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Today, on International Women’s Day, we would like to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Women.
Indigenous women are one of the most marginalized groups of the world. In peaceful societies, they face multiple levels of discrimination for being women, indigenous and most often poor. They face poverty, trafficking, illiteracy, landlessness and dispossession, non-existent or poor health care and often, violence and discrimination in both the private and the public sphere. We continue to hear reports of indigenous women and girls being raped. This violence is exacerbated in the midst of conflict – and indigenous women are targeted for being the face of their peoples and their cultures.
Yet, the role of indigenous women in peace-building is often overlooked. Examples from peace processes around the world show that women must be included in the formal peace negotiations for them to be sustained. At the same time, in some communities, indigenous women have used peace processes to advance increased participation at decision-making bodies in the post-conflict society. With their experience, knowledge and skills, indigenous women make valuable contributions to peace, and also to reconciliation, justice and healing. We will look at this in more depth during the forthcoming session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues with the special theme of indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution (9-20 May 2016).
Indigenous women are the transmitters of indigenous cultures, their knowledge, and their traditions. They must be part of the solution, and have the resources, recognition and support to enable them to take charge of their destinies as actors and decision-makers.
On this International Women’s Day, in solidarity with indigenous women around the world, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues calls on Member States, UN agencies, programmes and funds, as well as other partners to reinforce the rights of indigenous women; to provide the space for indigenous women to participate in decision-making processes; to support the empowerment and education of indigenous women and girls to become leaders; and to take concrete measures to overcome the violence, racism and structural discrimination indigenous women continue to face.
This year’s celebration of International Women’s Day is the first within the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are confidently asserted in that Agenda as intrinsic to progress.
The new Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals include a specific goal to achieve gender equality, which aims to end discrimination and violence against women and girls and ensure equal participation and opportunities in all spheres of life. Important provisions for women’s empowerment are also included in most of the other goals.
In conjunction with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, more than 90 governments have answered UN Women’s call for action to “Step It Up for Gender Equality”. Heads of State and Government have pledged concrete and measurable actions to crack some of the fundamental barriers to the achievement of gender equality in their countries.
Unanimously at the 59th Commission on the Status of Women in 2015, governments reaffirmed the Beijing Platform for Action. Businesses large and small are committing to, and implementing, shifts in culture and practice that foster greater equality and opportunity. Women individually, and civil society together, have called for lasting and transformative change by 2030.
With these unprecedented expressions of political will, the countdown to substantive gender equality by 2030 must begin, accompanied and underpinned by monitoring of accountability and evaluation of progress.
We draw strength from this solidarity as we face world events such as severe population displacement, extreme violence against women and girls, and extensive instability and crises in many regions.
To arrive at the future we want, we cannot leave anyone behind. We have to start with those who are the least regarded. These are largely women and girls, although in poor and troubled areas, they can also include boys and men.
Women and girls are critical to finding sustainable solutions to the challenges of poverty, inequality and the recovery of the communities hardest hit by conflicts, disasters and displacements. They are at the frontline of the outbreaks of threatening new epidemics, such as Zika virus disease or the impact of climate change, and at the same time are the bulwark to protect their families, work for peace, and ensure sustainable economic growth and social change.
On International Women’s Day, we reiterate the greater participation of women as one of the necessary conditions for an inclusive Agenda 2030. Their leadership is insufficiently recognized but must emerge with greater participation in decision-making bodies. Each one of us is needed—in our countries, communities, organizations, governments and in the United Nations—to ensure decisive, visible and measurable actions are taken under the banner: Planet 50-50: Step It Up for Gender Equality.
We build on the commitments that have already been made by all governments. We also build on the legacy of determined and vocal participation by the small group of founding women from all parts of the world, who were in San Francisco in 1945 when the UN Charter was adopted. They laid the foundation for all that has followed in the struggle for the fulfilment of women’s rights.
The participation of women at all levels and the strengthening of the women’s movement has never been so critical, working together with boys and men, to empower nations, build stronger economies and healthier societies. It is the key to making Agenda 2030 transformational and inclusive.
Happy International Women’s Day.
On 25 September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which came into effect on 1 January 2016 and will carry through the next 15 years. The 2030 Agenda is a broad and universal policy agenda, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets which are described as integrated and indivisible. It promises to leave no one behind and reach the furthest behind first.
2016 is the first year of implementation.
According to the 2030 Agenda framework, the primary responsibility for implementation of the 2030 Agenda is at the national level. On the global level, the High Level Political Forum is the central UN Forum to oversee review and follow-up processes on progress of implementation. The HLPF will be meeting once a year under auspices of Economic and Social Council and every 4th year under the auspices of General Assembly. In 2016, the High Level Political Forum will be meeting from 11-20 July 2016, where discussions will take place on the future framework for follow-up and review to the 2030 Agenda.
