Climate Leader Query: Sara Hill

The 2017 American Climate Leadership Summit (October 25-26) will feature conversations with prominent climate experts and advocates.  ecoAmerica offered some of our guest speakers an opportunity to answer up to three questions related to climate change and what we can do about it.

Sara HillSara Hill is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and was appointed Secretary of Natural Resources for her tribe in 2015 after over a decade of service as the Deputy Attorney General. Her legal career primarily focuses on environmental and natural resource issues for the tribe. Secretary Hill serves on several federal advisory committees advising the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  She will speak at the “Justice & Inclusion” session on Day 1 of the Summit.

What do you wish more Americans knew about climate change?

That climate change isn’t something that we have to accept, and that there are many ways to lessen the impact that climate change will have on our communities. The Cherokee people have seen many changes to the lands that our ancestors protected and cared for over many thousands of years. We owe it to them and to our children to continue the campaign against climate change, which threatens not one nation, but all nations.

What are current climate initiatives or efforts that inspire you or give you hope that we will effectively address climate change, even with the dearth of federal leadership on the issue?

Indigenous people all over the world inspire me every day. Indigenous activists were at the 2015 United Nations Climate Summit in Paris. They are working in Latin America, North Dakota, Canada, New Zealand – indigenous people are working everywhere to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change. They are also doing innovative scientific, policy, and legal work every day to give indigenous people better tools to address the issues we all face. It’s humbling to see the commitment, innovation, and determination in Indian country on the issue of climate change.

What do you hope/believe the American Climate Leadership Summit will accomplish in moving the needle on climate action?

Every opportunity to talk about climate change helps move the needle forward. Americans can too often see only our differences, but I believe we all want the same things – clean water, air, and land. Good economic opportunities for ourselves and our children, and knowledge that vital natural resources will be available for future generations. We want life to be better for our children than it was for us. With that foundation of common interest, I think there are many ways that Americans can move beyond conflict and find consensus to deal with this global challenge.


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