As with so many crises in our country and around the world, Black and brown people are likely to bear the brunt of the pain from climate change. Unfortunately, it’s already happening.
Too often, communities of color are disproportionately affected by the damage and are left behind during the recovery. Yes, we must change the structural injustices embedded into our society that cause this pattern to repeat again and again. But, in tandem, we must champion sustainability in order to preserve the natural resources that can provide relief and support to African American men and women in need.
As we advocate for change in the world at large, we also have to ensure that our own house is in order. The values that we preach are also the values that we must practice ourselves. Since we aspire for Howard to serve as an example for what the world can be, we must ensure that we are embodying all of the principles on our campus that we are trying to enshrine outside of it.
We advocate for diversity and work to realize it ourselves. We advocate for equity and strive to provide it within our halls. We advocate for justice and ensure that our own practices meet the standards we set for fairness.
And the same must be true for sustainability.
As we set out to transform the physical infrastructure of our University with a $785 million investment, sustainability will be a guiding principle in these projects. Already, so much of our campus reflects this priority. We have been busy installing solar panels, retrofitting our buildings to become more energy efficient, replacing older and less efficient lighting systems and more. In order to make our campus more sustainable and environmentally friendly for the long-term, we have to act now.
There are measures we can all take right now to be more sustainable. We have technological solutions to mitigate the harm and undo some of the damage we have already done. But there is so much more that we need to do that has yet to even be conceived.
Howard is also working to develop the ideas and solutions to make broader progress on sustainability and environmental justice across society.
To develop robust solutions, we have to bring to the table a diversity of well-rounded leaders.
At Howard, we ensure that our students aren’t just developing technical expertise but are understanding the context in which they are going to put those skills to use and the purpose for which they are going to use them.
There is a steep hill to climb in pursuit of a more sustainable, environmentally conscious world. But the difficulty of the task has never once deterred us at Howard – and it won’t deter us now as we seek to protect our communities and reverse the effects of climate change.