The active and effective participation of women in climate change negotiations is necessary for inclusive and sustainable progress. The “Pacific COP” is an important moment promote the leadership of Pacific women in tackling the climate crisis. This is the message underlying a workshop which begins at the Forum Secretariat today.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva (21 August 2017) – Twenty eight women representing twelve[1] Forum island countries are in Suva this week to participate in a climate change negotiators workshop in preparation for their active and effective participation at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) meeting in Bonn (Germany) later this year.

Supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the 4-day workshop will be hosted by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and facilitated by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). This is the second workshop being held in 2017 focused on amplifying Pacific women’s voices in climate diplomacy.

Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Mr. Patrick Suckling shared, “Australia is committed to increasing the influence of women in driving solutions to climate change. Linking our action on gender equality and climate change is not just the right thing to do, it is essential to the transition to a more resilient low emissions future.”

“We are proud to be supporting the Fourth Pacific Women Climate Change Negotiators Workshop attended by the next generation of climate leaders from the Pacific.  This investment takes on new significance with Fiji’s COP23 Presidency and the importance of supporting a strong Pacific voice at the first Pacific COP.”

The workshop is a response to growing evidence of issues stemming from intersections between gender equality and a changing climate, and the critical role women negotiators can play in addressing them.

One participant from the earlier workshop noted, “Women in the Pacific need to come out stronger and have their voices heard. Trainings like this is very important in that regard. It helps women to be able to participate in the drafting of the texts so that their perspectives and experiences can be captured, but also to be able to negotiate the texts themselves. It’s a useful training to have to develop our understanding of climate change negotiations.”

The past several years of international climate change negotiations, occurring parallel to global milestones like the endorsement of the new 17 sustainable development goals, nations have established the need to promote gender equality and protect women’s human rights for effective action on climate change.

“At COP21 in Paris in 2015, women comprised only 38 per cent of participating delegates and only 24 per cent were Heads of Delegations but for the unique perspectives they bring to the table, there is a need in continuous investment in their capacity as effective negotiators,” Cristelle Pratt, the Acting Secretary-General said.

“The Forum Secretariat is proud to be associated with this capacity-building programme for Pacific women climate change negotiators, which also speaks to one of the core values of the Framework of Pacific Regionalism, on supporting inclusivity, equity and equality for all people of the Pacific.”

WEDO, who will facilitate the training, has been supporting the leadership of women in the UN climate negotiations for nearly a decade now via a program entitled the Women Delegates Fund (WDF). The Fund provides both direct travel support to women to attend the climate change meetings, as well as capacity building opportunities such as this workshop.

“Women’s equal participation in climate change decision-making is fundamental to just policies that reflect and respond to the needs of the global community. Investing in women’s participation and leadership in the UN climate negotiations is the first step,” Bridget Burns, WEDO Co-Director said.

Following the training, participants from each of the twelve countries represented will attend the COP23 negotiations in Bonn, Germany. The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be organized by Fiji and hosted by UNFCCC at its headquarters in Bonn.

[1] Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Cook Islands, Palau, Niue, Samoa, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu


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