As we move into a new decade and welcome a new year, we are reminded of the power and magnitude of women and feminist globally who are rising, speaking out, and working everyday to build solutions that protect, defend, and restore the Earth and our communities.
The first few weeks of the new year have not been easy. Fires are ravaging Australia and the Amazon, flash floods have proven deadly in Indonesia, and around the world the impacts of climate chaos are being felt every single day. We are in a climate emergency, and in 2020 we will and are working ceaselessly for global climate justice.
On February 5, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network hosted an International Network Wide Call via Zoom, opened by Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director, who facilitated the call from the Coastal Miwok lands in California. We had people join us from all around the world - from Uganda, Germany, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, the UK, to the Tlingit/Haida territories in Alaska.
During the call we shared some of WECAN’s campaigns and programs for 2020 as well as report backs on what happened in 2019. We provided a brief report back of the COP25 climate negotiations, heard from some of WECAN's regional coordinators, introduced WECAN's Regional Action Exchange, and heard from you all about the work you are passionate about in your community. Please continue on for a summary of the report backs and how you can get involved in 2020!
Opportunities for Engagement
Regional Action Exchange
During the call WECAN announced the Regional Action Exchange, a new initiative to unite women to take action regionally while connecting to a global women’s climate justice movement. The Regional Action Exchange is a decentralized and self-organizing platform to provide our network with opportunities to engage intentionally and connect deeply on issues we all care about in our regions of the world. This is a space explicitly for women to learn from one another, look for nodes of potential intersection of work, amplify each other’s efforts, and create working partnerships as is beneficial.
There are a few opportunities for volunteers to support WECAN’s work this Spring, please see below for more information. If you are interested in any of these opportunities please reach out to Katherine at email@example.com, sharing your skills and interest - thank you!
Researcher: WECAN is looking for 1-2 individuals to join our team and work with the Executive Director on upcoming research projects.
Communications Volunteer: This volunteer would work with the Communications Coordinator on the backend of our communications program, supporting tasks as needed.
General: We are always looking for support, if you have certain skill sets you would like to offer please feel free to reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep you in our minds as we dive deeper into the new year and work to build our capacity to support the mission and values of this organization.
Join the Divestment Day of Action
We are seeking network members to join an upcoming day of action as part of the Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition - keep reading down below for more details!
WECAN Updates & Reportbacks
On the network wide call we were able to share a few of our campaign and program areas including, Women for Forests, Divestment, Women Speak and more. If you would like to see a full list of our programs, please see this link. For the call we were also joined by Wanda Culp, Tlingit activist and WECAN Tongass Coordinator from Alaska; Neema Namadamu, WECAN Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Daiara Tukano, a partner in the Brazilian Amazon and COP25 WECAN delegate. Each of these powerful leaders joined us to share some frontline updates on the work happening in their home communities.
Women for Forests - Tongass National Forest
On the call Tlingit Activist and WECAN Tongass Coordinator, Wanda Culp joined us to share with the WECAN network the importance of the Tongass Rainforest and why we all must be advocating for the defense of forests and Indigneous communities worldwide.
The Tongass Rainforest of Alaska is the traditional homelands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples; the largest national forest in the U.S.; and has been called 'America’s climate forest' due to its unsurpassed ability to sequester carbon and mitigate climate impacts. For decades however, industrial scale logging has been destroying this precious ecosystem, and disrupting the traditional lifeways, medicine, and food systems of the regions Indigenous communities.
Currently, the Trump administration is seeking to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 National Roadless Rule, which will lead to devastating industrial logging, destruction of Indigenous life-ways and wildlife habitat, and further harm to the climate. In 2019, WECAN led two historic Tongass delegations to Washington D.C. to advocate for the protection of the Roadless Rule and call for support of The Roadless Area Conservation Act, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Ruben Gallego (D-NM), which aims to prevent logging and destructive road-building in the Tongass National Forest. Watch the video below from our most recent delegation to Washington D.C.
In addition to the Washington D.C. delegations, WECAN also participated in actions in Juneau, submitted testimony during several Roadless Rule hearings held by the U.S. Forest Service, and invited the global community to submit comments in support of the Roadless Rule. Find more details on these actions on our website.
In 2020, Wanda and the WECAN Tongass representatives are looking forward to submitting further testimony at an upcoming Federal Subsistence Board meeting on the Roadless Rule and subsistence living in March. We will also go back to Washington D.C. to follow up on our advocacy work and demand legislators protect the Tongass from destructive corporate interests.
