undercut our ability to address this emergency and prevent us all from achieving the change we seek. The climate crisis, ocean degradation, and systemic racial inequity and injustice are not separate issues, they are interconnected, and solving one existential crisis requires solving the other

At Only One, we don’t claim to have all the answers, but we commit to being part of the solution. We are just beginning to understand how much we need to learn and how much we must do. As we strive to improve our organization and increase our impact, we will:  

Listen and learn.

First and foremost, we commit to listening to and learning from people and groups that have been systematically excluded, especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, recognizing and respecting their expertise and understanding of the complexities of our planet’s natural systems and our interconnectedness to those systems and each other.

Be accountable to Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other underrepresented communities.

We will partner with communities of color, those on the frontlines of environmental and ocean issues, and organizations led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and people from other underrepresented communities who are working to address these challenges. We will also prioritize working with organizations conducting ocean conservation work that is community-led and community-based, and which have local people central to the decision-making and implementation processes.

Define commitments to confront systemic racial inequity and injustice.

We will define our commitments to help undo the systems that uphold inequity within our organization, our community, and our movement, and measure our progress against them. We will communicate how we measure progress and achieve objectives. 

Build a more representative organization.

As an organization with predominantly white leadership and staff, we recognize that we have been complicit in perpetuating a system that makes it more difficult for people of color to participate in this work. We must do better. We commit to hiring, mentoring, and promoting more people of color because it is the right thing to do, and because we recognize that in order to address global challenges, the knowledge, participation, ideas, and leadership of people of color is absolutely critical. 

Treat climate change and ocean degradation as a racial justice issue.

Achieving our goal of creating and amplifying stories that inspire action to protect the ocean, the planet, and each other is only possible if we prioritize racial justice and equity throughout our work. We will make space for the voices and experiences of people of color, celebrating their work and promoting a strategy that supports treating the climate crisis and degradation of the ocean as racial justice issues. 

With humility, we invite any feedback and suggestions for how we could do this better. If you don’t see yourself reflected on the Only One platform, please let us know. We promise to listen and endeavor to change that in a meaningful way.

We embrace the necessary, collective work that lies ahead.

Only One Team

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