Gulf South Rising is a regional movement of more that 75 environmental justice groups and regional organizers from the five Gulf states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The movement's purpose is to put frontline communities at the center of global discussion to recognize the human rights and environmental justice violations from extractive industries and to demand an equitable transition away from from these industries, discriminatory policies, and unjust practices.
"Communities in the Gulf Coast are some of the most vulnerable and affected places to live in the United States that suffer from systemic environmental racism. We need a more comprehensive plan of action to keep our communities safe from chemical disasters, environmental degradation and climate change," says Yudith Nieto, a T.E.J.A.S. delegate and youth organizer.
T.E.J.A.S. is the only environmental justice organization in Houston dedicated to frontline communities and speaks with a unique voice, shedding light on the climate impacts within the Texas Gulf Coast and U.S/Mexico Borderlands. Texas has already experienced erratic weather patterns including droughts, flash floods, seawater rise and other natural disasters. Houston witnessed the largest displacement of U.S residents when Hurricane Katrina and a failed levy system forced tens of thousands to relocate.
The region has also witnessed thousands of migrants from Mexico and Central America fleeing violence and negative impacts from weather anomalies, free-trade agreements and the war on drugs.
"A number of studies have suggested that climate change will lead to more flash floods, more drought and will continue to displace people from their homelands," says Juan Parras, executive director of T.E.J.A.S.
T.E.J.A.S. will join thousands of grassroots organizers and climate justice leaders
from across the world to demand real action and not false solutions from COP21 world leaders. Frontline communities contribute the least to the problem and suffer the most from excessive extreme extraction, transportation and refining of fossil fuels.
The Defenders of Mother Earth tribunal is a unique, citizen-created initiative. It gives people from all around the world the opportunity to testify publicly as to the destruction of the Earth - destruction that governments and corporations not only allow, but in some cases encourage. The tribunal also has a strong focus on enabling indigenous peoples and local communities to share their unique concerns and solutions about land, water, and culture with the global community.
T.E.J.A.S. will stand in solidarity with indigenous communities at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal, alongside the Defenders of Mother Earth. These tribunals examine the evidence, propose remediating solutions, and give voice to the global call to transform human consciousness; redesign failing, consumptive economic and social structures; and create a framework for living in harmony with nature, grounded in the recognition of the Rights of Mother Earth.
T.E.J.A.S. will travel with other frontline leaders from across North America to participate inside and outside the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France.
T.E.J.A.S. advocates for environmental justice with communities, students, and workers alongside the Houston Ship Channel (Buffalo Bayou) in Houston's historic East End where residents are impacted by one of the largest concentrations of refineries and chemical plants in the world. Through grassroots organizing, community education, collective work, and outreach,
T.E.J.A.S. advocates for communities such as Manchester, a small Latino community surrounded by the Houston Ship Channel and its industrial appendages.