The Climate is Changing, so Why Aren’t We?

ColibrĂ­ Initiative: Mobilizing For Climate Migration Justice

By Hilda Vega, Deputy VP, Philanthropic Practice

This was the title of a session I was invited to moderate as part of HIP’s recent Human Rights Summit for People on the Move examining the intersections of migration, climate, and gender justice. And it’s a damn good question. 

So far this year I’ve been thinking a lot about behaviors, especially in the philanthropic sector. We have, I think, reached a point where we can no longer keep saying that we need more research, and believe that is the big change we enacted. Yes, we need research, especially community-led research that is designed and informed by communities most impacted by injustice. But we cannot get stuck in, as I like to say, overthinking and underfunding. Research needs to serve the vital work of movements on the ground and advance philanthropy’s capacity to fund movements and communities that are pushing us to advance change.

In 2022, HIP launched the ColibrĂ­ Initiative precisely in response to what our partners across the Americas were telling us: climate and environmental change and disasters like hurricanes and droughts are accelerating the need for people to have justice-centering options, especially options related to migration. This includes migration across borders and within one’s own country. Guided by partners and activists from both the migrant and climate & environmental justice movements, we have been hosting intergenerational dialogues and building out a strategy for this initiative that centers the needs of frontline communities. 

What does this mean in practice?

It means co-developing ideas and activities in partnership with non-governmental organizations and activists by hosting critical conversations and gatherings where we listen to impacted communities. We then use their guidance to inform our next steps and make sure to compensate our partners for their time and insights.

Since the launch of the initiative, we have heard overwhelmingly that we should focus our work on:

  • Solidarity
  • Inclusion
  • Representation, especially of youth, Indigenous communities, Afro-descendant communities, women and girls, and those with disabilities
  • Shared language, including ensuring language access and justice
  • Coordination across movements, sectors, geographies, and other artificial silos that tend to keep us apart

These threads have helped solidify our work plan for the year, which will support: 

  • The continuity and expansion of intergenerational, cross-movement dialogues.
  • Inclusive processes in the implementation of our activities.
  • Centering communities most impacted by climate and migration injustice, especially in our grantmaking with active and long-term partners.
  • Support of action-oriented research that is community-led and ensures data equity.
  • Storytelling as an equitable form of learning and awareness-building.
  • Inviting funders and allies to join us in exploring how we support climate and migrant justice leaders in advancing their collective agenda.

As HIP continues to evolve our Latinx climate action initiatives and share the impact of our partners’ work, we invite everyone to follow along by signing up for the HIP newsletter and read our latest article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review en Español, Philanthropy must address climate-driven migration

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