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WECAN International Report-Back From GCAS and Peoples Movement Actions, September 2018

Women for Climate Justice on the steps of San Francisco City Hall at the end of the Rise For Climate march – Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International
“We are speaking out on behalf of a growing movement of diverse women for global climate justice. We are speaking out in recognition of the sacred interdependence of all life on Earth, and with respect for the Rights of Nature, and with the knowledge that business-as-usual economic models predicated on fossil fuel extraction have ushered in an era of unprecedented planetary distress, in which life as we know it is dangerously threatened.”- From the ‘Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action’

For several days in mid-September, the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) brought international political, business, and other representatives, to Indigenous Ohlone Territory, San Francisco Bay Area, California to discuss efforts to accelerate the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.

Aware of the extremely dangerous gap between rhetoric and reality within the GCAS – WECAN International joined allied women’s rights, human rights, racial justice, climate change, labor, and Indigenous rights organizations (amongst others) – to seize upon the moment to call out false and inadequate solutions; demonstrate community-driven solutions; and put forward an uncompromising vision for real climate leadership that breaks free from the fossil fuel industry, and is led by those most impacted by social and environmental injustice.

WECAN International team members spent a week on-the-ground in the Bay Area, participating alongside many allies in vital peoples movement actions, events, and activities parallel to the Global Climate Action Summit – and were also joined by various WECAN International coordinators and advisors.

Our work included organizing and marching with a ‘Women for Climate Justice’ Contingent at the Rise For Climate march; holding a press conference featuring prominent grassroots leaders; hosting a full day public event, the ‘Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice’; writing and presenting a vital ‘Call to Climate Justice and Immediate Action’ to the GCAS leadership; advocating inside of the GCAS; and joining allies in the streets for actions to denounce false solutions and corporate greenwashing – and instead lift up community-led solutions, Indigenous rights, rights of nature, and feminist leadership.

Women organizing together in parallel to and inside of GCAS was an opportunity to lift up narratives on the effectiveness of  regional solutions specific to place and local communities, and show how these community-led programs and projects are essential for just climate solutions. We brought forward the question of how women’s groups can and are influencing the political discourse – and can address root causes of the climate crisis and social and economic injustices, thus creating a counter- narrative to business as usual by many elected officials.

Our strategy and analysis at GCAS, and far beyond, is best summarized with the words of our ‘Call to Climate Justice and Immediate Action’, which reads –

“We are calling for a transformation of how we relate to the natural world and to one another. We must transition from an extractivist, colonial paradigm of “exploit and extract” to a sustainable, globally-conscious one of “respect, restore and replenish.” We must rapidly halt the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas, while simultaneously building a new economy predicated on community-led solutions and women’s rights, Indigenous rights, the rights of nature and the rights of future generations.

This starts with policies to promote energy democracy, in which women, Indigenous people, communities of color, low-income communities, municipalities and small businesses are empowered to own and manage our energy resources. We must recognize the inalienable rights and invaluable traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, and follow their environmental justice leadership in climate solutions. Such a plan must also prioritize and advance women’s leadership, as women are disproportionately harmed by climate change while possessing unique knowledge and skills to drive innovative solutions. Finally, we must protect biodiversity, seed sovereignty, and food security, and respect the rights of nature for the forests, oceans, rivers and lands upon which all life depends.

Crucially, we must do everything we can to ensure justice is respected in the transition to 100% renewable, regenerative energy. Any solution that does not safeguard the dignity and flourishing of people and the planet must be rejected. False solutions, such as dangerous nuclear power plants; increased natural gas extraction; mega-dams that cause irreversible damage to biodiversity, food sovereignty and livelihoods; geo-engineering; bioenergy; carbon trading schemes; and carbon capture and storage have no place in the Just Transition.

Finally, we call on all governments to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest, and to immediately halt the criminalization of land defenders, whose efforts are central to a climate-just world.”


Learn more about core actions and events via this recap blog of analysis, resources, photos, and videos.

Women For Climate Justice Press Conference

To begin our week of activities, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action network organized and hosted a live press conference ‘Stories and Solutions From Grassroots, Frontline, and Indigenous Women’, featuring women living and working on  the frontlines of climate change: Kandi Mossett White(Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lead Organizer on the Extreme Energy & Just Transition Campaign with the Indigenous Environmental Network); Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Indigenous Climate Action, Canada); Jacqueline Patterson(Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program); Thilmeeza Hussain (Former Deputy Ambassador to the UN from the Maldives; WECAN Advisory Council Member; Founder of Voice of Women, Maldives); and Antonia Juhasz (Energy author, investigative journalist and analyst); with Osprey Orielle Lake (Executive Director of WECAN International)..

Watch the full press conference here – and learn more via the press conference recap press release here.


