Given its geography as an island in the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico presents pronounced physical vulnerabilities to climate change in the form of worsening storms, hurricanes, and coastal erosion. These vulnerabilities are profoundly shaped by historical, social, and political forces, such as the legacy of colonialism and the political-economy of the island’s status as an unincorporated territory of the United States. This historical and political-economic context produces social and environmental injustices that exacerbate the challenges of the climate crisis.
The recent disaster of Hurricane Maria has shown how climate change can devastate the communities of a “small-island developing state,” which face economic inequality, fiscal austerity, and other effects of predatory neoliberal economic policies. Yet, as a vibrant place for activism and social innovation, Puerto Ricans have also revealed a deep resilience and shown ways to work toward community-led justice and sustainability. Through community organizing, mutual aid, solidarity brigades, and other forms of grassroots collective action, Puerto Rico offers an intimate look at ways people are resisting neoliberal disaster capitalism and fighting for sovereignty over land, food, water, and energy resources.
- Learn directly from researchers, activists, and community organizers working toward food justice, energy sovereignty, and land rights.
- Examine the importance of place, race, class, gender, and culture in understanding climate impacts and adaptation strategies.
- Debate the role of government, civil society, grassroots movements, and individual action for social change in the climate crisis.
- Explore how combining new technologies, old traditions, and collective action can lead to just and sustainable futures.