An organization aimed at boosting diversity within the environmental movement is rolling out a new database this week to help Congress hear from more non-white expert witnesses.
Green 2.0 is rolling out a new “experts of color database” Thursday, featuring more than 150 people of color who can testify before Congress on environmental issues including coral reefs and climate change.
In 2022, 62 percent of congressional witnesses from nongovernmental organizations identified as white, Green 2.0 found, and many hearings included no witnesses of color.
Andrés Jimenez, executive director of Green 2.0, called it “simply unacceptable that there are so few speakers of color in congressional hearings when there are so many outstanding, exceptionally qualified experts of color in the environmental sector.”
The group wrote letters to congressional committees with environmental jurisdiction in 2021 urging them to boost the racial and ethnic diversity of their witnesses.
“Hearings are an integral element of the policy making process, and the inclusion of witnesses of color is key to ensuring that people across our nation have their voices heard,” the letter said. “As committees discuss pollution, water, energy, infrastructure, conservation, and many other environmental policies there must be greater inclusion and collaboration with communities of color.”
The idea behind the database is “You need to do better, you can do better,” Jimenez said Wednesday in an interview.
That’s why Green 2.0 is providing Congress with a free resource that lets it easily find experts of color. The database doesn’t just have to be used on Capitol Hill, Jimenez said. It can also be used by legislators at the state level and by journalists, he said.
The database is intended to be a “living document,” said Jimenez, who’s hoping it will grow as other experts find out about it and want to be added.
Green 2.0 is slated to hold an official database launch event Thursday afternoon.