Women For Climate Justice In Action For

‘Rise For Climate, Jobs, and Justice’

Women for Climate Justice prepare to march together in San Francisco – Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International

For several months leading up to September,  WECAN International worked to mobilize our global, online network to take action as ‘Women For Climate Justice’ at worldwide, local ‘Rise For Climate, Jobs and Justice’ actions – including by providing a Women For Climate Justice contingent organizing toolkit, and serving as core organizers of the Women For Climate Justice, People’s Climate Movement hub page.

In the San Francisco, Bay Area, California, we also organized a local Women For Climate Justice march contingent, including through the hosting of July and August art builds, in collaboration with the remarkable movement artist, David Solnit.

Women from across the Bay Area joined us in Richmond, to learn art-ivism skills, connect with each other, and prepare signs, flags, and other art pieces for the September march. The second art build was held as a collaboration between women organizing a #MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) contingent; the 1,000 Grandmothers Bay Area group; and WECAN International and women organizing for the Women for Climate Justice contingent.

As with many of the actions and events held throughout September, the WECAN International team was thrilled to be able to strengthen old relationships and build new relationships with partners and network allies in Northern California, where our offices are based!

On the day of the September 8th ‘Rise for Climate, Jobs, Justice’ march,  we took to the streets in San Francisco, while worldwide, over 900 diverse, creative, and powerful actions were held in 95 countries to demand climate action, and a just transition away from the extractive industries endangering the health of our communities and the Earth.

WECAN International Executive Director with allies from Indigenous Climate Action, Amazon Watch, and the Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador – at the Rise For Climate march

The San Francisco  march was led by the original inhabitants of the Bay Area, the Coastal Miwok and Ohlone, alongside other Indigenous Peoples of California, across Turtle Island (North America), and around the world.  Frontline California community members and youth also played an important role at the forefront of the march.

With over 30,000 marchers coursing through downtown San Francisco, the march was hailed as the largest climate march ever to be held on the West Coast.

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network  was honored to provide art and banners, and rally the coalition of women’s rights, gender and climate organizations and individuals to marching as a collective ‘Women For Climate Justice Contingent’!

Several hundred women and allies joined our contingent on the streets of San Francisco, taking a stand for all future generations to live in a healthy and thriving world, and demonstrating women’s collective power to build just climate solutions!

Click here to explore more photos of Women For Climate Justice at the San Francisco Rise For Climate march

The march in San Francisco, and actions taken worldwide, made visible the immense and ever-growing power of peoples movements – and served as important days to continue to gather our hope, inspiration, and collective will to challenge the inter-twined injustices of capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy at the root of the climate crisis.  


Mass Action At The Meeting Of

The Governor’s Climate and Forest Task Force

In the days leading up to the start of the Global Climate Action Summit, WECAN International stood in solidarity and action with our allies during a mass action outside of the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting. The action was organized as part of the It Takes Roots Sol2Sol week of action, and was called to draw attention to the inappropriate and rights-violating conservation mechanisms being posed inside of the meeting, including forest programs, which allow corporations to continue to extract and pollute, while paying for this pollution through purchasing credits in forest programs.

Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation Councilwoman and WECAN International Advisory Council member, during the action outside of the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting

These programs are most often on Indigenous lands, and cause negative impacts for local communities and Indigenous peoples who are the original custodians of the forests, and who have not given consent for the forests in their traditional territories to be involved in carbon trading schemes. Additionally, there has not been proper respect given to studies that demonstrate that the most effective way to protect forests is by investing in Indigenous people.

The mass action sought to highlight the voices of Indigenous community leaders and their allies, who oppose market mechanism approaches to climate change, and are demanding a seat at the table when their lands are being negotiated.

Several hundred protectors filled the streets with speeches and chants, until a representative of the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting agreed to come outside and speak with community leaders, ultimately allowing several Indigenous leaders, including Mirian Cisneros, President of the Kichwa Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador; and Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation Council Woman and WECAN Advisory Council Member, to enter the closed-door meeting and present a vital letter from Indigenous Peoples to the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, and his Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force.

(Left) Kandi Mossett White of the Indigenous Environmental Network speaks out – (Right) Representatives from Indigenous Climate Action and the Pueblo of Sarayakyu, Ecuador, read their open letter to the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting

As we have for many years, WECAN International was honored to stand in solidarity with this Indigenous-led action, to say – stop pollution at the source – and support Indigenous peoples in their rights to their territories and forests.


WECAN International Event – Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice: Women Leading Solutions On The Frontlines Of Climate Change

We need to move forward as women and take our rightful place. What men have done, continuously done to the land, by raping it – they also do to our bodies. It’s time for us to draw the line and tell our brothers it is time for them to stand with us, behind us, holding us up – and do the right thing by following women’s leadership and leaving everything, everything, 100%, in the ground. We need to clean our waters, clean our air and give something better to the next seven generations and beyond.” – Corrina Gould

On September 11th, WECAN International presented the ‘Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice: Women Leading Solutions On The Frontlines Of Climate Change’, bringing together over 30 international advocates, grassroots, Indigenous, and frontline women leaders to present their stories, analyses, and solutions for climate justice and a just and healthy world for generations to come.