All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability

Each year the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations (UU@UN) hosts our Intergenerational Spring Seminar. Our 2021 theme was All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Seminar was held online rather than in-person in New York City.

Logo of 2021 UU@UN Intergenerational Spring Seminar "All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability"

About the Theme: All in for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability

Agriculture covers the largest amount of our planet's land surface area out of any industry. A primary way that we as a species interact with the physical land of our planet is through our agricultural practices and through food distribution and consumption systems.

Food systems and the Earth's climate are deeply intertwined. The changing climate is deeply affecting farmlands through unpredictable weather patterns that can cause floods, drought, contamination, and unseasonable temperatures. Meanwhile, unsustainable food systems are accelerating the rate of climate destruction through methane emissions from cows and other livestock, deforestation to expand croplands, and polluting distribution channels. The solutions that lead us to sustainable farmland that is healthier and more biodiverse, are also healing for our planet and building resilience for our food crops and our communities.

Critical in all of this is the role that systems of oppression have historically played and continue to play in how food is grown and distributed. Capitalism has created a system that prioritizes profit, leading to the exploitation of land and farm workers. In a similar strain, this obsession with profit has made it so that the food that’s easiest and cheapest to get is ultra-processed and low in nutrients. Lack of access to fresh and nutritious foods is especially prominent in Black, Indigenous, and other people of color communities, where centuries of oppression have created environmental and economic harm.

It is important to educate communities about the ways in which our food is grown and the impact those farming practices have on our planet. We must ensure that all people have access to delicious and nutritious foods. On a larger scale, food systems must be informed by traditional farming techniques that honor the sacredness of the land itself and that center the interdependent web of all existence.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast into sharp relief the inequalities present in our world—perhaps most noticeably in the shape of increasing food insecurity. The injustices present in the ways that food is grown, distributed, and consumed are tightly interwoven with the injustices of the climate crisis.

The 2021 Intergenerational Spring Seminar, which took place all online, explored these ideas and how we can be all in for climate justice and food security for everyone, everywhere.

The programs drew inspiration from the UUA 2011 Statement of Conscience "Ethical Eating: Food & Environmental Justice."

2021 Seminar Objectives

  1. Center youth and young adult leadership in the Spring Seminar and the climate justice movement.
  2. Equip participants with examples of powerful local organizing and skills to organize their communities strategically for food and climate justice.
  3. Equip congregations/greater community with the tools they need to take action for sustainability and food justice
    1. Recognize the interconnection between sustainability and food equity
    2. Reframe food systems as a pathway to collective healing and regeneration
  4. Connect and fortify participants spiritually for the food justice and climate justice struggle, making space for grief, anger, hope, and resilience. Ground our education, advocacy, and organizing in food justice as an intersectional justice issue—intersections of race, class, colonialism.
  5. Lift up the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and feature speakers that will give a broad perspective about the climate crisis.

Resources for Further Engagement with Food Equity and Sustainability

We've compiled resources from some of the presenters for further engagement with this year's Seminar topic. Check out the resources page and stay involved with taking action for climate and food justice both locally and globally!

The Resources for further engagement page includes:

  • Resources and materials shared by presenters & planners
  • Opportunities to connect with ongoing initiatives and networks for climate and food justice

ALSO: see this compilation of Seminar resources from UU Ministry for Earth

2021 Seminar: Recap & Recordings

Article about 2021 Seminar takeaways on the UUA International Blog: "All In for Complexity: Climate and Food Justice, Equity, and Sustainability"

Workshop Recordings

Watch the following recorded workshops:

Worship Service Recordings

The 2021 Seminar Spiritual Grounding Team offered three beautiful, multisensory worship services during the Seminar weekend. View them here: