For Haiti, the impacts of climate change are an everyday reality which has resulted in
the devastating loss of life, environmental degradation, and political instability. Extreme
weather events, tropical storms, and hurricanes have caused severe flooding year after year, affecting the lives of millions.
Like many Haitians, Joe Marie ‘Judie’ Roy knows better than most the challenges faced in a country devastated by natural disaster. The catastrophic 2010 earthquake took the lives of thousands of individuals and uprooted the everyday lives of millions more. The physical and mental shock of such an event shook the small country to its core and, as Judie says, “almost broke my spirit completely.” “We lost so much,” says Judie, “our people, our infrastructure, and some of our strongest advocates.” Judie is referring particularly to leading women’s rights activists who were lost in the earthquake. In the face of such loss, Judie’s conviction to serve her country and its people has emboldened. “Since the earthquake my goals have become more urgent. I am determined to keep working to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on all human beings, especially women.”
Throughout her life, Judie was always very focused on politics and current affairs. She wanted to understand the political and economic situation of Haiti and the kind of development model which could work for her country. With a PhD in Political Economy and a passion for improving people’s livelihoods, Judie worked with grassroots organizations and community leaders to understand their needs and challenges. She was particularly focused on empowering women and promoting their leadership. Her work and ideas gained recognition and led her towards a life in politics. In 2006, she became one of the first women to run for President of Haiti. “I knew I could not win because I didn’t have enough resources for the campaign,” says Judie, “but I felt I had to run.” Although she lost the election, Judie began working for the Ministry of Environment. Her primary mandate was to mainstream gender into their policy and programs.
This work led Judie to the UNFCCC process. She felt it was essential that there be a woman on the Haitian delegation and that women’s voices be represented. However, she was told there was not enough funding. In 2009, the launch of the Women Delegates Fund provided Judie with the opportunity she had been looking for and since then, she has attended several meetings to speak on behalf of women and her country. In 2011, she was nominated to the Technology Executive Committee as the representative of Least Developed Countries (LDCs); she is one of only two women on the committee.
For Judie, feeling part of a network of women delegates has been essential to her work at the UNFCCC. “In the WDF, the women delegates feel like they are working together regardless of what country they live in. It can be challenging to feel that we have made success in these negotiations— especially when you go home to women and families who have lost everything to natural disasters. But this network of women delegates supports my work and has influenced my effectiveness here.”
Being part of this process has supported her voice and the voice of others to be heard. “People in my country now look to me to provide solutions in times of need.” She is committed to working at the UNFCCC to make sure that least developed countries like Haiti gain a stronger voice in the negotiations.