NEW YORK (October 29, 2013) – On October 27th, Marcela Tovar-Restrepo, WEDO’s Board President, was part of a panel of experts discussing the improvements, progress and future plans of New York City, one year after hurricane Sandy, on the TV channel NY1. She joined Juan Camilo Osorio, a professor at Pratt Institute and research director of the Environmental Justice Alliance of New York, and Bill Ulfelder, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy in New York.

The whole programme can be watched in Spanish here.

Marcela and Juan Camilo both made strong points that the rebuilding from Sandy and the preparation and adaptation efforts cannot only consider the physical effects of a storm and of climate change; communities and socio-economic aspects are as important, if not more so. Marcela acknowledged the strong plans and integrated efforts of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, the blueprint for sustainable development in NYC, and that storms such as Sandy provide the opportunity to mainstream climate change into all city policies.

She also placed strong emphasis on the need to do more in the future to plan together with vulnerable groups within the city, and highlighted that the vulnerability has roots in social and economic patterns, with inequalities affecting many communities. In the future, the city will need to work directly with people in affected communities, especially women, children and older people. At this point, PlaNYC does not have any gender mainstreaming. As rebuilding efforts after Sandy continue slowly, the city should place stronger emphasis on women, ensuring opportunities to rebuild and recover from the devastation, for example in their affected businesses.

In discussing impacts from Sandy and other climate related storms, Marcela identified gender-differentiated impacts. It is often women that are affected by the closure of libraries, daycare centers and hospitals, as they attend to the needs of their dependents. Across communities, the extra time required to travel to work when transportation is affected generates economic and social impacts on families.

Marcela summed up her input in saying that she is optimistic. NYC has great opportunity to implement a sustainable plan that is socially and environmentally equitable.  The administration should be proactive and work more with communities, take a gender-perspective and work with directly with women to be sure that the responses are as effective and successful as possible.

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