Hii at CSW 2011: Women, Climate Change, and the Green Economy

As part of our United Nations Liason Program, the Human Impacts Institute will be participating in numerous 2011 CSW side events focusing on sustainability in the upcoming weeks. Please, join us in a community conversation about the topics being discussed: What innovative ways are you seeing women take in your community to promote environmental sustainability, while increasing their economic sustainability?


On February 22, the United Nations (UN) launched the start of its 55th Commision on the Status of Women. In one of the many events and discussions that the Human Impacts Institute (Hii) will be joining over the next two weeks, on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Hii sat in on the UN Panel Discussion: Women, Climate Change and the New Green Economy.

Moderated by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, the event was intended to further discourse on not only the affect of climate change on women, but also discuss the role of women as agents of change and a “new green economy” may provide new opportunities for sustainable change. The Panel was made up of an inspiring group of women in the NGO, and development and policy sector with representatives from the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Use (WOCAN).

With what began as a introduction to new development and education initiatives implemented in Dertu Millenium Village, Kenya, quickly evolved into a discussion began of women’s capacity to embrace and develop the potential of the green economy, particularly in the developing world. Around the world, women are taking up the reins, forming small businesses in the alternative energy sector and helping to provide solutions to issues in community health and sanitation. A great example of this women-led initiative was provided by Soroptomist International (SI). In a collaborative partnership between SI Denmark and SI Kenya, Kenyan women business leaders are being trained in new and upcoming alternative technology and production methods. This knowledge is then shared with over 500 women in community groups around the country, empowering them in their own small-business and income-generating ventures. From this partnership, the benefits are then disseminated throughout the communities.

The topics discussed in the panel are near and dear to Hii’s mission, highlighting the importance of continuing to foster a global community, while strengthening current partnerships and developing new ones. This type of knowledge and experience sharing is key in helping to tackle global developmental issues, particularly sanitation and water.

In every facet of the presentations and discussions that followed, the importance of respect, communication, and sharing of knowledge remained paramount. Other topics in the panel discussion ranged over a multitude of topics, including:

  • The state of dryland ecosystems around the world and the implications for communities whose livelihoods depend on them;

  • Global partnerships between NGOs seeking to strengthen women’s leadership, capacity, and skills;

  • Opening and encouraging networks of communication and knowledge training;

  • Roles and feasibility of low-tech, “eco-smart” technologies in the developing world;

  • Women’s roles and participation in the emerging green economy and climate change mitigation;

In what was an inspiring and diverse opening for the upcoming week, the Panel provided insight into the challenges our global community faces, but also the solutions and hope discovered every day.

By Emily Gilbert, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern

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