ACCELERATING SYSTEMIC CHANGE:
IGNITING GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION FOR AN EQUITABLE AND HEALTHY FUTURE
We are urging all governments to declare a Climate Emergency now and act accordingly. Everyday we see clearly the impacts of their inaction. Just this year, the global community has experienced escalating climate disasters, severe droughts, immense wildfires, unbearable heat waves, and torrential flooding. The increasing occurrence of droughts, floods, and other erratic weather events is projected to exacerbate the burden on women in all their diversity who already bear the responsibility for providing their families with food, water, energy, and care for the young and elderly.
In May 2023, the IPCC released its latest report showing that nations must rapidly work to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. However, despite strengthening climate commitments, governments still fall woefully short from reaching the targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement that keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
Governments continue to support fossil fuel expansion and false solutions, such as natural gas, dangerous nuclear power plants, mega-dams, geo-engineering, bioenergy, forest offsets, carbon trading schemes, and carbon capture and storage that have not been proven effective in limiting emissions at the urgency and scale needed. Rather than directing support towards false solutions that perpetuate the existence of the fossil fuel industry, it is crucial to prioritize efforts for a just energy transition. Additionally, it is imperative that countries consider climate adaptation alongside mitigation which is vital as we urgently push for governments to support loss and damage and climate finance for those most impacted by the climate crisis.
To confront the ever worsening crisis, and support frontline communities while advancing toward a sustainable future, we must have cross-cutting approaches and actions to secure a healthy and thriving planet for all present and future generations.
Despite the challenges women in all their diversity face in the context of ever worsening climate chaos, they continue to be indispensable actors and leaders in developing and implementing equitable and effective solutions, demonstrating every day that they have unique and essential ideas and skills to uplift and protect our communities and Mother Earth.
Inclusive participation of women is vital for fostering climate resilience. Studies show that countries with a high representation of women in parliament are more likely to ratify international environmental treaties. Furthermore, for every one-unit increase in a country’s score on the Women’s Political Empowerment Index, there was an associated 11.51% decrease in the country’s carbon emissions. Other research has shown that actively involving women in management and decision-making surrounding local forests, and disaster planning and response leads to more successful programs and projects.
It is clear that women are vital in securing protections for people and the planet. Whether it’s on the frontlines of resistance to fossil fuels, protecting and replanting forests, creating food sovereignty networks, or advocating for bold and transformative climate policies at international forums— women are leading the way!
In addition to supporting women-led solutions and leadership, It is essential to collectively recognize, understand, and transform the dominant social constructs that are at the root of environmental degradation and interconnected injustices. In order to do this, we are calling for a transformation of how we relate to the natural world and one another. We must transition from an extractivist, colonial paradigm to a sustainable, globally-conscious paradigm of ‘respect, restore and replenish’ grounded in climate justice frameworks.
We know we can do better, and that we must act swiftly in the short window of time we have left before irreversible damage. The door is closing, and millions of lives are at risk as governments continue to delay real climate solutions. Governments and financial institutions have no more excuses and must end their delusions with false solutions and incremental fossil fuel phase-out plans. Science is telling us, we must act now.
In the era of Climate Emergency, we must be unwavering in our honesty and our fierce dedication to call for justice and action.
A CALL TO ACTION FOR PEOPLE AND THE PLANET
The following action steps were produced parallel to the 2021 UN General Assembly, as part of the Call to Action from the “Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice: Solutions from the Frontlines and the Protection and Defense of Human Rights and Nature,” organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). The original Call to Action was collectively discussed and endorsed by 150 organizations, representing millions globally, and based on the tireless work, efforts, and frameworks of diverse global climate and social justice movements.
We are calling for action from both governments and the financial sector, as these entities work in tandem and each one enables the actions and policies of the other. The Call to Action is grounded in the leadership, analysis, and frameworks of frontline communities and global feminist movements.
Given the lack of ambitious climate policies and programming, these action steps remain unfulfilled. At the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2023 and in the lead-up to the Climate Ambition Summit and COP28, we are once again renewing this Call to Action, outlining transformative and concrete steps for governments and financial institutions to take toward achieving the global collective goal of a healthy and just planet for current and future generations.
