Although the Latinx population in the U.S. reached nearly 58 million in 2016 and has been a key driver of population growth, the mainstream marine conservation movement has failed to keep pace with the country’s shifting demographics and to meaningfully engage the Latinx population in ocean and coastal advocacy. Together with other minority communities, Latinx communities – particularly those in Coastal California – are more vulnerable to health disparities and risks to their livelihoods due to impacts from climate change and sea level rise.
What can be done?
The Latinx community is diverse – both culturally and geographically – yet the community still shares common beliefs and values, including a commitment to their communities. In California, where Latinxs form a plurality that outnumbers non-Hispanic whites, the environment is a key concern, and preserving the coasts and oceans is a key element of a healthy environment. Engaging Latinx voters in California can strengthen the voice of Latinx communities, support strong environmental policies, and help preserve and protect our oceans and coastlines.
How Azul is meeting the challenge:
Azul is the only ocean conservation organization in the U.S. that focuses specifically on working within Latinx communities. Using culturally relevant communication techniques, Azul leverages both localized grassroots and “grass tops” strategies to engage Latinxs as long term conservationists with a pragmatic and common sense approach to resources use and protection. Azul has been instrumental in driving several California-based policy “wins” including banning of single use plastic bags, banning the sale and possession of shark fins, and creating legal remedies that allow fining private property owners who illegally block public access to California’s beaches.