Indigenous peoples’ representatives and organisations have several opportunities to feed in to the ongoing discussions leading up to the HLPF meeting in July.
Some important events that are open for stakeholder engagements are listed below:
- 30 March – 1 April: 3rd Meeting of Inter-Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (Mexico) – deadline for application for stakeholders is 21 February 2016
- 31 March: ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2016: From commitments to results – leveraging partnerships for the 2030 Agenda. Information on how to attend will be uploaded shortly.
- 21 April: High-level thematic debate on achieving the SDGs hosted by the President of the General Assembly. Online stakeholder consultations are ongoing.
Read more about Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda here.
Statement by UN Women Executive Director on the adoption of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change18 December 2015, 2:16 am Written by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
(17 Dec 2015)- The historic Paris Agreement adopted by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 12 December provides the long-awaited accord to ‘strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change’. Women and girls are differentially and disproportionately affected by climate change impacts including by extreme and erratic weather events in critical ways - in their access to and use of water and energy, their food security, livelihoods, and opportunities for education, decent work and a healthy life.
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover many crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark commitment, and oblige all countries to respect its provisions: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the 2 degree Celsius pathway; a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening the ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening the ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building.
UN Women welcomes the advances made since the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was gender blind. Expectations have been building in the run up to COP21, with more than 50 decisions by Parties to the UNFCCC with gender-specific references already adopted including the Lima Work Programme on Gender that was adopted in 2014; the creation of the Green Climate Fund, one of whose governing principles is to be gender-sensitive; and work undertaken by UN Women since its inception five years ago to make the outcomes of the UNFCCC processes responsive to gender equality and women's empowerment considerations.
The Paris Agreement constitutes a breakthrough; for the first time, a Climate Treaty in its Preamble commits Parties, when taking action to address climate change, to respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, as well as on gender equality, and the empowerment of women. The Agreement also mandates gender-responsive adaptation actions and capacity-building activities. Furthermore, the Purpose of the Agreement specifies that the global response to the threat of climate change will be undertaken in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. As such it joins the continuum of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its overall framing of ‘people, planet and prosperity’, its Goal 13 on urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts and Goal 5 and related targets incorporating gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout the Agenda.
However, although the Paris Agreement recognizes the social, economic and environmental dimensions of climate change, it falls short of being transformational. Women had expected their needs and contributions as innovators and agents of change to be explicitly acknowledged by gender-responsiveness in the key sections on finance, and technology development and transfer, and that the data and monitoring of climate action would be gender sensitive.
Women of the world now expect that these omissions do not act as a barrier to resolute, gender- responsive climate action. We call on Parties to move ambitiously to implement the Paris Agreement in its totality starting now to fulfill their overarching commitment to respect and promote gender equality and women's empowerment, in and through climate action. We call on Parties to live up to the strong positioning asserted in Agenda 2030 of women as key drivers and supporters of resilience; as beneficiaries and enablers of climate action and as agents of change; as creative, entrepreneurial solution finders in the face of multiple challenges and as crucial partners in investment for a climate-resilient future and a sustainable planet.
To continue to put women at the forefront of climate solutions, UN Women launched two global programmes at COP 21, on Women’s Sustainable Energy Entrepreneurship and Access; and Women’s Empowerment through Climate-resilient Agriculture. These programmes link conceptually and practically to climate change mitigation and adaptation while at the same time enhancing the capacities of women and girls as economic actors.
Accountability has never been more important: UN Women is committed to continue working with governments to support their nationally determined contributions towards achieving the objective of the Agreement as well as their national action plans from now until 2020 when the Agreement takes effect, and beyond. We will work as one UN, along with all other stakeholders, to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that women’s needs are taken into account and their active participation and agency realized in all aspects of climate policy, finance and response.
195 Nations Set Path to Keep Temperature Rise Well Below 2 Degrees Celsius
Paris, 12 December 2015 - An historic agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris today.
The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.
The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate.
Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.
To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.
“The Paris Agreement allows each delegation and group of countries to go back home with their heads held high. Our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual effort. Our responsibility to history is immense” said Laurent Fabius, President of the COP 21 UN Climate change conference and French Foreign Minister.
The minister, his emotion showing as delegates started to rise to their feet, brought the final gavel down on the agreement to open and sustained acclamation across the plenary hall.
French President Francois Hollande told the assembled delegates: “You’ve done it, reached an ambitious agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement. Never will I be able to express more gratitude to a conference. You can be proud to stand before your children and grandchildren.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth.”
“Successive generations will, I am sure, mark the 12 December 2015 as a date when cooperation, vision, responsibility, a shared humanity and a care for our world took centre stage,” she said.
“I would like to acknowledge the determination, diplomacy and effort that the Government of France have injected into this remarkable moment and the governments that have supported our shared ambition since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa,” she said.
