Disability, Good practices, Inclusivity

Being inclusive in climate activism – My Greenpeace externship as Strategy Analyst

My passion to create a sustainable environment by being an agent of transformation and increase my experience in the field of climate change made me seek international experience for upskilling. Thus, started my externship journey with Greenpeace USA(https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/).

In this blog I provide a short summary of how to apply for the externship, and also highlight three projects that I led:

  1. How to include people with disabilities (PWD) in climate change activism – I provide a link to a mind map on this short project, along with a brief summary of a mind map that I prepared
  2. Recommendations to Greenpeace USA based on a comparative analysis of seven international organizations with strategies for PWD

You may find my recorded summary of the strategic analysis and presentation slides useful in your own projects. In the end, I have also included how this externship has impacted me in my own practice and activism, and how I will improve my webinars, and other activities that I get involved in.

Recorded presentation on strategic analysis

Presentation slides

Applying for externship with Greenpeace USA

I was lucky to receive a referral link to apply for the Greenpeace USA externship from Adamson Ahmed, a Paragon One (https://www.paragonone.com/) alumnus. The process was very competitive receiving a large number of applications from around the world. The application was in three stages and was fast-rolling:

  1. I submitted a written application about my passion and interests (June 2022) tfor the Strategy Analysis Remote Externship (https://www.paragonone.com/externships/greenpeace-usa-strategy-analysis-remote-externship)
  2. Due to the quality of my application, I was selected to submit a video response (within four days of the written application)
  3. I had an online interview after two weeks

I was sent a congratulatory message to start my externship and completed my onboarding where I learnt about the program responsibilities and an overview of the host company.

Working with an international team

I had a diverse team of ten externs from across the world: USA, Pakistan, Philippines, and India. I was lucky to be the voice from Africa, thanks to Paragon One’s core value to promote diversity and inclusion. The group of externs was coordinated by Program Manager, Christie Andersen and everything was online, which made it possible for externs to collaborate internationally with Greenpeace USA.

1 Project: Including people with disabilities in climate activism

I was in charge of undertaking research and learning from other organization’s strategies for including PWD and preparing a strategy for Greenpeace:

  • How to include PWD in the volunteering space,
  • How to ensure the voices of PWD are heard
  • What PWD need to be able to get involved in global campaigning and climate activism and feel included in the process.

I created a mind map with disability rights, taking into consideration the involvement and inclusion of PWD in environmental, political, and other kinds of activism and campaigning on global issues, and in particular and how PWD can be included and put into that space so they can advocate for the environment. I based my work on COP26 2021 where there were several issues in terms of accessibility for wheelchair users, and other issues such as lack of funds for PWD to attend conferences and so on. Read on the disabilities issues at COP26 2022 in Glasgow here (https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/multiple-access-failures-at-cop26-send-shocking-message-to-disabled-people/), which ranged from the Israeli energy minister, Israeli energy minister, Karine Elharrar, a wheelchair-user, not able to board the shuttle bus, accessibility entrance closed in the venue (a permanent structure), lack of captioning for broadcast and failure to provide British Sign Language among others.

I provide here a link to the mind map I prepared, along with a brief summary and a recorded presentation on the strategic analysis and the slides.

Link to full mind map (https://miro.com/app/board/uXjVPafHtS4=/)

Summary of my mind map:

  • Definition of disability?
  • The legal protections for disabled/differently-abled people in the USA
  • What is ableism?
  • Challenges that activists/advocates/volunteers with disabilities face
  • Common solutions to make digital spaces (websites, social media, etc) more accessible to PWD
  • Examples of disability-friendly solutions, in particular
    • Web content
    • Events
    • Campaigns
    • Others (e.g. accessible friendly public toilets in cities and accessible public transport)
    • WCAG2Guidelines
  • Main organizations/individuals advocating for more disability-friendly environmental/political activism

2 Project: Comparative Analysis of inclusive organisations & campaigns

The second project I was in charge of was to make a comparative analysis where I identified national and global organizations as well as campaigns. I created seven case studies looking into seven different national and global organizations from across the world that had accessibility strategies in place to include and engage people with physical and cognitive disabilities. The case studies included:

  1. Sierra Club (https://www.sierraclub)
  2. International Disability Alliance (https://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org)
  3. Action Deaf Youth (https://actiondeafyouth.org)
  4. American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (https://www.aaidd.org)
  5. Best Buddies (https://www.bestbuddies.org)
  6. Guide Beauty (https://www.guidebeauty.com)
  7. International Fencing Federation (https://fie.org)

I also analyzed the volunteer-facing collateral such as websites, and promotion materials, as well as the overall volunteer journey and experience to derive some best practices for accessibility in that space.

Based on the case studies, I made recommendations to Green peace USA on how to ensure PWD could feel included in their volunteer journey and climate activism with Greenpeace USA.

My learning from the Greenpeace externship

The three months journey was packed with new experiences where I learnt and gained organizational skills and analytic skills through the tasks that I was in charge of. I also improved my marketing research skills by better learning articulation of brand values, unique value proposition, target audience, marketing trends, market mapping, competitive intelligence and trend analysis. I improved my presentation skills by presenting my recommendations to the company’s lead and that improved my confidence.

How will I be inclusive in my practices

Before the externship with Greenpeace, when Nigeria’s public university started their strike, I had started a series of webinars with a few Climate Change speakers on Zoom, targetted to students in the field. I have to admit that I was not using captioning on Zoom. I commit to change my practices by using the captioning feature in Zoom. Additionally, I will include the following steps into the logistics for my webinar series:

  • Send calendar invites to registered attendees
  • Send reminders to registered attendees
  • Create break-out sessions for small group discussion so participants can have the time to better articulate their thoughts, this will also help in the small group potentially networking beyond the webinar

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