Helen Clark: Keynote Speech at the Women Leaders and Global Transformation Summit

Nov 16, 2016

Women and girls typically face higher risks and greater burdens from climate change, particularly when they are living in poverty. Photo: UNDP

It is a pleasure to join this discussion on the role of women in the transforming our societies so that they become more inclusive and sustainable.

Tackling climate change and achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are huge tasks. Climate change itself is a huge threat to development as it increases the scarcity of resources like water. I just came from the Tafilalet oasis region of Morocco where climate change threatens the elaborate ecosystems which have made human life and food production possible in drylands.

Women and girls typically face higher risks and greater burdens from climate change, particularly when they are living in poverty. The unequal participation of women in decision-making and their unequal access to resources and information compounds existing inequalities. Often women are not included in climate-related planning, policy-making, and implementation. Yet the evidence is clear: women’s participation in leadership, decision-making and community representation are vital for delivering successful climate action and achieving sustainable development.

Supporting women’s leadership and engagement has been central to UNDP’s commitment to climate action. We worked closely with many countries as they developed their INDCs, and support countries to mainstream gender in their policies and actions. Women must be active participants in responding to climate change, and gender-responsiveness must be incorporated throughout NDC planning and implementation.

UNDP’s goal is for all NDCs to integrate gender fully across adaptation and mitigation. Women must have access to the resources necessary to build resilience to climate change. As well their roles as consumers and suppliers of energy, and in key sectors such as transportation and livestock management must be recognised – each of these is an important entry point for emissions reductions.

  • In Morocco, UNDP worked with the government on training for more than two hundred women on the development and requirements of the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and the Third National Communication to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • In Niger, our focus on building women’s resilience to climate change has  resulted in greater female participation in decision making; and
  • In Bhutan, UNDP’s Low Emission Capacity Building Programme built women’s decision-making capacity and promoted low-emission, gender-responsive development strategies.

UNDP is committed to working with national governments and all other partners to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in climate action. By recognizing, advocating for, and supporting women’s leadership at all levels, our joint efforts can ensure that the good intentions of the Paris Agreement actually lead to gender-responsive – and ultimately, successful – climate action.

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