NEW YORK (April 11, 2014) – On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, as part of the EWA program, WEDO was proud to host a side event alongside, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD), and Equidad de Género entitled “Sustainable Solutions to Ending Climate Chaos – how to make 2015 mean something!” The event was well attended with many participating virtually through Twitter using the hashtag #climatechaos, which you can read from the event Storify.

The premise for this event was: a truly transformative post-2015 development agenda- which works to ensure women’s human rights and gender equality- requires urgent, ambitious and legally binding action to combat climate change.

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the world’s most pressing issues- the impacts of which are already eroding the achievement of sustainable development and poverty eradication for regions, countries and people around the globe- threatening to exacerbate already growing inequality worldwide. Climate change must be understood as a key threat to the achievement of gender equality, women’s human rights and any future sustainable development goals / post-2015 development agenda.

Additionally though, understanding climate justice is not possible without examining macro-economic policies, trade and financial architecture and global governance systems which drive unsustainable consumption and production patterns, promote gross inequality and lead to climate chaos.

With inputs from a diverse group of activists and practitioners, the side event provided an overview of the links between climate change and gender equality, analyzed the current climate change policy landscape and crucial links to the Post-2015/ SDG processes, discussed the impacts of trade negotiations and equitable financing for climate mitigation and adaptation, and explored sustainable solutions and key opportunities for mobilization.

Bridget Burns of WEDO, based in the USA, gave an overview of our current climate reality, a path to a 4 degree warming world, and what the major opportunities/ challenges in the UNFCCC climate negotiations are- highlighting the progress on gender equality vs. the progress on ambitious commitments by Governments to meet the emissions reductions which science tells us is needed. She pointed out that 2015 will be a year of crucial decisions not only for climate change, but also for other international agendas, such as the Post-2015/SDG process.

Following this, Gertrude Kenyangi of Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), based in Uganda, presented on community led initiatives in agro-forestry, focused on the benefits of local farmer-led innovative solutions versus those led by large-scale chemical agriculture.

Kalyani Raj of All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), based in India, highlighted solar power and renewable energy initiatives led by AIWC which focus on the participation and economic empowerment of women.

Tessa Khan of the Asian Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), based in Thailand, provided a good insight into financial mechanisms and the macro-economic environment, both being key factors when looking at solutions for climate change impacts. Given the insufficient levels of official development assistance and the disproportionate powerful roles of corporations regarding climate finance, Tessa emphasized climate finance must be seen as a matter of moral and legal obligation on part of developed countries; not an act of charity. She also emphasized and challenged the increasingly prominent role of private sector in UNFCCC negotiations (e.g. Warsaw) and in the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Anke Stock of WECF, based in Germany, made a presentation on the links between climate change, gender equality and human rights and highlighted key entry points for human rights within international negotiations around climate change and sustainable development.

Finally, Emilia Reyes from Equidad de Genero, based in Mexico, closed the session linking back to the overarching way in which structural issues deepen inequalities, such as those that are evident in domestic and care work not evidenced and recognized in the global agendas.

The follow-up discussion with the audience was showed a deep interest of participants in the local sustainable solutions presented and raised the question of how to provide these solutions existing around the world a platform for international recognition and integration into international policy processes.

Networking Event

Following this side event, WEDO opened its doors for a “Mobilizing for Climate Action” Networking event. It was an opportunity for feminist and climate activists to meet, share, learn and spark action for mobilization and impact in 2014, particularly on the road to COP20 in Lima and COP21 in Paris.

WEDO presented a key timeline of dates for drafting the new climate change agreement and engaged participants in dialogue on how multiple alliances can work together for ambitious climate action.

See photos from the networking event and side event by clicking below:

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Other Events

Besides these events, the WEDO team participated in several partner events. On Sunday, March 9th, Eleanor Blomstrom spoke at the NGO/CSW Consultation Day on a panel looking at “Cities for Sustainable Development and Women’s Human Rights”. Eleanor highlighted the importance of women’s full and inclusive participation in all aspects of planning and decision-making as well as the need to build resilient cities so that when environmental disaster strikes, citizens are not subjected to increased levels of violence due to heightened instability.

Next, on Friday, March 14th, Eleanor Blomstrom spoke on a panel hosted by FOKUS (Forum for Women and Development) looking at “Gendered Economic Empowerment & Climate Change: Connecting the Dots”. Eleanor highlighted the WEDO’s work and the work of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), in promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality in the realm of climate policy and addressed specific gender-sensitive approached to climate actions.

On Monday, March 17th, Eleanor joined colleagues from the Heinrich Boll Foundation – North America for an event entitled, “Double Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Climate Change in Post-2015 Sustainable Development Approaches”. At this event, Eleanor presented recent analysis from the Women’s Major Group on critical elements of a transformative and human rights based post-2015 development agenda. A full report of this event can be found here.

Finally, on Wednesday, March 19th, Bridget Burns joined fellow activists from AWID’s Young Feminist Wire as a panelist on their Guest on the Wire series– this time for a session on “Women’s Rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”. Bridget shared her experiences working across the SDGs, climate change and other parallel processes, collaborating among activists in the Women’s Major Group and the challenges/ opportunities for young feminist’s engagement in these spaces.

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