Cancun, Mexico– On Monday, December 6th, former President of Ireland and human rights activist Mary Robinson convened a side event entitled “Women Leaders on Climate Change”. This event brought together a group of high-profiled women leaders in the climate change arena including: Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC; Ambassador Patricia Espinosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of COP16/CMP6;  Lykke Friis, Minister for Climate Energy and Gender Equality of Denmark ; Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, Coordinating Minister for Heritage of Republic of Ecuador; and, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action.

The event aimed to engage women Ministers, negotiators, key civil society figures and senior women leaders in a discourse on the role of women’s leadership in the fight against climate change and in promoting climate justice as a strong, fair, and effective approach to climate change.

President of the COP and Foreign Minister of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa stated that, “women in decision-making positions have a clear responsibility to provide leadership in making policies that bring a gender perspective to the climate change issue.”  Further to this, as pointed out by Minister Garces, strong leadership is not just about women sitting in conferences making high-level decisions, but also about the women at the grassroots level. This understanding of women as agents of change needs to be incorporated into adaptation, mitigation, and finance policies resulting from climate talks.  According to Minister Garces, leadership should be about bridging the gap between women at all levels, to ensure the inclusion of justice in outcomes.

Speaking on climate justice and the role of women, Executive Secretary Figueres spoke on the importance of technology and education. “Half of the world’s women still cook on open fires. Therefore to be fair, women would have to own up to the fact that they are responsible for some actions that contribute to climate change. What would be just however, would be to realize that unless and until half of the world’s women are granted quick and affordable access to clean technologies, black soot and deforestation will continue to occur.  Women leaders have the responsibility to push for policies that implement solutions focused on investing in women’s and girls’ education, better technologies which can actually be used by women, and that can be quickly disseminated particularly in rural areas.”

WEDO believes the only true way to face climate change is to promote women’s leadership at all levels to move towards a sustainable future. We actively work to promote women’s leadership and participation through our advocacy efforts at the UNFCCC negotiations as well as through the Women Delegates Fund (WDF) project [The WDF provides support to women from developing, and particularly, least developed countries, so that they can participate as delegates in the UNFCCC negotiations].

We commend the efforts of Mary Robinson and all those involved in the event to bringing this issue to the forefront.

The ‘Women Leaders on Climate Change’ event was hosted by the Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice.

Please see below for video highlights of the event:

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