Agreement Captures Essential Elements to Drive Action Forward
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:
Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures
As well as setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change.
This builds on the momentum of the unprecedented effort which has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will dramatically slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.
Countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.
Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020
This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.
“The Paris Agreement also sends a powerful signal to the many thousands of cities, regions, businesses and citizens across the world already committed to climate action that their vision of a low-carbon, resilient future is now the chosen course for humanity this century,” said Ms Figueres.
Agreement Strengthens Support to Developing Nations
The Paris Agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations and establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation.
The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.
Governments decided that they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor.
Ms. Figueres said. “We have seen unparalleled announcements of financial support for both mitigation and adaptation from a multitude of sources both before and during the COP. Under the Paris Agreement, the provision of finance from multiple sources will clearly be taken to a new level, which is of critical importance to the most vulnerable.”
International cooperation on climate-safe technologies and building capacity in the developing world to address climate change are also significantly strengthened under the new agreement.
Signing the Paris Agreement
Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on 22 April 2016--Mother Earth Day.
The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.
Cities and Provinces to Companies and Investors Aligning
Today’s landmark agreement was reached against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of climate action by cities and regions, business and civil society.
During the week of events under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at the COP, the groundswell of action by these stakeholders successfully demonstrated the powerful and irreversible course of existing climate action.
Countries at COP 21 recognised the enormous importance of these initiatives, calling for the continuation and scaling up of these actions which are entered on the UN-hosted NAZCA portal as an essential part in the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The LPAA and NAZCA have already captured climate actions and pledges covering:
Over 7,000 cities, including the most vulnerable to climate change, from over 100 countries with a combined population with one and a quarter billion people and around 32% of global GDP.
Sub-national states and regions comprising one fifth of total global land area and combined GDP of $12.5 trillion.
Over 5,000 companies from more than 90 countries that together represent the majority of global market capitalisation and over $38 trillion in revenue.
Nearly 500 investors with total assets under management of over $25 trillion.
Christiana Figueres said: “The recognition of actions by businesses, investors, cities and regions is one of the key outcomes of COP 21. Together with the LPAA, the groundswell of action shows that the world is on an inevitable path toward a properly sustainable, low-carbon world.”
More Details on the Paris Agreement
All countries will submit adaptation communications, in which they may detail their adaptation priorities, support needs and plans. Developing countries will receive increased support for adaptation actions and the adequacy of this support will be assessed.
The existing Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage will be significantly strengthened.
The agreement includes a robust transparency framework for both action and support. The framework will provide clarity on countries’ mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as the provision of support. At the same time, it recognizes that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States have special circumstances.
The agreement includes a global stocktake starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress towards the goals of the agreement. The stocktake will be done every five years.
The agreement includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way.
The COP also closed on a number of technical issues.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, there is now a clear and transparent accounting method for carry-over credits for the second commitment period, creating a clear set of rules.
The first round of international assessment and review process (IAR) that was launched in 2014 was successfully completed.
A number of technical and implementation issues related to the existing arrangements on technology, adaptation, action for climate empowerment and capacity building were also successfully concluded.
On Human Rights Day, a spotlight on regional programmes to end discrimination and ensure women’s human rights in Southeast Asia.
“It’s important to understand CEDAW because it acts as an umbrella, protecting all women across the globe,” said Maria Abrantes, a high school student and women’s rights advocate from Timor-Leste. She attended a 2014 workshop organized by the International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia-Pacific with support from UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality (FGE). Participants learned how to recognize gender-based discrimination and fight for change using the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
“We not only need to be aware of the constitutional and penal codes in Timor that protect our rights,” added Ms. Abrantes, “but we also need to understand that CEDAW is an international instrument that we can use to ensure that all women are protected from discrimination and that our laws respond to this right.”
This activity is one of many undertaken across Asia-Pacific—with civil society organizations and governments alike—to further the implementation of CEDAW. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, this international human rights treaty has been ratified by 189 Member States to date.
In Southeast Asia, all governments have ratified and made progress towards their obligations under the Convention. Fewer have ratified its Optional Protocol; however countries such as Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Leste have done so in recent years.
States Parties must submit reports on their progress a year after ratification and every four years after that. Such reports show some laws have been amended to prioritize women’s human rights, and new laws have been enacted in areas such as domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape, and human trafficking.
National CEDAW training and technical support
In 2013, UN Women supported a series of workshops for government staff in Viet Nam, which led to an increased number of references to CEDAW and human rights concepts in revised laws.
Following a training supported by UN Women in Indonesia, LGBTI and women’s human rights defenders drafted a CEDAW Shadow Report to highlight the rights of marginalized groups. The report was submitted to the CEDAW Committee in connection with the Committee’s consideration of Indonesia’s periodic report in July 2012.
