Outcomes of Continental Consultative Dialogue on Impact of Climate Change on Women

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) hosted a successful two-day Continental Consultative Dialogue on the Impact of Climate Change on Women from 19-20 November 2011 in Pretoria under the theme: “Women Unite: Towards a Fair, Transparent, Equitable and Inclusive COP17/CMP7 and Beyond”.

Women from 25 African countries, representing all sub-regions of the Continent, participated in the Dialogue, which culminated in the adoption of a Declaration. The Declaration consists of a set of recommendations and strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on women.

It is expected that Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in her capacity as President of the upcoming COP17/CMP7, will ensure that the provisions of the Declaration contribute towards a fair, transparent, equitable and inclusive outcome in Durban. (The full text of the Declaration is appended below)

The Continental Consultative Dialogue was preceded by several national preparatory consultative dialogues on the impact of climate change on women. This includes the Women’s Summit held on 07-08 August 2011 in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, and the Women in Media and Environment conference held in Pretoria on 03-04 September 2011.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) recognise the need to promote gender equality and empower women to participate in all facets of economic and social life with the aim of achieving sustainable development. Climate change poses a threat to sustainable development for the rural poor, especially women, who will suffer disproportionately from its impact. It is therefore against this background that the dialogues were held to mobilise and empower women to address global environmental challenges.

The Continental Consultative Dialogue was aimed at strengthening the voices of African women in the upcoming climate change negotiations and to find innovative approaches to mainstream a gender perspective in policies, programmes and other measures related to sustainable development and climate change.

Ms Baleka Mbete, Chair of the Progressive Women’s Movement, provided a summary of the South African consultative dialogues on women and climate change. Ms Mbete highlighted the need for COP17/CMP7 negotiations to take into account the realities of the impact of climate change as experienced by the women themselves. A detailed report of the national consultations is available.

Ms Mary Robinson, founder of the Climate Justice Foundation and who also served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) and first female President of Ireland (1990-1997), addressed the Consultative Dialogue through a video message.

Ms Robinson’s statement, themed Building Effective Partnerships amongst women to secure climate justice: Towards Durban and Beyond”, emphasised the importance of women’s leadership in sustainable development and the climate change discourse in particular. Of importance, Ms Robinson highlighted the linkages between human rights, development and climate justice and the leadership role being played by the Troika Plus in the climate change negotiations.

The aforementioned organisations congratulated South Africa for the smooth preparations for COP17/CMP7 and their commitment to ensuring that women and African women in particular, are given an opportunity to influence the outcomes of COP17/CMP7.

For more information, contact Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road,
Rietondale
Pretoria

21 November 2011

APPENDIX

DECLARATION: CONTINENTAL CONSULTATIVE DIALOGUE ON THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON WOMEN - PREPARING FOR DURBAN AND BEYOND

1. A Consultative Dialogue on the Impacts of Climate Change on Women- Preparing for Durban and Beyond was held in Pretoria, the Republic of South Africa between 19 and 20 November, 2011 and was attended by women from twenty five African countries  (Benin, Botswana,  Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d’Voire, Egypt, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe)

2. Acknowledging and thanking African governments and the various stakeholders for the work that they have done in addressing climate change and its implications

3. Acknowledging that the impacts of climate change is reversing the development gains made to date, and the attainment of MDGs, globally and in Africa in particular, with differentiated impacts on men and women

4. Recognising that women are agents of change and custodians of the environment, including  indigenous knowledge and transformative value systems that are crucial to climate change adaptation interventions

5. Cognisant of all international and regional conventions and agreements, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) as an important African instrument for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, The United Nations Resolution 1325,  AMCEN Strategy on Gender and Climate Change, The AU Gender Ministers’ Declaration on Gender and Climate Change, the MDGs, the SADC Declaration on Gender and climate change, and the African common position on climate change

6. Fully aware of the threat posed by climate change and environmental degradation to sustainable development, with far reaching implications for Africa’s development due to its impacts on agriculture, food security and water availability, particularly in rural areas, despite Africa’s negligible contribution to greenhouse gas emissions

7. Conscious of the fact that Africa has the lowest level of greenhouse gas emissions and yet is the worst affected and its people, particularly women, have the least capability for adaptation

