The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the deep systemic injustices and inequalities that characterize the United States as well as other parts of the world. But for the most marginalized communities, this isn’t new.

For hundreds of years, Indigenous peoples have experienced the loss of their lands, languages, cultures, and self-determination to colonialism. Black peoples have experienced enslavement, economic deprivation, and unchecked state violence, that has brought hundreds of thousands into the streets for the last several weeks to demand justice. Immigrant communities have experienced displacement from their homelands by the ravages of U.S. armed interventions and the economic devastation of neoliberal “free trade,” and militarized borders and punitive immigration laws. And all of these communities face disproportionate harm from the crises of climate change and ecological destruction – the storms, floods, wildfires, and pollution that ravage their homes and their health even as polluting industries grow wealthier.

A just and complete solution to the ecological and climate crises must start with placing the crises in the context of centuries of white supremacy, capitalism, and hetero-patriarchy. That’s what the powerful new People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy does. It grounds the climate and environmental crises of today in histories of exploitation of peoples and planet, proposing solutions that not only address climate and the environment, but these underlying historical causes.

The People’s Orientation was developed by the Climate Justice Alliance, It Takes Roots, Indigenous Environmental Network, People’s Action, and a number of other grassroots organizations and alliances. It draws upon the experience and expertise of frontline communities, who are the communities “impacted most by climate change and its root causes, which include white supremacy, patriarchy and colonization.” It proposes bold solutions that transform our extractive economy (“a capitalist system of exploitation and oppression that values consumerism, colonialism, and money over people and the planet”) to a regenerative economy (“based on ecological restoration, community protection, equitable partnerships, justice, and full and fair participatory processes.”)

As a member of the Climate Justice Alliance, the IPS Climate Policy Program is in deep alignment with the People’s Orientation and the visionary thinking behind it. We urge all our supporters to read and share this critically important tool.

Basav Sen directs the Climate Police Program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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