Effective January 1, 2024, Departures® will no longer be available.

Card Members will no longer have access to Departures.com content or receive any print Departures magazines.

From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Fixing the Climate for Everyone

WE ACT for Environmental Justice is empoweringresidents to take the reigns by making pivotal environmental decisions in their communities.


Sublime Stays in Japan's Capital City


Sublime Stays in Japan's Capital City

Navigating the art of Japanese hospitality among the finest hotels and ryokans in...

Exquisite Central Park Views, Museum Getaways, and a Classic London Stay


Exquisite Central Park Views, Museum Getaways, and a Classic London Stay

Plus, a new Ritz, cool Copenhagen hangouts, and Antwerp opulence.

Todd Snyder Knows His Strong Suit


Todd Snyder Knows His Strong Suit

For the last three decades, the New York fashion designer has helped American men...

“This new movement building around social justice is beginning to incorporate a broader sector than police brutality and criminal-justice reform,” says Peggy Shepard, the co-founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, based in Harlem. Communities of color, especially low-income ones, have higher exposure rates to air pollution and other environmental hazards. (In 1988, Shepard was instrumental in New York City paying a $1.1 million settlement and committing $55 million to upgrading a sewage facility that was sickening West Harlem residents.) WE ACT’s purview is wide-ranging: Its 900 members work to empower residents to take an active role in government decisions. “We work to empower the most affected community residents to engage in environmental decision making,” Shepard says. “We don’t separate policy from base building.”

Related: The Best Eco-Initiatives in Hospitality This Year

The organization blocks new bus depots in overtaxed neighborhoods, advocates for safer public housing, and trains citizens to engage with their elected officials. (Shepard was one herself, a former Democratic district leader.) Her reach is national. In 1991, she helped create the seventeen Principles of Environmental Justice at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. In Washington, D.C., where WE ACT operates an office, “we are the first institutionalized voice on environmental justice that impacts policies,” she says.

Related: How Climate Change Is Changing the Travel Industry in Greenland

Still, only one percent of all environmental financial contributions currently go to justice groups. “It’s not because the issues aren’t real or important; it’s a bias that it’s even important to think about these communities,” Shepard says. In June, as America erupted in protests in support of Black lives, WE ACT, and Shepard, helped relaunch the National Black Environmental Justice Network, ensuring that as focus returns to the climate crisis, justice will be part of the conversation.


Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.