Cancun, Mexico- In the halls of the UNFCCC negotiations its not uncommon to hear calls for action on climate change with colloquials such as “the bus is leaving” or “get on the bus!”. In Cancun however, these phrases have taken on a whole new meaning as those participating in COP16 found out today.

After sitting in a traffic jam along with hundreds of other participants for about an hour and a half from our hotel in the Hotel Zone to the Cancunmesse, the WEDO team finally arrived at the venue, well half of the venue that is! The logistics of this years COP16 see the negotiations and side events/exhibits housed in two seperate spaces: the Cancunmesse and the Moon Palace (at about 7km distance). There are shuttle buses provided every 10-15 minutes and it takes about 30 minutes to go between the two spaces. The setup has proven a bit challenging as participants are required to arrive and leave through the Cancunmesse. If you’re staying in the Hotel Zone (which is closer to the Moon Palace) you should bring along a pillow or maybe extra work you need to finish and expect journeys between 1-2 hours back and forth each day!

Logistics aside, there were a number of very exciting events today which WEDO participated in at both spaces! After attending the daily Women and Gender Caucus and setting up our exhibit booth, the WEDO team, along with IUCN and WOCAN started on preparations for our afternoon side event with the Government of Norway on “Women in REDD: The Missing Link to Success”. With red scarves, dresses, and shoes, our team passed out pins and postcards to raise awareness about the event and the campaign.

There was a great turnout at the side event with participants showing their support by wearing red. The panel, moderated by Jeanette Gurung from WOCAN, spoke of the importance of gender mainstreaming in REDD and provided examples from indigenous community forest management and best practice in national REDD preparations. Some key messages to come out of the event were: the need for civil society persistence and commitment into ensuring women are seen as a major stakeholder in REDD activties; the importance of seeing women as leaders and innovators in this field; and the opportunities for using REDD to further gender equality principles in overall development goals. This event was also used to officially launch the Global Initiative on REDD+ and Gender Equality, an initiative by WOCAN, IUCN, and WEDO which aims to:

a. Ensure that global and national REDD+ efforts are gender responsive;
b. Leverage women’s leadership to mitigate the effects of climate change;
c. Align with sustainable development goals; and
d. Alleviate poverty

In addition, WEDO’s Rachel Harris delivered an intervention on behalf of the Women and Gender Consituency which you can read about here.

Stay here for further updates from the COP16 as well as video clips from our newly created “On the Bus at COP16” initiative, inspired by our estimated four hours of public transport today!

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