Women must have greater say in tackling climate change – Secretary-General

24 September 2009

Women are especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging that they be given a greater say in addressing the challenge.

In a message to an event in New York on peace and security through women’s leadership, Mr Ban noted that with their skills, perspectives and experiences, women are already responding to the impacts of climate change.

“It is time to involve them as equal partners. When we do, our world as a whole will benefit,” he said in the message, delivered by Rachel Mayanja, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women.

Women are especially vulnerable to the many impacts of climate change, Mr. Ban pointed out, since so many depend directly on the environment for their livelihoods and sustenance.

They are also custodians of community knowledge, with keen insights into how to sustainably manage natural resources, he said.

However, while the UN has succeeded in amplifying the voices of women on a range of issues, including conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, he said the special perspective of women is often overlooked in global discussions on climate change.

“We must do more to give greater say to women in addressing the climate challenge,” stated the Secretary-General.

“I urge Member States to foster an environment where women are key decision-makers on climate change, and play an equally central role in carrying out these decisions.”

Meanwhile, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that the impacts of climate change are approaching faster and sooner, noting losses of mountain glaciers and Arctic ice, as well as the acidification of oceans.

UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner said the report underlines the urgency for countries to ‘seal the deal’ on an ambitious new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the UN climate change conference to be held in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 also found that it may still be possible to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. However, this will only happen if there is immediate, cohesive and decisive action to both cut emissions and assist vulnerable countries adapt, noted a news release issued by UNEP.

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