In Thailand, UN Women helped shape the draft Gender Equality Law by sharing international experiences on related laws that comply with CEDAW.
In 2013, UN Women supported the Government of Afghanistan in submitting its first-ever report to the CEDAW Committee, as well as supporting the civil society Shadow Report by the Afghan Women’s Network. The same year, UN Women also supported the Government of Pakistan in submitting its fourth periodic report to the CEDAW Committee, which also integrated civil society perspectives.
After a UN Women-supported training for a network of women living with HIV in the Philippines and Thailand, local leaders addressed the specific discrimination they highlighted. A UN Women and UNAIDS collaboration on the relevance of CEDAW to the HIV response also enabled women living with HIV across Viet Nam to network and improve their advocacy skills.
“After the training, we feel stronger, have a better understanding of each other and are more confident,” said a Vietnamese participant from a national network of women living with HIV. “We found it very important to claim our rights as women living with HIV in the CEDAW Shadow Report.”
CEDAW Southeast Asia Programme
At the regional level, with funding from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, the regional CEDAW Southeast Asia Programme (CEDAW SEAP), has been promoting gender equality in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam and Timor-Leste. Since 2004, it has collaborated with governments and civil society to strengthen their capacity to promote women’s human rights at national and regional levels, while encouraging stronger political will and commitment to CEDAW implementation.
The programme has been credited with strengthening the capacities of ASEAN Human Rights bodies. It also established the first network of gender-sensitive Supreme Court judges and legal practitioners in ASEAN, and developed an online community of practices called Community for Change-Makers.
International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW)
The FGE-supported IWRAW programme partners women’s networks in four countries to support the activism and advocacy of young women around human rights. They reach out directly to their peers and key stakeholders. In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, they’ve chosen to focus on access to education for rural girls and; in Malaysia, on sexual harassment in the workplace; in Viet Nam, they are focusing on intimate partner violence; and in Timor-Leste, on re-integrating young mothers into schooling.
In Timor-Leste, the young women successfully joined forces with other women’s rights activists to develop a CEDAW Shadow Report ahead of the Committee’s review of Timor-Leste’s periodic report in November 2015.
With CEDAW, “I feel like I have a tool,” says 20-year-old Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, of Viet Nam’s Young Women Making Change Group. “When I’m working in women’s human rights, I know I have a kind of weapon.” In July 2015, she was among a group of young women who raised the issue of dating violence at the 61st CEDAW session in Geneva, in connection with the Committee’s review of Viet Nam’s periodic report. The CEDAW Committee included the topic among its recommendations in its concluding observations.
Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women24 November 2015, 5:45 am Written by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
(November 20) Across the world, violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious—and the most tolerated—human rights violations, both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination.
Its continued presence is one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance and we are determined to change that.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women we say again:
It is not acceptable.
It is not inevitable.
It can be prevented.
Although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens, especially if they are implemented in parallel.
Further research currently underway will lead to more definitive strategies and interventions to prevent violence.
We believe that, through concerted action by everyone involved, from governments to individuals, we can tackle the unequal power relations and structures between men and women and highlight the necessary attitudinal, practice and institutional changes.
Imagine how different the world would be for girls growing up now if we could prevent early marriage, female genital mutilation, the turning of a blind eye to domestic violence, abusive text messages, the impunity of rapists, the enslavement of women in conflict areas, the killing of women human rights defenders, or the hostility of police stations or courtrooms to women’s testimony of violence experienced.
We have made progress in improving the laws that distinguish these acts and others as ones of violence and invasion of human rights. Some 125 countries have laws against sexual harassment, 119 have laws against domestic violence, but only 52 countries have laws on marital rape.
We know that leaders, whether CEOs, Prime Ministers, or teachers, can set the tone for zero tolerance to violence.
Community mobilization, group interventions for both women and men, educational programmes and empowerment of women are some of the interventions that have impact, when they are put together with other legal, behavioural and social changes.
For example, in Uganda, engaging communities in discussion of unequal power relations between men and women dropped rates of physical violence by men against their partners by half.
In Myanmar, provision of legal aid services for rural women is improving access to justice and the training of even a small group of male leaders has been identified as contributing to a change of behaviour in some 40 per cent of those in the target communities.
We are doing pre-deployment training for peacekeepers to be more gender sensitive and to better protect civilian populations in conflict areas.
And in the United States, urban police officers trained to recognize the warning signs of intimate partner violence, are making some progress in reducing the numbers of murdered women.
As we launch the Orange the World Campaign today, we already know that tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia, soccer stars in Turkey, police officers in Albania, school children in South Africa and Pakistan, and hundreds of thousands of others around the world, are all in their own way taking a stand.
We now have, for the first time, explicit targets to eliminate violence against women in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These demand accelerated action.