Women For Forests - Democractic Republic of Congo
Neema Namadamu, WECAN Regional Coordinator for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), also spoke on the call, providing updates on WECAN’s Women for Forests Program in the DRC.
Since 2014, WECAN International has partnered with Neema Namadamu and her organization the Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations (SAFECO), to build a coalition of women to protect the rainforest of the Itombwe region, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Our collaborative work centers in South Kivu Province, which hosts two very important forest sites: the Itombwe Nature Reserve and the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (PNKB), both of which have been listed as endangered since 1994 due to pressures from extractive industries and inter-related conflicts. The women of WECAN/SAFECO have successfully started and maintained tree nurseries growing over 25 local tree varieties, which have medicinal, food, fuel, and reforestation purposes. WECAN works with 12 communities of Indigenous women who have planted trees all by hand, with no machinery or equipment. This is providing communities with their forest needs, reforesting damaged clear-cut lands, and allowing 25,000 community members to stop deforesting the old growth of Itombwe.
Through online trainings, on-the-ground workshops, and an ongoing reforestation program, WECAN International and SAFECO are providing a platform for local women to learn, strategize, build, and implement a plan for protection of the Itombwe Rainforest, women’s rights, their rich Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and their communities living in and around the rainforest.
Partner Update on the Brazilian Amazon
On the call, Daiara Tukano discussed the current political situation in Brazil and Indigenous movements. Daiara Tukano is of the Tukano indigenous people - Yé'pá Mahsã, clan Eremiri Hãusiro Parameri of the Alto Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon, and was born in São Paulo. Daiara is an indigenous activist human rights researcher and coordinator of Radio Yandê, and COP25 WECAN delegate.
Since his inauguration in 2019, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has worked to
dismantle key protections and policies that protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and the Amazon in Brazil. His regime's devastating assaults on social and environmental protections has led to a surge in deforestation and Indigenous and human rights abuses.
In the face of his fascist regime, Indigenous women are rising. In 2019, Indigenous women led a historic march through Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, to visibilize the immense power of Indigenous women's role in protecting human rights and defending the Amazon. Please watch a livestream of the march, moderated by Daiara Tukano here: https://www.facebook.com/WECAN.Intl/videos/488034085294643/
In 2020, Indigenous women are organizing again to host another Indigenous women’s march as well as supporting the Free Land Camp (FLC), the biggest national Indigenous mobilization, that gathers, every year, under coordination of regional Indigenous organizations. WECAN looks forward to continuing work with our partners in the Brazilian Amazon and bringing women leaders to the international stage to share their demands, on the ground sustainability solutions, and resistance movements.
Daiara Tukano, also joined WECAN as a delegate to the UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid, Spain where she advocated for indigenous rights, sovereignty, and protection of her traditional territories in the Brazilian Amazon. WATCH this interview of Daiara via Democracy Now! and see the end of this blog for more information on our advocacy work at COP25.
For more information please watch the video below of Sônia Bone Guajajara, National Coordinator for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), speaking out in New York City to denounce Bolsonaro’s attacks on Indigenous Peoples in Brazil and the Amazon and to speak out for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the climate, and the protection of the Amazon rainforest – the lungs of the planet:
Feminist Green New Deal
In early 2019, WECAN International along with several other organizations kick started a coalition of women’s rights and climate justice organizations in recognition that feminist analysis must be part of our discourse on a Green New Deal. In a conversation focused on envisioning a healthy planet and communities, these groups knew that gender equality was-and is-key. A feminist intervention was necessary. The Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal, thus, was borne from collective generation. As a collective, we welcome the opportunity presented by the Green New Deal – and by the efforts of advocates and progressive policymakers – to secure rights-based policies and programs recognizing the global implications of US climate action and inaction.
To truly address the root causes, as well as the scope and scale of the climate crisis, the Green New Deal must be cross-cutting in its approach, steadfast in feminist principles, and strive to combat historical oppressions. It must advance a transformative feminist agenda that centers the leadership of women, and acknowledges and addresses the generational impacts of colonization and anti-Black racism. It must end oppression against and be led and articulated by frontline, impacted communities – especially women of color, Black women, Indigenous women, people with disabilities, LGBTQIAP+ people, people from the Global South, migrant and refugee communities, and youth. Please read all 10 principles here.
