Radical Ecology is a not-for-profit organisation based in South-West England and networked worldwide, working across culture, research and policy for environmental justice. Ashish Ghadiali - filmmaker, writer and racial justice activist - co-founded Radical Ecology in December 2021. Prior to this Ashish worked as part of the climate justice collective, Wretched of the Earth, and as a member of the COP26 Civil Society Coalition where he educated funders, civil society organisations and open society cultural institutions on principles of climate justice highlighting the racial inequalities evident in the climate crisis. Ghadiali has also worked as Activist-in-Residence at UCL Sarah Parker Remond Centre (SPRC) for the Study of Racism and Racialisation, as Advisor to the Decolonisation and Representation process at The Box and as Strategic Consultant for Climate Justice at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute (GSI).

The organisation was launched publicly at Serpentine Galleries in London in July 2022, reflecting Radical Ecology’s belief that policy only moves at the pace that its cultural foundations will support and our commitment, not only to innovating at a policy and research level, but also to nurturing the kind of intellectual and cultural spaces needed to generate and propagate systemic change that is fit for the needs of the 21st century. Here, the public gathering was immediately preceded by a high level networking event focused on the development of new global architectures for climate finance that brought together the special envoy on climate finance to the Prime Minister of Barbados, the chair of the Expert Advisory Group of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, the director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, Open Society Foundations’ Policy Analyst for Climate and Economic Justice and a small selected group of researchers, campaigners and multidisciplinary artists.

The footprint of our organising activity was subsequently visible in the early blueprints for the Bridgetown Agenda, announced in Barbados a few weeks later and in COP28 where the breakthrough development of a loss and damage finance facility was finally achieved and where, with the support of our strategic communications, which helped to break the story (in The Guardian) of Avinash Persaud’s role as a chief architect of the Bridgetown Agenda, the question of the essential role of addressing the financial architecture in making meaningful progress on climate action began to move towards the centre of the global climate agenda. This work has also informed our collaboration with the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute through the ongoing project of research and public engagement, Addressing the New Denialism, which resulted, in May 2023, in the publication of the groundbreaking study, Quantifying the Human Cost of Global Warming. The paper was quickly established as one of the most widely cited in the history of the journal Nature Sustainability and was reported in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Times, Le Monde and in more than 160 publications around the world.

In support of this work, we delivered significant public programmes including on Migrant Futurism for Refugee Week for the Southbank Centre in London, the contemporary art exhibition, Against Apartheid, at KARST gallery in Plymouth, and a symposium, Black Atlantic, celebrating 30 years since the publication of Professor Paul Gilroy’s seminal decolonial text, also in Plymouth. The exhibition Against Apartheid explores the origins of climate apartheid through the work of international contemporary artists, activists and scientists and is another example of how Radical Ecology works to transform the policy space through civic interventions, where the exhibition has served as the basis for a city-wide and regional debate around the connections between climate change and racial inequity in Plymouth and South-West England.

Against Apartheid served as a backdrop for leading decolonial thinkers including Francoise Verges and Paul Gilroy to address public audiences in Plymouth (in November 2023) on the intersections of racial justice and environmental justice, creating situations that in turn sparked interactions between their work on critical race theory and Tim Lenton’s leading edge work in climate science. Tim also presented at the same public programme in November 2023, before heading to Abu Dhabi for COP28 to launch the Global Tipping Points Report on which we served as Report Framing Editor. An additional public programme (May to August 2024), delivered in collaboration with a fledgling art gallery on Dartmoor, Southcombe Barn, brings leading contemporary artists from across the UK together to interrogate the concept of Invasion Ecology, revealing entanglements between the language of ‘native’ and ‘invasive’ species, as used in relation to the natural world, and histories of empire, extractivism, human migration and violent borders.

Looking ahead, we are now exploring new editions of the exhibition Against Apartheid in Borneo (Malaysia) and Gujarat (India) in collaboration with partners including Borneo Bengkel, Borneo Laboratory and the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, advancing our project to develop and deepen global networks of science, art and activism for a just and sustainable future. We are also convening leading climate adaptation and development experts from around the world as we plan next steps in our project Addressing the New Denialism, where our work on quantifying the human cost of global warming has helped to identify a clear opportunity for better understanding the future of climate vulnerability and economic strategies that can help to mitigate against it.

Radical Ecology is also engaged in various projects and partnerships designed to support the emergence of new infrastructures for environmental justice at a national and regional level here in the UK. Since March 2022, we are the co-convenors (with UCL SPRC) of the Black Atlantic Innovation Network (co-chaired by Paul Gilroy), which brings together leading cultural and heritage organisations, researchers and educationalists across the UK to advance an actionable new policy framework for environmental justice within organisations. The framework examines existing streams of work including EDI, sustainability/net zero and decolonisation and articulates the value in considering these streams as a unified whole rather than as distinct siloes. Members of the network include the National Trust, the Southbank Centre and Plymouth Culture.

At the local/regional level, our new partnership, Diversity in Gardens, brings together organisations including Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support and The Apricot Centre (a regenerative farm based in South Devon), with whom we are delivering activity to address the issue of racial inclusion and access to nature, green spaces and employment in agriculture. As is now typical of Radical Ecology, this approach on the ground is supported by leading edge activity in art, research and policy, through our programmes on Invasion Ecology and Migrant Futurism, which also includes the development of a policy platform interrogating the impact on management and use of public space implicit in the UK government’s policy of creating a “hostile environment” for refugees and asylum seekers. The project aims to demonstrate the role of public space in developing strategies for regenerative economy at a local level and also the alignment of anti-racist values with this regenerative method. In the longer term, we anticipate this local/regional approach connecting with our global scale policy and research work into the economics of climate change and projected displacement in the human climate niche.

We believe that systemic change demands the emergence of new actors capable of engaging and creating communities at every scale – from the hyperlocal to the planetary – and our broad slate of activity is a reflection of that guiding belief.