When more than 70 world leaders took the podium in New York at the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on 27 September 2015, the majority named ending violence against women and girls as a priority for action.
It is indeed a priority.
I believe that if we all work together: governments, civil society organizations, the UN system, businesses, schools, and individuals mobilizing through new solidarity movements, we will eventually achieve a more equal world—a Planet 50-50—where women and girls can and will live free from violence.
October 22, 2015
The Green Climate Fund Secretariat and Board
175, Art Center-Daero, Yeonsu-gu
Republic of Korea
Dear Green Climate Fund Secretariat and Board members,
Your upcoming meeting in Zambia will be a crucial one for the history and future of the Green Climate Fund. You will be discussing key policy issues such as the information disclosure policy and the monitoring and accountability framework for accredited entities, two important tools to ensure transparency, participation and accountability. You will also decide the first projects to be funded by the Fund, therefore providing the first opportunity to verify the effectiveness and efficiency of the GCF procedures and interim policies.
One of the key prerequisites for successful implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects by the Fund is the full effective engagement and consultation with all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples. Effective consultation, and engagement of stakeholders are fundamental to ensure “country ownership”. However, in this context, we, indigenous peoples, would like to bring to your attention our concerns regarding the use of the terms “country ownership” and “multi-stakeholder engagement”.
While we are generally supportive of the GCF’s mandate to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change, some of the details both in mission and operations need a great degree of clarification before the fund goes into the project approval stage. We are asking the fund to adopt the best and the most transparent practices as well as match operative terms to appropriate actions.
First of all, we would like to point at the limited scope of the term “country ownership” in the context of the GCF. The Governing Instrument for the Green Climate Fund provides that: “The Fund will pursue a country-driven approach and promote and strengthen engagement at the country level through effective involvement of relevant institutions and stakeholders”. The Business Model Framework decision text from B04/04 reads: “country ownership is loosely defined as a goal of placing maximum responsibility for the development of national programmes and, the management and oversight of resources, at country-level, by a multiplicity of stakeholders and implemented through national government bodies and other public, non-governmental, or private entities”.
However, we note that a simple reference to “multistakeholder” engagement cannot satisfy or guarantee the effective participation of indigenous peoples. This is true for a number of reasons, the first being that we, indigenous peoples, due to our specific situation, are “rights-holders” and our rights to self-determination, land, territories and resources, traditional knowledge, Free Prior and Informed Consent are recognized by the international law, as enshrined in the ILO 169 Convention and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Secondly, our experiences with the so-called “multi-stakeholder dialogues” show that these approaches do not necessarily recognize our specific status, nor they address the asymmetries in accessing the resources and capacities needed to engage at the same level of other stakeholders.
This concern is further compounded by the fact that according to the GCF policies, ensuring “country ownership” would be the sole task of NDAs or focal points, notably governments that in many cases do not even recognize our existence as indigenous peoples and our rights as defined by international standards and instruments. It would be up to governments and implementing agencies to ensure the full consultation with stakeholders at various levels, from the definition of the country priorities to the development of the AMAs, (that in fact should incorporate stakeholder input), as well as ensure adherence to GCF fiduciary standards and envisage a dispute resolution procedure. Hence it would be solely up to the government or the implementing entity to ensure that indigenous peoples are effectively consulted and our contributions and proposals based on our traditional knowledge are properly considered. However, the procedures envisaged by the Fund to verify that these consultations are effectively carried out do not seem to ensure full accountability.
As a matter of fact, even though multi-stakeholder participation is core to country ownership and the GCF’s mandate overall, unfortunately, there is no mandatory and binding language on multi-stakeholder engagement. Instead, we only have “initial best-practice options for country coordination and multi-stakeholder engagement,” as referenced in Decision B.08/10 from Barbados and laid out in Annex XIV of the Barbados decision document. The relevant decision text from B.08/10 reads:
(d) Endorses the initial best-practice options for country coordination and multi-stakeholder engagement, set out in Annex XIV noting that the specific guidance on multi-stakeholder engagement in the context of the developing of funding proposals will be included in the Fund’s environmental and social safeguards;
(e) Urges developing countries, as well as entities in a position to provide readiness and preparatory support, to take into account the best-practice guidelines for the establishment of national designated authorities and focal points and the best-practice options for country coordination and multi-stakeholder engagement endorsed in this decision.
Therefore, as representatives of indigenous peoples, we are requesting to provide a proper definition of country ownership, and in order to achieve true country ownership, to adopt mandatory and binding language on multi-stakeholder engagement that provides the space for consultations with various stakeholders including indigenous peoples.
“True country ownership” also depends on full, effective and timely access to culturally appropriate information. In regards to the information disclosure policy that will be under consideration during the upcoming board meeting, this should include relevant provisions to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are fully and effectively consulted, and engaged. Timely and culturally appropriate information is also critical to ensure the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples in regards any activity that would occur in our lands and territories.
