Address delivered by Hon Ms. Lulu Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People With Disabilities to the COP17, Rio Pavillion Closing Ceremony, on 8th December 2011 in the ICC, Durban, (Evening) South Africa
8 Dec 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen
I bid you all a very pleasant afternoon, and a very warm and gracious stay to the sunny shores of South Africa. It has indeed been a great pleasure and honour for South Africa to host the 17th Convention for State Parties (COP17) in Durban, and to have so many delegates from around the world present here for these two weeks.
I want to thank you for this opportunity to add the voices of African women into this session and for providing us the entry point for these voices to be carried into the final negotiations and resolutions that will emerge from COP17.
On the 17th and 18th of November 2011, South Africa hosted a meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Gender/Women’s Affairs in Johannesburg, South Africa, where 9 of the 15 member states participated. At a continental level, the 4th Ordinary Meeting of African Union (AU) Ministers of Gender and Women Affairs held from 2 to 3 November 2011 in Addis Ababa also developed a declaration outlining the climate change issues from a gender perspective.
On 19-20 November 2011, South Africa, through the incoming President of COP 17, Hon Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa, convened in Pretoria, a Continental wide consultative dialogue on the impact of climate change on women under the theme: “Women unite: Towards a fair, transparent, equitable and inclusive COP17 and beyond”.
Climate change affects the enjoyment of human rights, and by extension, the enjoyment of women’s rights. As such, we need to point out that measures to address climate change can also impact the realisation of these human rights and therefore the realisation of women’s rights.
Consequently, women believe that human rights have relevance to policy and operation responses to climate change, such that the human rights obligations (both substantive and procedural) are relevant to the design and implementation of effective responses to climate change, particularly in relation to adaptation and to some extent to mitigation. Promotion of human rights will have a role in promoting resilience to climate change and will reinforce sustainable development goals.
The issue of climate change has come to be characterised as the “defining human development challenge of the 21st century”. Climate change will, among other impacts, increase the severity of drought, land degradation, and desertification, the intensity of floods and tropical cyclones, the incidence of malaria and heat-related mortality, and decrease crop-yield and food security. There is also increasing certainty that, as the climate system warms, poorer nations, and the poorest of them, particularly women, children and people with disabilities, will be the worst affected.
Ladies and gentlemen
Climate smart agriculture is a new a call for action that was launched on the 7th by the President of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, and its spearheaded by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersen and supported by Mr Kofi Annan, Chairman, Alliance of Green Revolution in Africa, Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Jing Ping Chairperson of African Union Commission, Sri Mulyuani, Indrawati Managing Director of the World bank.
These leaders have a vision that will resolve most of the poverty issues that women are facing if this climate smart agriculture could be funded accordingly. I am positive that all the financing models that we are discussing at this COP17 will consider women farmers and benefit them, to make this climate smart agriculture a reality.
Climate change is expected to have profound impacts on human development. The Human Development Report notes that climate change is hampering efforts to deliver the MDG promise, and that the failure to address the climate change problem will consign the poorest 40% of the world’s population – 2.6 billion people – many of whom are women and children – to a future of diminished opportunities.
An explicit concern for human rights within the context of the climate change dialogues would ensure the placing of the individual at the centre of enquiry and help to empower the most marginalised groups – especially women, children and people with disabilities.
Climate negotiations have adopted consensus-driven, welfare-based solutions with an economic orientation, and largely ignored parallel development in the human rights arena. Yet we all acknowledge that climate change threatens:
- the right to life;
- the right to adequate food;
- the right to health
- the right to water;
- the right to adequate housing;
And that climate change is a possible threat to international peace and security.
The women of Africa are urging the COP17 platform to recall the commitments made by the UN Member States at the 4th World Conference for Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995, and in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979.
Women emphasised that, they remain fully and resolutely committed to global and regional frameworks for gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments put forward by CEDAW, the MDGs, and the Beijing Platform for Action, among others.
