“The opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of climate change will be lost forever unless the global community changes course immediately…If we do not act now, our children will look back at us wondering why we did not act when we still could have made a difference.”
–Women’s Climate Action Agenda, Introduction
We live at a time of both overwhelming crisis and unparalleled opportunity. A time of bleak destruction and blooming hope. We face not only an environmental crisis, but an existential one; will humanity rise to the greatest challenge we have ever faced, or recklessly defend ‘business as usual’ at the expense of life itself?
Released by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International) on September 9th, 2014, the Women’s Climate Action Agenda provides a bold answer to this question; we must and we can rise to transform a broken system and re-vision our collective future.
The initial vision of the Women’s Climate Action Agenda emerged with input from more than 100 women leaders from across the globe, united at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit in 2013. In its final form, the 80 page document represents the synthesis of decades of academic research, policymaking, and on-the-ground activism and experience in frontline communities.
The vision presented is wide ranging yet holistic:
“The same forces that drive an economy reliant on fossil fuel energy perpetuate the exploitation of workers and Indigenous peoples, compromise community health and the environment, implement environmentally racist policies, and prevent people worldwide from achieving income security and food sovereignty… We need a paradigm shift—for global environmental sustainability, for social justice, for new economies of scale, for respect and understanding of Nature. All four of these factors are inextricably linked; we cannot bring one into stable being without the others.”
Crucially, in both its authorship and its vision moving forward, the Action Agenda bridges North/South divides and encourages cross-sectoral collaboration between academics, activists, scientists, policymakers, businesspeople, and everyday Earth citizens. The Action Agenda does not treat the climate crisis and social and environmental injustice as abstract concepts, but rather recognizes that communities across the globe are already feeling the impacts, and that women and Indigenous peoples are facing disproportionate threats. Deeply aware that we have no time to loose, the document provides concrete solutions and policy recommendations that we can begin to implement now.
Delegates at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit. Photo by Lori Waselchuk.
The Women’s Climate Action Agenda includes sections on fossil fuel extraction and resistance, green business and 100-percent renewables, agriculture, food and seeds, forests and biodiversity, fresh water and oceans, cities and lifestyle, climate finance and economics, indigenous peoples, and women and climate leadership. Each section contains an analysis of the issue and its root causes, an action plan outline, and policy recommendations.
A sample of the key solutions put forth includes immediate fossil fuel divestment, the implementation of legal Rights of Nature, the end to market based climate mechanisms, the localization and democratization of food systems, and the amplification of the voices of Indigenous peoples and women in all decision making processes.
Patricia Gualinga of Sarayaku, Ecuador at the Women’s Earth & Climate Summit. Photo by Lori Waselchuk.
Since it’s release in early September, WECAN International members and allies have been circulating the document widely and striving to build the momentum and alliances needed to implement solutions.
On the ground in New York City in for the United Nations Climate Leadership Summit, People’s Climate March, and Climate Week 2014, WECAN International worked ceaselessly to distribute the Action Agenda to activists from across the globe, as well as to key international policy makers, businesspeople, and indigenous and civil society leaders.
WECAN International Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake with Vaishali Patil, global climate ambassador and activist from India. Photo by Emily Arasim.
On Sept. 22, WECAN International co-Founder and Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, attended the ‘Leaders Forum on Women Leading the Way: Raising Ambition for Climate Action’, presented by the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice and UN Women.
WECAN Executive Director, O.Lake, presents the Action Agenda to UNFCCC Secretariat C. Figueres. Photo by Emily Arasim.
The following day, Sept. 23, Lake was joined by WECAN International co-Founder Sally Ranney, WECAN Coordinator for the Middle East/ North Africa Region, Fadoua Brour, and WECAN Coordinator for Latin America, Carmen Capriles, at the official United Nations Climate Leadership Summit. In attendance as part of a small civil society delegation, the four were able to evaluate proceedings first hand and speak with representatives from across the globe.
Fadoua Brour presents the Action Agenda to John Holdren, science advisor to President Obama.
“We are very honored to have participated in the U.N. Climate Summit,” Osprey reflected after the event, “With our ‘Women’s Climate Action Agenda’ in hand, WECAN members were able to provide an analysis of the root causes of the climate crisis and interrelated social injustices, presenting alternative visions and suggestions for action. We attended the Summit to advocate against false solutions and in favor of transformative leadership and structural change.”
At the two events the women presented copies of the newly released Women’s Climate Action Agenda to several top international political figures, including UNFCCC Secretariat Christiana Figueres, former President of Ireland and current U.N. Special Envoy to Climate Change, Mary Robinson, and John Holdren, science advisor to U.S. President Obama. Throughout the week, WECAN International women were also able to engage with countless grassroots and community leaders, undoubtedly the true heart of the movement for climate justice and solutions.
In the coming months, WECAN International will continue to work to share and implement the analysis and plans of action set forth in the document. The Action Agenda will further serve as a key tool for advocacy work at the 2015 UN Climate Negotiations in Lima and Paris.
The Women’s Climate Action Agenda is available to download and share at: http://wecaninternational.org/pages/womens-climate-action-agenda-2014
Blog by: Emily Arasim, WECAN International Special Projects & Communications Coordinator