Action Steps for Governments
1. End Fossil Fuel Expansion and Rapidly Accelerate a Just Transition to 100% Renewable and Regenerative Energy
It is imperative that governments align their actions with the Paris Agreement target of keeping global warming at or below 1.5° C. To do so, policymakers must immediately halt the extraction, expansion, and burning of fossil fuels, and implement a Just Transition to a 100% renewable and regenerative economy and social system.
2. Promote Women’s Leadership and Gender Equity
Due to unequal gender norms, women and gender non-binary people are disproportionately impacted by climate change and fossil fuel extraction. At the same time, they are crucial leaders in the transition to a just, renewable future. Countless studies have shown that when women hold positions of leadership at all levels, entire communities and nature benefit.
3. Protect the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The traditional ecological knowledge of agriculture, seeds, and biodiversity held by Indigenous communities is indispensable for confronting climate change, even as Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately harmed by fossil fuel development, deforestation, extractive industries, and climate impacts. In every step of the Just Transition, the rights of Indigenous Peoples must be upheld and the leadership of Indigenous Peoples respected.
4. Protect Forests and Biodiversity
The maintenance of healthy forests and robust biodiversity is crucial to the fight against climate change. Globally, the stewardship of forests and biodiversity lies heavily in the hands of women, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples. The success of forest and biodiversity conservation depends on immediately halting all deforestation and respecting women’s leadership, local use rights, and traditional ecological knowledge.
5. Preserve Oceans and Freshwater and Address Water Security
Earth’s oceans and the hydrological cycle are gravely threatened by climate change. Governments must act now to halt the greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and human exploitation that are destabilizing the water systems fundamental to all life on Earth.
6. Promote Food Security and Food Sovereignty
Hotter temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and extreme weather events are already causing global disruptions to food production and storage. Climate change is a primary cause of food insecurity, even as our industrialized food system drives pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, we must promote the holistic management of our food system, both to mitigate climate change and prevent hunger and malnutrition. Gender disparities in access to land, water, credit, technology and tenure rights inhibit women’s food security. At the same time, women farmers feed the world, and play key roles in maintaining food security. In affecting deep changes to our agricultural system, we must center the leadership of women, Indigenous Peoples, and smallholder farmers.
7. Protect the Rights of Nature
The Rights of Nature is a groundbreaking legal framework that recognizes natural systems, such as rivers, forests, mountain ranges and water bodies, as rights-bearing entities with an inviolable claim to protection and preservation. Although the Rights of Nature is new to our legal system, it is based on traditional knowledge from Indigenous Peoples about how to live in harmony with the natural laws of the Earth.
Action Steps for Financial Institutions
By removing support from harmful projects and re-directing resources into climate solutions, financial institutions can be agents of positive change. In order to maintain 1.5° C of global warming, financial institutions must align their actions with the ambitious emissions pathway set forth in the Paris Agreement and commit to respect human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples at every turn.
Halt financing to any project that would explore new fossil fuel reserves, expand fossil fuel extraction, or build new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Rapidly phase out financing for existing fossil fuel projects. Require existing fossil fuel clients to publish plans by COP28 to phase out fossil fuel operations on a timeline aligned with SR1.5 pathway 1. Decline financing to companies that refuse to publish such plans.
Deny loans to any company or project that fails to comply with a No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy at a corporate group level.
Require all investee companies to uphold human rights in accordance with the International Bill of Human Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Conduct comprehensive direct consultations with Indigenous, frontline, and local communities in decision-making processes in areas where operations impact those communities.
Refuse financing to projects involving false solutions or “net zero” carbon accounting, including carbon capture and storage, nuclear power production and bioenergy.
Acknowledge and redress the role of one’s financial institution in perpetrating past and current gendered and racialized harms against women and the climate.
Invest in and facilitate a Just Transition. Fund dignified, green jobs, and care jobs at every level, especially in community-owned and democratically managed ventures.
Invest in community-led solutions, such as regenerative agricultural, energy, and forestry ventures, led by Global South, frontline and Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and women.