Since its earliest days, our Network has embraced systems thinking as a way to better understand our interconnected challenges and to better identify effective strategies to make real progress. Events and public discourse over the past weeks have reminded us that our energy and climate challenges do not exist in isolation from other social challenges. In fact, they are inter-linked with—and exacerbated by—racial and economic inequities.
Last year, thanks to the work of the Vermont Energy Future Initiative, EAN’s Board updated the mission statement of our Network to make clear that it’s not enough to meet the numerical targets of Vermont’s energy and emissions reduction commitments – that how we do so also matters. Specifically, we are committed to creating “a more just, thriving, and sustainable future” for Vermonters.
As we shared last month, our Network Evolution work group recently identified centering equity as a key priority for the future of our network. As a first step, EAN is researching existing equity frameworks used by network members, and by other collaborative networks and energy organizations, to guide us in expanding how our network conducts data tracking and analysis, broadens Network participation, and improves Network processes.
As we do so, EAN staff will strive to continue to act with humility, as co-learners with our Network members, seeking to “call you in” to thoughtful reflection. We will also work to carefully facilitate honest conversations in service of more meaningful and durable change that can better get at the roots of our inter-linked systemic challenges, from the climate crisis to persistent racial and economic inequity.
To do so, difficult questions will demand more of our attention, including how systemic racism is manifested in the energy and climate spheres. And, while achieving it will be complex and challenging, we also believe that the need to act to create “a more just, thriving, and sustainable future” calls out to us now as loudly than ever.
We recognize that many network member organizations are grappling with these issues as well, that some have key resources and learning to offer, and that critical voices are missing from our network table—particularly those representing Vermonters of color. We invite you all to partner with us in this work going forward and welcome your feedback on how we can do better.
The EAN Team