Chapter V of the The Information Disclosure Policy states that “While the GCF is committed to disclosing as much information as possible, the effective functioning of the GCF requires it to protect certain types of information by identifying the harm that disclosure of the relevant information could cause to the interests protected by the exceptions”.
While we recognize the need to protect certain information that may jeopardize the interests of certain parties, we also believe that in order to duly respect our right to full and effective participation and Free Prior Informed Consent, a presumption of disclosure should be adopted for information that has implication on indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. For instance, given the key role of Implementing Entities in ensuring the respect of GCF interim social and environmental standards, the name of entities seeking accreditation should be disclosed in advance to enable a proper assessment of their track record and capacities.
Another issue of concern is direct access to finance for indigenous peoples. We believe that in order to be able to offer our contribution and solutions based on our traditional livelihoods and knowledge, direct access to financing for indigenous peoples should be ensured. We are fully aware of the modalities in which direct access is dealt with by the GCF where NDAs and focal points has the key role, with all the implications that have been described above. However, we are also aware that NDAs and focal points were asked by the Board (9th Board meeting) to select appropriate entities for pilot phase of EDA,that would would directly support communities and SMEs.
GCF B.09/05 Terms of Reference for EDA pilots (Annex II sect. II and IV) offer an opportunity for IPs to apply for EDA since one of the ToRs is:
“support small scale activities with local actors that directly address needs and benefits of vulnerable people and communities”.
The Requests for Proposals (RFP) will be made operational with bids early next year. The Board, also taking into account that Indigenous Peoples contribution to adaptation and mitigation is being acknowledged at various levels, including the UNFCCC, might want to signal to NDAs that these requests for Proposals envisage the possibility of indigenous peoples to be effective and actively engaged from project design, to development and implementation, envisaging the possibility for us to present our own proposals.
Distinguished Board members, we indigenous peoples, have a long standing experience in engaging as active observers and in policy dialogues with international financial institutions and climate funds. This far our capacity to engage with the Fund has been very limited because Indigenous Peoples are not recognized as a separate constituency as the case is in the UNFCCC nor do we enjoy active observer status. Our capacity to fully and effectively engage is also undermined by limited resources to support participation of indigenous observers in the GCF’s board meetings and regional preparatory meetings. Further, there are no mandatory requirements for NDAs, focal points or IEs to fully and effectively engage indigenous peoples in accordance to international human rights standards and instruments.
On the basis of the above, we urge the Green Climate Board to:
Develop and adopt stringent criteria to ensure the effective engagement, consultation and participation of indigenous peoples both in the GCF activities and at country and regional level (such as with the Nationally Designated Authority and the Implementing Entities);
Develop and adopt an Indigenous Peoples’ policy, that would contain provisions and criteria aimed at the implementation of international human rights standard and obligations such as the ILO 169 and UNDRIP;
Produce a report on the extent to which NDAs have this far engaged with Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders in developing their country priorities and providing no-objection for accreditation of accredited entities;
Ensure disclosure of information that has implication to indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. The name of entities seeking accreditation should be disclosed in advance to enable a proper assessment of their track record and capacities;
Instruct NDAs and IEs to ensure that indigenous peoples are given the opportunity to directly access financing under the pilot Enhanced Direct Access program and propose adaptation and mitigation projects based on traditional knowledge and livelihoods. On the basis of an assessment of such pilot projects, and of precedents in other climate financing bodies, the Board should then develop criteria and modalities to establish an Indigenous Peoples direct access fund or financing window.
We finally call on you to provide an opportunity for an open dialogue and exchange of views and sharing of experience on the potential contributions that indigenous peoples can provide in mitigation and adaptation as well as on how crucial policy challenges around indigenous peoples and the obligation to respect our rights can be addressed and solved. Such an exchange could take the form of a workshop for Board members in occasion of one of the upcoming Board meetings.
Looking forward hearing from you as we send this letter.
Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations and Networks and Support Groups:
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), UK
Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN - The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of thr Archipelago), Indonesia
Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI), Nicaragua
Centre of Research & Development in Upland Areas (CERDA), Viet Nam
Centro de Culturas Indígenas el Perú / Center of Indigenous Cultures of Peru (CHIRAPAQ), Peru
Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA)
International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Denmark
Dignité Pygmée (DIPY), Democratic Republic of Congo
Asamblea Mixe para el Desarollo Sostenible (ASAM-DES), Mexico
Sami Council of the Arctic Region
International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
Silingang Dapit sa Sidlakang Mindanao (SILDAP-South Eastern Mindanao), Philippines
Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners (ILEPA), Kenya
Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), Kenya
Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN)
Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT)
Network for Indigenous Peoples of the Solomons (NIPS), Solomon Islands
Porgera Alliance, Papua New Guinea
Maleya Foundation, Bangladesh
Nga Tirairaka o Ngati Hine, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Indigenous Information Network (IIN), Kenya
International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests (IAITPTF)
AIPP (Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact)
Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA)
Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN)
Sonia Foundation, Italy
Non-Governmental Organizations/Civil Society:
Institute for Policy Studies, USA
Friends of the Earth US, USA
Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria
Rainforest Foundation Norway, Norway
Worldview, The Gambia
Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), Bangladesh
Foundation for Gaia, United Kingdom
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), USA
Bonn, Germany, 17 October 2015
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN CLIMATE CHANGE POLICIES AND ACTIONS
Parties should ensure an overarching human rights approach to all climate change interventions, procedures, mitigation strategies and adaption. The operational provisions of the Paris Agreement as well as the COP decisions that will provide guidance for the implementations of the deliberations adopted in COP21 should specifically require Parties to respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the rights of Indigenous Peoples as provided in the UNDRIP, ILO Convention No. 169, the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and General Recommendation 23 of CERD. There are some proposed solutions to climate change such as those under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that have serious implications to the rights of indigenous peoples. Therefore, it is imperative that Parties recognize and respect the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and resources, including their cosmo-visions, subject to their free, prior and informed consent, with the right to say “No”. Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolations must to be protected in their territories from extractive industries and other projects.
Building from the Cancun agreement, clear and robust safeguards must be integrated into any future global climate change Post-2015 agreement. The Subsidiary Bodies should be given a mandate to develop modalities and methodologies on how to fully integrate and operationalize human rights based approach in climate change policies and actions, including the rights of indigenous peoples.
The IIPFCC also takes note of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their specific reference to Climate Change in Goal 13. However, it is important for States to recognize that while the SDGs seek to end poverty and hunger in all their forms, the UNFCCC’s Structured Expert Dialogue report concludes that the proposed 2 °C goal will increase poverty and hunger among Indigenous Peoples. Our food sources, local economies, resilience, and survival are absolutely dependent on the health of the natural world.There must be coherence among a climate change agreement under the UNFCCC, the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction, the SDGs, and international human rights standards.
Parties should take urgent action to tackle global warming and climate change and commit to the goal of keeping the global temperature increase below 1.5 C both in the Paris Agreement and in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Parties should ensure the right to equitable benefit-sharing in all climate change related activities, taking into account other internationally agreed outcomes/instruments on Access and Benefit Sharing including the Nagoya Protocol.
The governments should commit to reduce emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, promote movement towards deep de-carbonization developments such as safe and small scale renewable energy and support other indigenous peoples’ initiatives including by means of appropriate technology transfer within the frames of climate justice
Scientific data shows that the collective ownership and integral titling of land, territories and resources of indigenous peoples, as well as respect for customary use and management are the most effective ways of protecting fragile ecosystems and thereby contributing to adaptation and mitigation. Therefore as regards INDCs, its crucial that Parties ensure the participation of indigenous peoples and agree to include indicators that reflect the commitment to recognize and integrate collective rights to territory, autonomy, self-representation, exercise of customary law, non-discrimination and customary Land Use principles. INDCs should also include commitments to respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights as well as modalities for reporting on national progress to ensure land titling, concrete measures to control mega drivers, the allocation of public funding to the management of indigenous territories.
RECOGNIZE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS TO CLIMATE ADAPTATION, MITIGATION AND RESPECT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ TRADITIONAL LIVELIHOODS
The importance of Indigenous Peoples’ livelihoods and knowledge in contributing to adaptation and mitigation has been re-affirmed by the IPCC, in its assessment report AR5 on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. We therefore welcome reference to traditional knowledge and the positive contributions that Indigenous Peoples play in adaptation in the zero draft text of the Agreement but this recognitionshould be reflected in the mitigation text as well.
An Indigenous Peoples’ Experts and “knowledge-holders” Advisory body elected by indigenous organizations and ‘indigenous territorial governments” with regional balance, should also be established as a technical advisory body and a consultative resource that contributes the perspective of Indigenous traditional knowledge to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all UNFCCC subsidiary bodies, activities, mechanisms and programs especially with respect to Indigenous Peoples’ related issues. Indigenous Peoples should have full and effective participation in Technical Expert Meetings dealing with pre-2020 ambition.
REDD+ activities must be adjusted to incorporate indigenous proposals and initiatives that look beyond carbon benefits and market-based approaches.