8. Also conscious of the fact that women, whilst carrying the bulk of responsibility for the welfare of families, are restricted by tradition, religious beliefs, cultures and policies, and remain under-represented in decision-making on sustainable development issues, including climate change

9. Stressing the central and positive role and responsibility of women around the issues and challenges of climate change, food security, water scarcity and poverty reduction

10. Concerned by the lack of progress in reaching a fair, balanced and legally-binding global agreement to reverse the current pattern of unsustainable extraction, production and consumption by the developed countries

Declare therefore as follows:

1. African governments must negotiate for a fair and equitable legally binding climate deal which includes mandatory commitments from developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions  in line with the recommendations set out in the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a way that will limit the global average temperature increase to well below 1.5° C and in line with the principle of equal but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities

2. African governments must consider collective sanctions against developed countries that refuse to agree to commit to acceptable emissions cuts, or that violate the commitments that they have made

3. UNFCCC must review progress in mainstreaming gender in all parts of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A similar review must also be undertaken regularly through the AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs)

4. African governments must develop and implement strategies to advance, promote and preserve traditional systems and customs relevant to organic agriculture, and embrace innovation and science to maximize the rehabilitation, development and conservation of the natural environment

5. In order to  build resilience to climate change, governments must ensure that women – women, men, boys, girls, young men and women, people with disabilities and elderly persons – have equal and secure rights to land and natural resources, access to technology and training and agricultural support

6. African Governments and the international community must empower women in planning, decision-making and the implementation of measures to address climate change

7. African women demand to be equal partners as policy and decision-makers at all levels of climate change negotiations, formulation and planning for long term climate change interventions

8. We demand that governments embrace, integrate, enforce, translate and implement international and national commitments on gender equality and equity so as to address women’s lived realities

9. We demand that governments partner with the private sector for it to contribute to the empowerment of women through the development of women skills to address the impacts of climate change

10. We demand that governments enact and adopt gender responsive climate change policies and frameworks and institutionalize gender mainstreaming in all departments

11. We demand that governments establish an effective monitoring system to assess, monitor and report  on the effects of harmful substances and dumping of hazardous wastes on the health and well being of women, children and other vulnerable groups

12. We demand that governments in enacting policies, strategies and frameworks to address climate change impacts address the different vulnerabilities of women, men, boys, girls, young men and women, people with disabilities and elderly persons

13. We also call on governments to ensure women’s access to early warning systems and other vital information and to allow them full participation with inclusive representation of women at all levels in the setting of priorities with respect to community disaster prevention and management

14. A percentage of national budgets should be set aside for women and environmental civil society organisations to be empowered to participate and to fund mitigation and adaptation strategies by women

15. There should be focal points in each country to coordinate access to information on funding opportunities for context-specific climate change mitigation and adaptation projects

16. The capacity of civil society organizations should be enhanced  to access climate change funding by simplifying access mechanisms and disseminating information on the available opportunities

17. A technical committee should be established to conduct research and communicate funding opportunities to grassroots organizations

18. Ensure empowerment and support to community and grassroots organisations to hold governments accountable in implementing international obligations addressing climate change

19. Develop gender sensitive disaster management plans and policies at national levels

20. Develop result-based program planning where civil society organisations become part of the design and planning processes and not as an after-thought

21. Governments must recognise civil society as an important and equal partner in development planning processes

22. The private sector should be incentivized to adopt cleaner technologies and support civil society participation and access to funding

23. That an African Union Position for COP 17 includes the following:

  • Consideration of gender at all levels of decision making
  • Increase youth involvement in climate change issues
  • Involvement of civil society representing women in the convention negotiation
  • Women empowerment (access to land, finance, training and information)
  • Take into consideration the needs of groups whose rights have been violated (women, migrants and vulnerable groups)
  • Create a solidarity fund for African climate change victims
  • Establish a barometer for the monitoring of actions
24. This Declaration, the SADC Ministers’ Meeting Declaration, and the AU Ministers Declaration constitute the key recommendations on African Women and Climate Change issues to be incorporated in the upcoming COP 17 negotiations
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