In 2020, we look forward to fleshing out and further actualizing the Feminist Green New Deal and are looking for more people to join us in our coalition. If you are interested, sign up for the coalition listserv here: http://feministgreennewdeal.com/
Divestment and the Stop the Money Pipeline Campaign
The Stop The Money Pipeline Campaign is part of WECAN International's "Divestment and Just Transition" programming. In light of the intensifying climate crisis, dependency on fossil fuels and their extraction is a bad investment, and financial institutions have an opportunity to invest in renewable, regenerative energy, which has become increasingly cost effective and necessary as the climate crisis escalates. We are organizing for strategic campaigns and targeted delegations to call for divestment; to stop pipelines, fossil fuel infrastructure, and extraction at the source; and to invest instead in an Earth-centered, just transition to renewable, regenerative energy for all.
On January 10, WECAN joined dozens of protesters to occupy and shut down a Chase Bank branch for over two hours in Washington D.C. to kick off the new "Stop The Money Pipeline" campaign. As part of the organizing coalition, we are demanding that banks, asset managers and insurance companies stop funding, insuring and investing in climate destruction. Watch the video down below.
Throughout the year we will join our colleagues, including 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, Oil Change International, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth U.S., and many others to target JP Morgan Chase, BlackRock, and Liberty Mutual, the top funders of the climate crisis, and demand they divest from the fossil fuel industry. Stopping this money pipeline is one of the most important ways we can quickly address the climate emergency. Thank you to all our colleagues who have been working tirelessly to challenge these corporations to divest - we are looking for many people in the United States to join us for an upcoming Day of Action on April 23rd - learn more here.
COP25 Analysis and Reflections
In the era of Climate Emergency, we must be unwavering in our honesty and our fierce dedication to call for justice and action to halt a trajectory toward irreparable climate chaos. At COP25, WECAN International felt the immense power of our global social movements working toward just climate solutions. Every day, we spoke out, held events, and took action voicing our demands and calls for climate justice. As an organization with an international focus and network, but a United States base location, we stood with many U.S. allies to send an urgent message to the world that, even in the face of a climate-denying and reckless U.S. administration, many people across the country can, and will, stand up for climate justice.
While governments failed to take ambitious action again this year, youth leadership and peoples’ movements rose-up, heeding the call for action by centering frontline leadership and advocating for community-led solutions, forest protections, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and demanding that polluters pay. We saw a vision of what a just climate future could be. We made it clear to governments and corporations that all our struggles are interwoven, and that the only way we can succeed in addressing the climate crisis is with the leadership of Indigenous peoples, women, people of color, youth, and frontline communities.
Please read further to learn about outcomes from the negotiations, our WECAN delegates and advocacy at COP25.
Gender Action Plan
In the midst of much stagnation in the negotiations, there was a shining light — a victory for the Gender Action Plan. The dedication of ceaseless work by the Women and Gender Constituency, feminists advocating at the Party level, and frontline constituencies proved powerful as the Gender Action Plan (GAP) was formally adopted by the Parties, with the inclusion of rights-based language.
“Recognizing with concern that climate change impacts on women and men can often differ owing to historical and current gender inequalities and multidimensional factors and can be more pronounced in developing countries and for local communities and indigenous peoples,
acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality empowerment of women and intergenerational equity,” - You can read the full Gender Action Plan here.
The GAP, which is part of the Enhanced Lima Work Program on Gender, though separate from the Paris Climate Agreement, sets a historic precedent for the inclusion of rights-based language within the policies and practices adopted by countries and will guide gender-responsive climate policy and action for the next five years. As a key demand of the Women and Gender Constituency and our organization, WECAN delegates, Daiara Tukano, Osprey Orielle Lake, and Katherine Quaid were glad to be in attendance when the Secretariat announced the approval of the GAP language before it was formally adopted by all Parties in the closing plenary.
We have deep gratitude for all the gender equity advocates and the Women and Gender Constituency who have worked tirelessly to ensure gender justice within the COP. After years of negotiations, the Gender Action Plan is an important success that will offer some sorely needed leverage for human rights in the Paris Climate Agreement.
WECAN commends this outcome, recognizing the necessity for a rights-based approach to be included at all levels of climate action policy. We will be monitoring the GAP because for it to truly be effective, the GAP must coincide with progressive climate financing, support Indigenous and human rights and biodiversity, and bolster worldwide women’s movements at the grassroots, local, and national level.
Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement