Hii at CSW 2011: Addressing Local Interests at Global Sustainable Development Arena

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 environmental and community development issues are most important to you and your community?


On March 2nd, 2011, the Human Impacts Institute (Hii) attended another exciting CSW event discussing women and climate change, called “From Local to Rio: Linking Women’s Low-Carbon Initiatives with Sustainable Development Policy.” Hosted by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), this discussion featured a diverse set of panelists, all raising awareness on the need for women to be a focus of international climate change policy. Each speaker, through detailing her own experience with environmental projects, emphasized the importance of women’s leadership, justice, and innovation when tackling global issues.

With the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, taking place in June 2012, it is important for all women and environmental organizations to start planning for it now. This conference will be a milestone in international actions against climate change, and will be the cornerstone for driving the trends in international, environmental policy for the next many years. The theme for Rio+20 investigates “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development”. The CSW panel emphasized that women must play an instrumental role in the Rio+20 policy outcomes, to ensure sustainable, gender-sensitive policies.

The panel re-emphasized that the best way to achieve a sustainable and poverty-free, “green economy” is by investing in women. The first speaker Nereidge Segala, a Brazilian farmer and President of Ser do Sertao, demonstrated her own experience organizing women in her community of Pintadas, Brazil, against the devastating agricultural effects of climate change. Living in one of the most environmentally vulnerable areas of the country, food security and stable incomes are extremely volatile. Stating that “hunger doesn’t wait for bureaucracy,” she urged any international strategies to respond directly to the voices of the world’s hurting people. As women are still largely in charge of feeding their families, Nereidge emphasized that women’s ideas are the most important in planning a sustainable, food secure future.

Liz Thompson, the UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, was also there to bring her ideas to the discussion on women in climate change policy. She demonstrated the significance that women have in all UN considerations, pointing out that women make up “70% of the 1.3 billion people in the world living on less than $1 a day.” She emphasized that outcomes of Rio+20 must demonstrate an understanding about the people they are affecting, and the empowerment of disadvantaged women to further lead sustainable processes. Thompson wishes for a post-Rio legacy “to transform women’s lives across the world, not with rhetoric, but with tangible projects on the ground,” and this plan of action must be central to all international mitigation.

Overall, Wednesday afternoon’s event was an inspiring collection of women that are leading the fight against climate change. As they attempt to move the world’s lawmakers to a more inclusive and progressive framework, we must stand in solidarity and push for the same goals as well. And as our planet optimistically gears up for the Rio+20 conference next year, the entire population of our people, both women and men, must be in the constant consideration of all global policies and plans.

The Human Impacts Institute will be participating in, and reporting on, many of the Rio+20 preparatory processes. We look forward to developing more partnerships in addressing the needs of communities and promoting equitable representation at all levels of policy development throughout this process.

by Kate Offerdahl, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern

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