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Climate Justice Hub

Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

The HUB

Though distinct historically and conceptually, environmental and climate justice are remaking 

how we understand 21st century social movements and politics across diverse sectors, 

especially those aiming to rectify or repair past injustices and build just, sustainable, and 

resilient societies, extreme weather events have devastated ecosystems, lives, and livelihoods, 

especially those of the poor and vulnerable. Climate-resilient communities are a proactive 

response to climate change and involve people and communities protecting their lives and 

livelihoods and shaping local development programs.  

 

The Institute for Socio-Ecological Research (ISER Caribe) seeks to develop a Climate Justice hub in Cabo Rojo in Western Puerto Rico within our newly acquired office space, conveniently located adjacent to the town square. ISER Caribe is committed to working directly with communities in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean through a transdisciplinary approach by conducting participatory research and engagement.  

 

The Climate Justice Hub will drive a needs-responsive support structure to be flexible with 

challenges presented by the community and stakeholders. The Hub will be a central place to 

coordinate research, teaching, and outreach activities that address environmental and climate 

change injustices, focusing on building collaborations. The Hub will become a stable, nurturing, 

and generative space that supports decentralized organizing and ensures the sustainability of 

grassroots movements. We hope visitors find something that captures their attention and 

motivates them to reflect on their work and lives and how it might contribute to the Climate 

Justice mission.  

 

The Climate Justice Hub will be composed of four elements: 

1. Food, water, and energy security 

2. Education and outreach 

3. Climate justice and Community knowledge 

4. Ecosystems restoration and conservation 

 

 

1. Food, water, and energy security: 

Food security: The island faces multiple environmental, horticultural, and ecological challenges 

and is currently importing over 85% of the food needed for the population. Over time we will 

expand the cultivating area and diversify what we grow. We will start an urban garden at our 

Hub, including a rooftop plot, a vertical garden structure, and a hydroponic system to showcase 

food production in urban spaces. ISER will share the garden produce with our volunteers and 

visitors. Alongside our many local agricultural collaborators, we will establish a weekly farmers 

market adjacent to our office space. This weekly event will provide an opportunity for others in 

neighboring communities to join us, learn, and begin to implement some of the many ideas 

around food and climate justice. Water quality is an important issue that gets taken for granted. ISER will partner with community organizations and academic institutions to develop a collaborative community water lab. 

 

The Water Outreach and Research Program will integrate topics of environmental justice, climate change, and sustainability resilience. ISER will test community water sources and educate the public about water quality and the health risks of contaminated water. Some of the goals of the water lab are as follows: To design a Community-operated aqueduct survey for the western mountain region of Puerto Rico; to complete the laboratory certification process with the Department of Health of Puerto Rico; to provide water quality monitoring services to Community Operated Aqueduct; and to develop an agricultural pollutant monitoring program in the Lajas Valley Irrigation Canal. 

Alternative and sustainable energy generation: As part of our attempts to develop local energy 

solutions, we will create a demonstrative small-scale solar and wind system atop the Climate 

Justice Hub. The solar energy produced at the Hub will be available to communities during and 

after emergencies, such as hurricanes. This system will be used as an educational tool and 

model for future efforts and will decrease our energy usage. 

 

2. Education and outreach: 

We will create a Climate Justice Educational Resource Library, assembling a body of learning on 

best practices in climate justice /progressive organizing and mobilizing strategy drawing from 

field experience of campaigners from around the world and leading researchers in this space. 

Community members will be able to use the library resources and space to produce knowledge, 

art, literature, films, and human network connections that help secure a more livable future on 

an environmentally friendly planet. 

The Hub will serve as a safe space to convene local artists, activists, organizers, educators, and 

cultural practitioners who want to understand the systemic causes of the climate crisis, how it 

intersects with issues of social, economic, and environmental injustice and how their incursions 

into arts and culture can respond creatively and inspire others to act. As part of our convening, we will have monthly community gatherings to discuss various themes, shared objectives, and opportunities for collaboration. The community gatherings will serve as a stepping stone for convening affinity groups around the themes of water, energy, food and climate justice, and the arts. Within these affinity groups, we will develop ideas, resources, and public activities utilizing community-centered research practice and incorporating processes of participatory democracy and participatory budgeting. 

 

3. Climate justice and Community knowledge: 

Accurate forecasting facilitates effective preparation for weather events and is important for tropical circum-Caribbean communities, as large forecast errors can occur across locations such as Puerto Rico. As extreme rainfall events are predicted to occur with increased frequency and intensity, the need for accurate and timely forecasts remains important. Since accurate weather 

prediction is vital to the operation of industries across the island such as agriculture and tourism, its impact on socioeconomic vulnerabilities is undeniable. A weather station will be placed atop our office space to measure precipitation, temperature, humidity, and wind speed. Our weather station will connect with other weather networks and be used to produce and share local temperature and rainfall data. This weather data will be shared with the local community and help reduce weather prognosis errors that affect local labor and agricultural practices. 

 

4. Ecosystems restoration and conservation: 

Coral reefs provide vital services, like protection from wave energy and a food source, for the local communities along the coast. ISER has spearheaded restoration in PR. Along with our partners, NOAA, UPRM, DNER, NFWF, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, we have developed the first land-based coral and sea urchin nurseries for restoration efforts. Our nurseries in La Parguera and Ceiba 

have been a center for education and training for local schools and universities. We will continue this training and provide workshops on-site and in the Hub. 

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