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Voices excluded from the United Nations Climate Change Conference: “Women are key to solutions”

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“We know that solutions exist to mitigate the worst impacts of the crisis and that women are leading the way. ”

—Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)

(WECAN International)

From October 31, the United Nations will host the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 26) in Glasgow. The conference, which will last until November 12, aims to bring together “the parties to accelerate action towards the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”.

But environmental activists say COP26 lacks adequate representation of the voices of southern and indigenous communities, mainly due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions.

“Many civil society organizations have called for the postponement of COP26,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, founder and executive director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), during a press call on September 22 with politicians and activists to convey collective skepticism. on COP26. “Excluding the communities most affected by the climate crisis will not lead to solutions centered on climate justice. “

Katherine Quaid (Nez Perce, Cayuse, Paiute), Communications and Outreach Coordinator for WECAN, and Hilda Heine, Former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, explained how their communities have been affected by climate change.

“I grew up among the high desert plateaus on the edge of mountain forests that cascade from north to south. Quaid said. “Right now it’s on fire. It’s been months. Climate change has transformed my home and much of the west coast stretching from Canada’s boreal forests, even to the Amazon, into a hellish landscape.

Quaid said the rights and sovereignty of indigenous peoples are central to climate solutions, which is evident given that 80% of the biodiversity left on earth is in indigenous territories. In fact, Indigenous women hold most of the traditional ecological knowledge that has helped past generations to coexist with their environment. As such, the inclusion of indigenous peoples, especially women, is key to understanding how to tackle climate change and envision a world that does not rely on extractive and colonial structures.

Heine also argued that indigenous communities and marginalized populations should have a seat at the table. After witnessing the effects of climate change in the Marshall Islands, she realized the importance of international support.

“Unlike other states and island countries, people in all nations have nowhere to go to retreat – the ocean is in our backyard,” Heine said. “Large community economies have a moral obligation to the weakest and most vulnerable countries that are hit hard by climate change [which] impacts the right to live in our world, our ancestral lands… to maintain and rule over our land and ocean space as a country.

The environmental impacts of climate change described by Quiad and Heine are evident in the latest IPCC report. This report confirms the fears of many: without immediate action, the climate crisis will continue to escalate and have a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.

“We need climate justice now,” said Orielle Lake. “Now is the time to come together to build a healthy and just future, we know it is possible for each other on earth… right in nature.

Find out more: Read WECAN’s call to action statement, signed by over 120 organizations, which was sent to governments and financial institutions to urge immediate and inclusive climate action.

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