Fighting for environmental justice | National Union of Public and General Employees

Fighting for environmental justice

The struggle to achieve environmental sustainability must be inextricably linked to efforts to oppose inequality in all its forms.

Ottawa (4 Dec. 2019) — Environmental and climate change disproportionately affect poor and marginalized communities. As we release the next two backgrounders in our series, We Must Act for an Environmentally Sustainable Future, we reflect on the need to promote environmental justice and to strive for a more just and equitable society. The complete series can be found here.

Valuing Indigenous knowledge

Respect for Indigenous rights must be at the core of climate action and efforts towards a more sustainable future.

Indigenous peoples have been at the forefront of (and raising the alarm on) environmental challenges like water contamination, food insecurity, fossil fuel extraction, and sea ice melting. As the original inhabitants of this land, Indigenous rights in these matters must be respected, and the communities must be part of decision-making.

Indigenous peoples have always needed to respond to environmental changes. They have also lived sustainably on this land, which we now call Canada, for countless generations. It is, therefore, important to respect and value the immense knowledge of Indigenous communities. Furthermore, the Valuing Indigenous Knowledge backgrounder highlights how much we could learn.

The struggle for equality

Economic and social inequality are intimately linked to ecological degradation and climate change. Inequality, within and among nations, has contributed to environmental damage and a changing climate. As a result, environmental and climate change have uneven impacts across communities and countries, with poor and marginalized populations bearing the brunt.

The latest backgrounder, The Struggle for Environmental Sustainability Is Also the Struggle for Equality, highlights some examples.

A just transition for workers

In this same vein, the transition to a green economy must be just for all workers and their communities. 

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised they would “ensure energy workers and communities can shape their own futures by introducing a Just Transition Act, giving workers access to the training, support, and new opportunities needed to succeed in the future economy.” We call on the newly elected minority government to deliver on this promise immediately.

The struggle to achieve environmental sustainability must be inextricably linked to efforts to oppose inequality in all its forms.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE