The 2022 CleanAIRE NC conference will be held on Thursday, April 7 both virtually and in person at Catawba College in Salisbury. “Health, Equity, and the Climate Crisis in North Carolina” is an opportunity for environmental stakeholders to meet with and hear from some of the leading voices in health, science and policymaking about climate change related issues.
This year’s two keynote speakers, Richard Moore and Sacoby Wilson, have spent decades working on and organizing around issues of environmental justice.
Richard Moore is the co-coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance and the Los Jardines Institute (The Gardens Institute). Moore formerly chaired the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and executive director of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice. He currently serves as a co-chair for the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Sacoby Wilson directs the Center for Community Engagement, environmental justice and health at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Applied Environmental Health. Wilson also founded 17 for Peace and Justice and co-founded the DC/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) Environmental Justice Coalition and the Mid-Atlantic Justice Coalition.
Since it began in 2015, the NC BREATHE conference has been held in various cities to reach people in every part of the state. It nitially explored a different environmental theme each year. In recent years, however, the conference has been centered around environmental justice in NC.
“It’s becoming more and more clear that the topics of health, equity and climate crisis and the issues that arise at the intersection of those three issues are such an enormous well of issues and potential solutions,” says communications manager Andrew Whalen.
Three of the top five leading causes of death in North Carolina (heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke) are all associated with air and environmental pollution. Race remains the most significant predictor of where commercial hazardous waste facilities are located; 7 out of 10 Black people live near a hazardous waste site. CleanAIRE NC Health manager Kirsten Minor says those factors make it important to acknowledge how the past shapes our present.
“The 2022 NC BREATHE conference is significant for environmental justice as it will increase awareness around health, equity, and the impacts of climate change, while also discussing community-centered solutions with insight from diverse environmental leaders, activists, citizen scientists, and scholars,” says Minor.
Health, Equity, and the Climate Crisis in North Carolina will feature panel discussions on a variety of topics, including NC Youth Fighting for Climate Solutions, Voices from the Frontline and Addressing Climate Change & Health Equity.
Whalen credits the success of NC BREATHE to its solutions-oriented focus. “One of the main draws is getting people with different experiences and expertise together in the same space talking and thinking about solutions. In order to solve the climate crisis, we need to have everybody be part of the conversation,” he says. “This has grown beyond a local conference and we hope it will become the premier statewide conference on conference on health, equity, and the climate crisis.”
CleanAIRE NC anticipates that this year’s attendance will meet or exceed the 200 registrants in previous years.
Date: Thursday, April 7, 2022
Time: 8:00am – 5:00pm,
Where: Catawba College, Salisbury
Cost: Virtual $50; In Person $75; Free for students and media