Network Principles of Working Together
At USCAN we believe in the power of networks. Building on this belief, USCAN is working to bring together a “Bigger, Better, and Broader” network representative of affected communities and organizations working on climate change across the United States.
In order to develop a movement strong enough to meet the challenge of climate change, we must remain connected and united by our common goals to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions, to increase climate resiliency, to inspire the United States’ positive leadership in international forums to secure equitable, effective climate policies, and to support on-the-ground implementation of climate solutions.
To ensure the network's effectiveness, credibility, cohesion, and advancement toward these common goals, USCAN has developed a set of principles to guide conduct of member organizations.
Guidelines for Conduct of USCAN Members
USCAN members are encouraged to share initiatives and communications with fellow members across the network. Wherever possible, notifications should allow enough time for meaningful feedback. Members agree that any information shared within the USCAN network is confidential until made public by the originating organization(s).
USCAN members are encouraged to participate in meetings of USCAN and its various working groups as appropriate given the member’s interests and resources.
Within the guidelines of the network’s shared mission, USCAN’s staff support the broad array of perspectives and approaches taken by network members. All decisions such as board elections and approval of new members are circulated to the membership allowing sufficient time for meaningful feedback for no less than 48 hours.
Members take responsibility for ensuring that USCAN is a network built on enduring relationships and trust by following these principles:
#1 Be Inclusive
USCAN is a space where a broad and deep network of civil society organizations can establish the relationships and processes needed to achieve transformational change in climate policy. USCAN values and seeks diversity, and rejects any form of mistreatment, discrimination or oppression on the basis of race, color, economic status, gender identity, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or ability. USCAN recognizes that inclusivity is not only about recruiting members of various backgrounds, but also about creating safe spaces that respect and draw on our diversity. We recognize that being inclusive is a learned skill and a personal and organizational process of continuous improvement. As a network, we will be proactive in seeking relevant education, trainings, guidance, and support.
#2 Work Together in Solidarity and Mutuality
The power of the network is derived from the contributions and unique expertise of our local, state, national, and international members. Groups working on similar issues with compatible visions should consciously act in solidarity and, when appropriate, in support of each other's work. Bridging gaps requires respect, cultural sensitivity, patience, time, and a willingness to share knowledge, understand, and work with one another. We need to treat each other with justice and respect, both on individual and organizational levels. While we recognize that progress sometimes requires having hard conversations, USCAN encourages respectful discussion of our differences and the exploration of best possible solutions. As a network, we will strive toward sustained trust and relationship building.
#3 Let People Speak for Themselves
Members will strive to be open about who they represent and about each organization’s self-identified role in the community. Members will respect each other’s rights to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation. As a network, we will do our best to encourage and support balanced participation among all members.
#4 Elevate Community-based Approaches
Members are asked to ensure that the knowledge, experience and wisdom of grassroots organizations are drawn upon as problems are defined, solutions are generated and strategies are laid out. USCAN commits to supporting local leadership of individuals, communities, and grassroots organizations. We will work to increase community groups’ capacity and access to scientific data, communications tools, decision-making, funding, and other resources. As a network, we will support opportunities for collaboration between national and local campaigns and other initiatives.
#5 Make Justice and Equity Central to Climate Policy
We recognize that the communities that currently bear the brunt of the fossil fuel industry are the same communities that will also be the first to be impacted, and are already being impacted, by climate change. These include communities of color, low-income communities, indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, and others. Network members will strive to be accountable to these communities. Justice and equity need to be at the center of policy design. As a network, we seek to recognize the past and current imbalances in power, access, branding, and funding among our members and model a more just and balanced system.
#6 Own the Network
As a member, we ask you to own the network. Be accountable in your actions to yourselves and one another. Participate and engage in our structures and services. Provide feedback loops on the work you’re doing and how we can better support your work. Share information about the network within your organizations. Be an ambassador for the network; help us reach out to new constituencies and organizations and bring them into the conversation. This is your network, and as a network it is your responsibility to create an environment that facilitates our ability to build trust, solidify connections, create shared meaning, and achieve our common goals.
These principles were drafted after reviewing a number of climate and environmental justice principles including:
- Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing
- Principles of Environmental Justice
- People of Color Environmental Justice Principles of Working Together
- Bali Principles of Climate Justice
- Peoples Agreement of Cochabamba
- Everybody's Movement: Environmental Justice and Climate Change - Angela Park
- “And the People Shall Lead: Centralizing Frontline Community Leadership in the Movement Towards a Sustainable Planet”