Women are digging in their heels that their empowerment and the achievement of gender equality remain non-negotiable and constitute core elements of the world’s human rights instruments. This therefore extends into all climate change frameworks, conventions and instruments.
Women also noted that, the impact of climate change has far-reaching implications for Africa’s growth and remain concerned specifically in respect of this impact on women. As such, the women also note that it remains important to ensure that the severity and magnitude of the impacts of climate change on different population groups, especially vulnerable groups, are also identified from a gender perspective, and that further awareness creation on the impact of climate change on these vulnerable groups, including women, be made a priority.
Women are asking that there is provision, especially to women, of early warning systems and adaptation mechanisms. Women form 75% of all environmental refugees in Africa, and more than 85% of people who die in climate–induced natural disasters are women and children.
African women also believe that it is important to allocate sufficient and timely resources and finance to address climate change and food security issues and their gender differentiated impacts. Hence women are asking that there be an improvement on resource mobilisation to assist African countries to address climate change issues.
Africa, however, alone cannot meet the challenges. Thus African women are calling upon the international community to meet their financial commitments made to Africa, especially to assist in addressing climate change, women’s development and achieving gender equality. The Green Climate Fund, administered by the World Bank, and the Global Rio Fund, must be engendered, where women are direct beneficiaries of the opportunities afforded by such resources. Women need to also be part of the decision-making of the allocation of these funds.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy that parties continued considering the text on long-term finance. On session a section on fast-start finance one developing country called for reporting with total transparency while the another country said that new and additional criteria for finance had not been clarified.
This, ladies and gentlemen is encouraging, as countries are considering a discussion and engagement on this difficult subject of financing that will determine our success in dealing with climate change.
The women of Africa are urging our colleagues, the Ministers of Environment African Ministers’ Council on Environment (AMCEN) in particular, to ensure that women’s issues with respect to climate change are placed high on the agenda of COP17 and in all processes going forward.
Having said that, Programme director, I have to mention that as we are “taking Gender to Rio+20” we also need to build on the four pillars of Kyoto Protocol and ensure that the UNFCCC decisions are engendered. This includes ensuring that the Rio+ 20 continue to focus on promoting gender-responsible implementation by:
1.Guaranteeing implementation of adaptation at all levels with gender sensitive approach. This will help ensure equitable distribution of funds that works for both women and men and that will also lead to more effective and successful implementation of adaptation projects.
Encouraging the development of the Climate Technology Centre and Network to identify and implement social safeguards that take into account gender equality. This includes technologies that are accessible to and provides benefits for women and ensures equal benefits for women scientists, innovators and decision-makers.
This includes ensuring that differentiated needs of men and women are adequately addressed in accordance with Decision1/CP.16 as well the engendering of technology mechanisms and related governance bodies in accordance with Decision 36/CP.7.
Ensuring that climate change finance responds equitably and effectively to the urgent needs of all members of society, women in particular.
We also welcome the five references to gender contained in the Draft Governing Instrument for the Green Climate Fund and we hope they will adopted at this COP17 here in Durban.
Finally, it is important to note that a gender perspective is relevant in the implementation of the conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification from two points of view:
Successful implementation of each convention requires a solid understanding of gender specific relationship to environmental resources of women and men, as well as an understanding of gender specific impacts of, and on environmental degradation
Successful implementation of each convention will depend on participation of affected populations, women and men. This equal participation of women, given prevailing practices worldwide, cannot be taken for granted.
On behalf of all women, we are requesting that these voices are taken through:
·the Chairperson of this Inter-Ministerial Committee;
·the Leader of the South African Delegation, Hon Minister Edna Molewa;
·the Incoming President of COP17, Hon Ms Maite Nkoana Mashabane;
·and finally through His Excellency, Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa,
To the final and determining platforms of COP17.
The women have spoken – Programme Director and they reaffirmed the disability slogan that says;
“Nothing about us without us”!
I Thank You.
Issued by: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities
8 Dec 2011
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