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Climate Justice Agenda for Nursing

Climate Justice Agenda for Nursing

“Climate justice nursing addresses the social, racial, economic, environmental, and multi-species justice issues of the climate crisis through centering the experiences and knowledges of frontline and fenceline communities and safeguarding the rights of Nature to achieve planetary health.” (LeClair/CJN Steering committee working definition, 2021)

The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments calls on nurses from around the world to unite to address climate justice. For centuries, planetary health injustices have been fueled by racism, colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism; unjustly burdening people in frontline and fenceline communities. 

We consider those on the frontlines to be those marginalized because of race, class, gender identity, sexual identity, age, poverty, life circumstances, geography, immigrant status, and disability. Fenceline communities are those whose communities have been targeted by polluting industries, extractive governmental and multinational corporations, or who live in geographies already impacted by extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and temperature change. Marginalization is the historical, political, legal, economic, ideological, and societal processes used to change, erase, exploit, and diminish the perceptions of social groups labeling them as inferior or vulnerable (Dickman & Chicas, 2021; Hall, 1999).

For nursing, Climate justice actions demand the fair and meaningful involvement of all voices in addressing environmental threats. However, dominant discourses traditionally exclude the voices of marginalized communities in identifying environmental threats and practices for coping and surviving such threats. Nurses are ideally positioned to engage in dialogue with marginalized communities to develop effective, long-term solutions to bolstering human adaptation and health and safeguarding ecosystems for community survival (LeClair, 2021).  

Fair and meaningful involvement means the equitable distribution of the resources for and engagement in decision making;  the re-centering of worldviews and knowledge of those marginalized; the employment of just-participation practices in our decision-making structures and processes;  and evaluating and adapting our functioning to be equitable and inclusive. 

Climate justice has become a driving force for innovation in science and is at the forefront of the environmental justice movement, yet nursing has been largely silent as to what we can do to address climate justice in the communities we practice in. Through our work together, we aim to stimulate a global dialogue on climate justice, center marginalized voices in climate justice decision-making, and collaborate through research, education, and practice to advance climate justice action globally.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Listen to the Climate Justice Podcasts
  2. Join the ANHE Climate Change committee!
  3. Reflect on the voices of frontline and fenceline communities in the Voices Unbound projects I and II (see below)
  4. See the photos nurses sent to us that exemplify being involved in climate justice!
  5. Review the Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice (see below) and share it with others!

Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice

As part of our work, we have developed a Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice that will accelerate international collaboration and partnerships with nursing organizations for research, practice, and teaching on climate justice. 

ANHE would like to thank the following organizations and members of the Climate Justice Steering Committee for their contributions to the COP26 Exhibit and the Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice.

Climate Justice Podcasts

Dr. Robin Evans-Agnew, host of the Nurses’ Actions for Climate Justice Series

Dr. Evans-Agnew (He, Him, His) is an associate professor in the vibrant University of Washington Tacoma’s School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership. He co-led ANHE’s Climate Justice in Nursing Steering Committee and is the first host of the Climate Justice Series of the podcast.

The Nurse Actions for Climate Justice Podcasts showcase actions nurses are taking around the globe to address and advance climate justice for people and our planet. The podcasts formed part of the first Nursing exhibit for the 2021 Congress of Parties meeting on Climate Change (Cop26, November 1-12, 2021, Glasgow UK). In the interviews, we discuss opinions and attitudes towards addressing climate justice and describe the actions or projects the interviewee is involved in. We summarize with suggestions for the next steps and ways other nurses can get involved in similar actions in their own countries. Interviews are conducted in English and Spanish.

Beth Schenk, host of the Nurses for Healthy Environments Podcast

Elizabeth Schenk, Ph.D., RN, FAAN is a healthcare sustainability leader in Missoula, Montana.  She has been working to reduce pollution from healthcare for over 3 decades. Schenk developed the “Nurses Environmental Awareness Tool”. She led the development of the CHANT: Climate, Health, and Nursing Tool. She developed the WE ACT PLEASE framework for environmental stewardship. Schenk serves on the national board of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, and on the boards of Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate and Climate Smart Missoula. She has hosted the podcast for 4 seasons and loves speaking with nurses around the world to highlight and celebrate their work at the intersection of health and the environment.

