Empowering the Latino Community to Protect the Arctic
In June, Jasmine Carter of Eagle River graduated as part of the inaugural class of Latino Emerging Leaders for Ocean and Coastal Conservation. It was an initiative of Azul, an environmental justice organization founded in California in 2011 to increase the participation of the Latino community in these efforts. Today, Azul promotes environmental justice and equity internationally.
The Emerging Leaders Initiative is attracting a growing number of Latino activists who are committed to protecting the oceans and their coasts. Leaders like Jasmine Carter, 24, from Eagle River, who works in Anchorage.
Jasmine is one of the first fourteen Emerging Leaders in Blue, from Alaska to Puerto Rico. These young people are advocating for ocean justice in their communities.
More than sixty young Latinos applied to be part of this inaugural cohort of Azul leaders, an organization that taps into the long history of merging Latino conservation traditions with environmental justice values.
“I’m looking forward to building new relationships with other Latino activists and learning more about ocean conservation. There aren’t many opportunities like this in Alaska. But Natives and other communities are coming together to improve climate and environmental conditions. Youth and Natives are very aware of protecting and preserving oceans like the Arctic,” Jasmine Carter tells Sol de Medianoche.
The first 14 Emerging Leaders in Blue gathered in Washington, D.C. for training, advocacy and activism. They visited Congress and the Senate, among other places. Jasmine Carter was able to speak for a few minutes with Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native Congresswoman in the nation’s history. They also visited the White House at the invitation of Dr. Miriam Goldstein, Director of Ocean Policy at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
“We celebrate Jasmine Carter’s work as an emerging leader in Alaska,” said Marce Gutierrez-Graudiņš, founder and executive director of Azul. “When I began my career in ocean conservation 15 years ago, I was the only Latina and the only Spanish speaker at ocean policy and coastal protection meetings in the United States. Today, Azul is part of the transformation of Latino leadership, celebrating their cultural heritage and creating ocean solutions that benefit their communities, whether coastal or inland.”
Emerging Leaders will create individualized work plans tailored to the needs of their community and will be able to apply for funding for their ocean and coastal conservation work in their own communities.
Alaska is privileged by its natural environment. “The people are aware of the importance of protecting the environment because it has been their home for generations. They hunt, fish and live their lives in this environment. For many, fishing for salmon, gathering shellfish and hunting are sacred. But there are conflicting interests between defending nature and the needs to exploit it,” says Jasmine.
“I am very connected to climate justice in Anchorage, where I work. I want to motivate Latinos more because they have a positive impact on the natural environment. There is a lot of work to be done. We need leaders with the will to change,” says Jasmine.