ENSURE FULL AND EFFECTIVE PARTICIPATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES INCLUDING WOMEN AND YOUTH IN CLIMATE CHANGE-RELATED PROCESSES AND PROGRAMS AT LOCAL, NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS
Indigenous territories are in the frontline of climate change impacts. Engagement in the international bodies is critical and we urge the governments and institutions to ensure the effective engagement, consultation and participation in climate change policies and programs at local, national and regional levels.Indigenous peoples should fully and effectively participate in Safeguards Information Systems, National Forest Monitoring Systems, National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA), Disaster Risk Reduction and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA), National Designation Authorities (NDAs). In order to accomplish this Indigenous peoples need to have access capacity building and to appropriate technologies.Indigenous Peoples must be part of the loss and damage Executive Committee and must fully and effectively participate in the Adaptation Fund and Advisory Board.
ENSURE DIRECT ACCESS TO CLIMATE FINANCE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES FROM DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Indigenous peoples should have direct access to the Green Climate fund through their representative organizations, building on the experience and precedents of other climate funds and must be able to propose, design, implement adaptation and mitigation projects based on their traditional knowledge and livelihoods.
We call on the parties to support our request for the representation of Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations (IPOs) as active observers within the Board of the GCF under a differentiated category from nongovernment actors. Furthermore, the GCF should adopt stringent criteria to ensure the effective engagement, consultation and participation of indigenous peoples both in the GCF activities and at all levels.
Message by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for International Day of Rural Women, 15 October 201516 October 2015, 3:22 am Written by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
“We must take every opportunity to ensure that rural women do not lag behind, but rather lead the way”— Executive Director
On the International Day of Rural Women UN Women salutes rural women, and joins Heads of State in recognizing the key role they play in the food security, livelihoods, and incomes of households and communities, underpinning sustainable development.
This year’s global review of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action provided precise perspectives across 167 countries of national achievements and challenges, including those of rural women.
In September, as Heads of State and Government met in New York to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they also marked the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action and its review findings, with firm pledges to overcome gaps. Stemming from the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action, the top political leaders of Angola, Colombia, Jordan, Paraguay, Senegal and Viet Nam, among others, highlighted intersecting forms of discrimination for girls and women living in poverty in rural areas. These significantly affected their ability to attend school, plan their families and survive child birth, combine looking after the family and finding water and fuel with other tasks, as well as access basic services.
There is a clear shared view of the barriers that need to be addressed, that was reflected in the individual country reviews of progress and is clearly laid out in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. They include economic and financial barriers to girls’ education such as the elimination of school fees and provision of stipends, scholarships and non-financial support, particularly in rural and remote areas. Legal reforms are needed to guarantee women’s equal right to property and to realize sexual and reproductive health and rights. Increased access to health care is important, as are training and education of health-care staff; and improving accessibility to free or subsidized essential drugs and commodities. Unmet needs for family planning are high for rural women, and without sufficient access to birth attendants, their mortality rate is high. To make the most of diminishing or changing resources, women need to be able to upgrade their skills, through access to agricultural extension services, technologies, training and financial credit.
Where alternative sources of food and income need to be found, the additional work is often done by women. This “unpaid care burden” is compounded by climate-related health risks, water and fuel scarcity and intensified in contexts of economic crisis, environmental degradation, natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure and services.
Women’s participation in local institutions for governing natural resources is critical for sustainable land, forest and water management, as well as for building resilience and planning for climate change and adaptation strategies. Bangladesh, for example, is taking targeted steps to prepare for its known vulnerability to climate change, with more than 19,000 women involved. The number of people displaced from their lands due to riverbank erosion, permanent inundation and sea-level rise are increasing rapidly every year. Increased options for earning a living include livelihood skills training in rice processing, crab farming, fish-net weaving, etc., along with workshops on what measures to take when disaster strikes.
We look ahead to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in December in Paris where the international community will negotiate the global response to one of the greatest challenges to development, climate change.
Constituting approximately 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, yet often without ownership of the land they work, or an authoritative voice in local government, rural women are deeply affected by climate change. Climate change exacerbates the existing barriers and risks faced by women farmers – such as lack of access to land and resources – and creates new ones. Climate variability and uncertain weather patterns increase the risk of crop damage, lowering agricultural productivity and increasing food insecurity.
A report released this week by UN Women and partners shows that the evidence for the gender gap in agriculture is growing across countries. Addressing the adverse effects of climate change through climate-resilient agriculture strategies and natural resource management is increasingly important for securing rural women’s rights, empowerment, and well-being.
Agenda 2030 recognizes the role of rural women and pledges to “devote resources to developing rural areas and sustainable agriculture and fisheries, supporting smallholder farmers, especially women farmers, herders and fishers in developing countries, particularly least developed countries”.
As we launch Agenda 2030 globally and locally, we must learn from the lessons of implementing the Beijing Platform for Action and the MDGs. We have an unparalleled opportunity and commitment to end poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, and guarantee sustainable livelihoods by investing in rural women and climate-resilient agriculture.
Agenda 2030 envisages a “world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed”. We must take every opportunity to ensure that rural women do not lag behind, but rather lead the way.