When you’re living in community, abundance is possible, but when you’re living as an individual, abundance is never enough,” says Marion Atieno Osieyo, host of the Black Earth podcast. She’s deep in conversation with Valerie Novack, a policy researcher working at the intersections of disability justice, emergency management response and inclusive urban design. The pair have spent the last 45 minutes discussing why disability justice is an integral part of environmentalism, and why centring the needs of disabled people will lead to the cultural shifts desperately needed within deteriorating societies.

This is just one of many captivating conversations Osieyo has with her guests on Black Earth, an interview podcast launched in 2023 that celebrates Nature and Black women leaders in environmentalism. Each episode is a 40- to 60-minute gem, ideal for playing on a commute or a walk or while pottering about at home. Black Earth’s producer, Anesu Matanda Mambingo, skilfully balances free-flowing conversation with a loose structure and interlaces gentle and natural sound design. Osieyo is an environmental leader too, yet remains modest about her accolades, which include serving as Head of Inclusive Conservation at WWF and completing an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford.

This podcast is an intervention in a field that has historically lacked much-needed diversity. Research from Students Organising for Sustainability UK shows that people of colour remain significantly underrepresented across the environmental sector, with just 4.8% of environment professionals identifying as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, compared with a 12.6% average across all professions. The issue is institutional and begins way before people from marginalised ethnic groups enter the workforce. There is also a lack of diversity and inclusion in the ‘feeder subjects’ for environmental careers, with only 6% of those studying biodiversity conservation identifying as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, in contrast to the 26% average across all higher education subjects.

Black Earth underscores the importance of having a diverse range of voices leading the environmental sector. In its two seasons, the show has featured an array of guests, including domestic abuse specialist Evie Muir, clean air advocate Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, and ecological home grower Poppy Okotcha. Subject themes explored have ranged from the prevalent issue of climate anxiety to examining how gorillas and the people around them can coexist in harmony. “We are generating new conversations on some of the most ground-breaking solutions, from planetary health to climate psychology, Afro-Indigenous farming practices and ecological reparations,” Osieyo previously shared when reflecting on the podcast’s progress.

Black Earth podcast by Created and hosted by Marion Atieno Osieyo. Produced by Anesu Matanda Mambingo. www.blackearthpodcast.com.

Diyora Shadijanova is a journalist and writer based in London.