AAPI 2024 EarthShare

It’s Time to Recognize Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the Environmental Movement

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and before we jump into this article recognizing some of the incredible environmental nonprofits that are Asian-Pacific led and/or focused, we first need to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

For far too long, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have been ignored or entirely left out of environmental decision making. Yet, Pacific Islanders are one of the groups most impacted by climate change, and Asian Americans—compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in America—are more actively supporting climate change measures (48% compared to 36%).

Why is this? The answer is complex and includes everything from the negative impacts of colonialism to the racist history of environmentalism itself to the refusal to acknowledge Asian Americans as an underrepresented minority in ecology. The list—sadly—goes on. And while we don’t think EarthShare is necessarily in a position to properly discuss these issues and their complexities—not in a way that does justice to the topic and the true experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders—we absolutely can point you toward folks who can (might we suggest articles from Alexia Leclercq and Christina Choi) as well as highlight how we can uplift AAPI voices and leadership in the environmental conversation moving forward.

Meeting Some of Today's Key Players

We’re taking a look at notable AAPI organizations throughout the United States who are leading and inspiring environment change. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start to learn more about these organizations, their leaders, their missions, and just a few of the roles Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders play (and have always played) in striving for a healthier planet for us all.

Where They Work: Pacific Islands and Diaspora

350 Pacific isn’t just an organization, it’s a youth-led network of grassroots organizations and communities fighting against climate change throughout the Pacific Islands. 18 Pacific Island and diaspora communities educate the public about the unique challenges islands face when it comes to climate change and how these issues can be addressed in a way that supports resilient communities, justice, and environmental wellness.

Where They Work: California

APEN is an environmental justice organization that works with Asian immigrant and refugee communities throughout the state of California to strive for a healthier environment for everyone. Through community action, APEN brings a collective voice to the table to help create positive change and instill environmental, social, and economic justice.

Where They Work: Hawaiian Islands

Throughout the Hawaiian archipelago, KAHEA is working to stop the exploitation of Hawaiian lands and resources and calling for new policy that emphasizes sustainability as well as environmental and social justice, protecting the resources and cultural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands for generations to come.

Where They Work: Throughout the Pacific Rim

Pacific Environment is a coalition of more than one hundred and fifty ally organizations and grassroots groups throughout the Pacific Rim. Their goal? Protecting the critical lands, waters, wildlife, and whole ecosystems located there, and building toward a united environmental movement. The need for grassroots funding is greater than ever, and by amplifying these efforts worldwide, Pacific Environment seeks a healthier planet for us all.

Want more organizations to learn about and support? Meet some of the EarthShare Nonprofit Partners who are AAPI-led.

Executive Director: Jun Bando

Conserving California native plants and their habitats through education, stewardship, and advocacy.

CEO: M. Sanjayan, Ph.D.

Working with thousands of global partners to secure the critical benefits of nature for all people.

Co-Executive Director: Katherine Un

Supporting a more equitable future for U.S. agriculture and food systems in the face of climate change.

President & CEO: Manish Bapna

Using science, law, policy, and the power of people to protect nature and tackle climate change.

Executive Director: Dan Chu

Focusing on climate change and conservation solutions through local, regional, and national advocacy.


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