Click here to listen to podcast episodes highlighting nursing leadership at the intersection of climate justice and health

PAST WEBINAR – A Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice – Nursing Leadership at COP26 & Beyond

The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments held a special launch event of the “Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice” ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Climate justice has become a driving force for innovation in science and is at the forefront of the environmental justice movement and nurses are in a key position to advance climate justice in collaboration with the communities we practice in. In the development of this agenda, nursing organizations around the world have gathered together to stimulate a global dialogue on climate justice, center marginalized voices in climate justice decision-making, and collaborate through research, education, and practice to advance climate justice action globally. On this webinar, speakers shared more information about the Agenda, how nurses are collaborating on a global scale, and their stories at the intersection of climate justice, health, and nursing.

Speakers Included:

  • Doriam Camacho Rodriguez,  PhD, MBA, RN, Dean of Nursing Faculty, Cooperative University of Colombia, ANHE Latinoamérica
  • Sr. Jackline Mayaka, PhD, RN, Franciscan sister of St Joseph, Director of Nursing Services at Christamarriane Mission Hospital-Kisii in Western Kenya
  • Faith Nawagi, RN, BSN, PGC. Clin Epi, MIPH, PHD-HPE, Africa Regional Hub Chair of the Nursing Now, African Representative for ECFMG|FAIMER, University of  Minnesota, Institute of EnvironmentView the webinar recording here.

View the webinar recording here.

PAST WEBINAR – Nursing Leadership at the Intersection of Climate & Health, November 11, 2021

Co-hosted by the International Council of Nurses and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments as part of the COP26 Health Programme. Making up the majority of the health workforce, nurses can make a powerful contribution to both mitigate climate change and to support people and communities around the world to adapt to its impacts. This webinar event showcases nursing leadership and interdisciplinary cross-sector collaboration on climate change and health. Featuring a panel discussion with nurses around the world, speakers share examples of nursing leadership in climate action, influencing and advocating for change at institutional, systems, and the policy level. Welcome by: Howard Catton, BSc, Econ, MA, RCN, CEO of the International Council of Nurses and Katie Huffling, DNP, MS, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, Executive Direct of Alliance of Nurses for Healthy EnvironmentsSpeakers:

  • Beth Schenk, PhD, RN, FAAN, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship, Providence St. Patrick Hospital, USA
  • Carmen Alvarez Nieto, PhD Department of Nursing, Universidad de Jaén, Spain
  • Erlinda Palaganas, PhD, RN, University of the Philippines, Philippines (invited)

View the webinar recording here.

Voices UNbound I: People & Planet Project

In efforts to stimulate new ways of knowing and understanding climate justice discourses amongst human health-focused NGOs and youth organizations, we are participating in research that will engage with 1,073 voices from marginalized communities living in the Puget Sound Basin in Washington State. Using Photovoice analysis, which is an action research method using documentary photography and dialogue, we will be able to determine actions for climate justice. Below you will find interactive modules from the findings of this research, which were also displayed at our exhibit during COP26.

[Voices UNBound, A virtual collection of voices concerned about the environment from the Pacific Northwest]

Voices UNbound II: Centering the voices of marginalized communities in Nursing conversations on climate Justice

This project centers on the voice of youth in responding to the climate crisis and was designed to stimulate nurses into understanding how youth conceptualize climate justice for people and the planet.

The youth were from a diverse community in the Puget Sound Region. Calling themselves the Lakewood Teens for Climate Justice, they curated a collection of their own images and text derived from dialogue through a methodology called photovoice, focusing on the questions of what should be done by those in power to address climate justice.

COP26: 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference

What is COP26?

On November 12, 2021, ANHE exhibited the first Global Nursing Agenda for Climate Justice. COP26 was the 26th annual United Nations climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and the summit is attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994.

Why was COP26 important?

Many people see it as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 Parties at COP21 in Paris, in December 2015. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

COP26 was important because for the first time there was a specific focus on health. Signatories advanced more ambitious goals for ending their contribution to climate change under the Paris Agreement and their plans for climate action known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). 

In their NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.

Outcomes from our Part in COP26: 

In collaboration with nurses and nursing organizations globally, ANHE gained “Observer” status at COP26 enabling our attendance at future meetings. Aside from the International Council of Nurses, we are the first nursing-led organization to gain this status. In addition, We were able to publish the first Global Nurse Agenda for Climate Justice

Here’s how you can get involved:

Help us Spread Awareness:

  • Tag us on Social Media!!!  #Nurses4ClimateJustice @EnviRN

Use these key messages:

  • Nurses care for people and the planet
  • Those who contribute the least to climate change will unjustly and disproportionately suffer it’s harms
  • Climate justice in nursing addresses the climate crisis and safeguards the rights of nature to achieve planetary health