Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, yesterday moderated a panel discussion on “Women, Peace and Security in the Context of Climate Change,” as part of a panel series on the subject hosted by the UAE, in partnership with UN Women as the Secretariat of the Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
The panel brought together widely-recognised experts on the topic, including Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals; Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women; Susan Markham, United States Agency for International Development Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment; and, Eleanor Blomstrom, Programme Director and Head of Office at the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation.
Ambassador Nusseibeh emphasied the differential impact that climate change has on women, saying, “In the developing world, the impacts of climate change are felt most by women, who comprise 70 per cent of the world’s poor. In these areas, women tend to have limited access to resources and income, and, oftentimes, restricted rights and political voice.” She further stressed, “Though women are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, they remain acutely aware of the needs of their families and communities, climate change will continue to disproportionately impact women, and, as such, the active participation and leadership of women in both creating and implementing these policies are vital.” Majid Al Suwaidi, Counsellor at the UAE Mission to the UN and lead negotiator on climate change, highlighted the UAE’s role in the current global response to impact of climate change, including hosting the Abu Dhabi Ascent, which was a major milestone in the preparations for the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. The UAE has also taken the lead in promoting climate change solutions. This has been through actions at home, but also through international collaborations such as US$ 50 million Pacific Island Fund, which is delivering tangible results in countries such as Tonga and Samoa, and other Pacific islands who are some of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.
Jeffrey Sachs emphasised that women are hit hardest by climate change in poor and rural areas, and therefore must be empowered to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. He stressed the importance of women’s and girl’s access to education as a key to addressing climate change.
Lakshmi Puri recognised that empowering women is central to finding sustainable solutions to both of these defining crises of our time – climate change and peace and security. She added, “women’s participation and leadership in addressing both of these challenges have never been more relevant or urgent.” Susan Markham highlighted the importance of women’s responses to climate change, emphasizing that gender equality and women’s empowerment must be incorporated into adaptation and mitigation policies and programs.
Eleanor Blomstrom’s intervention echoed that of all panelists, recognizing that we must create spaces not only for women to come together to share their ideas and expertise, but also to act and create solutions.
The panel discussion highlighted the vital role that women play in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change, both locally and within policy debates. Panelists provided their expertise on how to best mainstream gender across all climate change mitigation, adaptation, and management efforts by promoting and prioritizing women’s leadership, and participation across all decision-making, planning, and implementation levels.
The series of Panels sponsored by the UAE will substantively contribute to the Global Study to review the progress and challenges of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Each panel will result in a summary, written in partnership with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, reflecting the discussions. These summaries will inform the Global Study, and will be available on UN Women’s web portal. The UAE has also contributed financially to the study.