UN Climate Change News, 26 February 2018 – One of the key outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany, at the end of last year was the adoption of a Gender Action Plan, ensuring women have a voice in climate change policy-making. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa renewed her call for raised gender and climate ambition at the Women for Climate Conference in Mexico City today. The UN’s top climate official said that the climate fight would be “won or lost in our cities” and that because of this, the involvement of women at all levels of government, including at city level, was crucial.
Read her full address here:
Mr. Miguel Ángel Mancera, Head of Government of Mexico City
Mayors of all over the world that are here with us
Young leaders of the Women4Climate program
Ladies and gentlemen
Welcome to Mexico City. While I’m fortunate to visit many great cities, this is my home. Here I was born and raised, and from here I went out to explore the world. It is really a wonderful place, multifaceted, colorful, multicultural and exciting. I warmly invite you to experience all the wonderful sights, sounds—and yes, the food—Mexico City offers.
During our cycling event, yesterday, I realized just how much my city has—and continues to—change.
When I was younger, you wouldn’t think of biking on the road. Too many people and too many cars. Either there was no awareness of the effects of emissions from vehicles on the environment, nor were there a cycling culture or regulations to protect cyclists. It was hard to imagine that would change. But it has. Today, thousands use dedicated bike lanes every day. Citizens enjoy family tours on Sunday when the big avenues are closed.
Like many other cities, Mexico City has made enormous progress in many areas that once seemed “impossible”, including in the areas of infrastructure and public transit. Citizens are showing not only that they can do, but that they want changes that result in benefits for the quality of their families’ lives.
The problem with big challenges is that, at the outset, their sheer size and complexity make solutions seem impossible. This can slow progress and breed apathy.
But what we know to be true—what history has always shown to be true—is that if we want change, we must simply get to work setting goals, doing the daily work to achieve those goals, and then measuring the results.
It’s the same whether we’re talking about climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals, or gender issues.
Ladies and gentlemen, change takes time, but we are at a unique point in history when time is a luxury we don’t have.
2017 was a climate disaster. In all corners of the world we witnessed the devastating effects of climate change.
Whether it was monsoons in Asia, hurricanes in Caribbean and North America, or flooding in Africa and Europe, many lives were lost or dramatically altered.
This story continues in 2018. We’ve already seen intense heat in Australia, drought in Africa, and a shortage of fresh water in Cape Town.
On the gender front, 2017 was also a transformational year—a year that saw a wider recognition of some of most deep-seated challenges women and girls face.
A recent report by UN Women reveals the extent of some of those challenges. Time does not permit me to discuss all of them, but here’s one:
More than 50 per cent of urban women and girls in developing countries live in conditions lacking at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing and sufficient living space.
This is appalling. It holds us back from making progress on several fronts, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and, specifically, goal number 13: taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Why do I say this? Because women’s participation is crucial. It’s ridiculous to think the world can tackle climate change if we leave half of the population out of the conversation.
I suggest we must take a different view and recognize that it’s the very nature of this intertwined challenge that provides the best path for solutions.
By empowering women and girls, we can both address a rights issue and give ourselves a better chance to meet our sustainable development and climate goals.
We’re already on the right path, with gender issues formally recognized in the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and it’s reflected in the work that groups such as C40 are accomplishing. This includes initiatives such as Women4Climate.
Your research on the links between gender, cities and climate change are critical to ensure the needs, perspectives and preferences of all people are represented.
I am deeply encouraged by the enthusiasm, dedication and contributions of the young women to this agenda. In this initiative, we have splendid examples of the will, capacity and creativity of young women. That is why I’m pleased to be a mentor under the initiative.
And I will continue to encourage more young women to step up to the challenge of climate change both personally and in their own communities.
At UN Climate Change, we continue to work on one of the key outcomes of COP23: the Gender Action Plan.
This includes a panel parity pledge. It means that when we talk about a topic as significant as climate change, women are provided with an equal opportunity to share their knowledge and perspectives.
It seeks to advance women’s full, equal and meaningful participation and to promote gender-responsive policy. Not at just one level—at all levels.
This means including gender perspectives in the Convention’s implementation, and in the work of Parties, the Secretariat, UN entities, and at all levels of stakeholder engagement.
Finally, UN Climate Change continues to call upon Parties to address gender imbalance within their delegations.
They need to increase the number of women being nominated and elected to constituted bodies. This is especially true of developed countries.
We also encourage all parties to include references to gender in their nationally-determined contributions. Many developing countries have done so already.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s clear that if we want to tackle climate change, women and girls around the world must be part of that fight.
It’s also clear that it’s a fight that will be won or lost in our cities. Our cities and regions recognize this and are responding. They’re creating the change we need while helping others duplicate their results.
This is reflected in C40, but also through initiatives such as the One Planet Charter, which brings together C40, ICLEI, and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.
Together, they’re accelerating the implementation of the Paris Agreement in cities and local governments globally.
Cities are also taking a leadership role in groups such as the Urban 20, which brings together 30 cities to raise the profile of urban issues in the G20 agenda.
This helps cities develop solutions for global issues such as climate action, the future of work, and social integration.
Let’s look specifically at what some cities are doing.
China is developing a Low Carbon City Initiative which aims to improve energy efficiency in industry, construction and transportation sectors.
Delhi has developed a comprehensive climate action plan that will connect with other cities to spur even more action.
And cities such as Athens, Barcelona, and Paris have not only mapped their urban heat, but their vulnerable populations.
Some cities are also pioneering new ways of financing their sustainability ambitions. The Swedish city of Gothenburg won one of our Momentum for Change awards for being the first urban centre to issue green bonds.
All of this is commendable not only because of the results produced, but because it puts pressure on national governments to increase their ambition on NDCs.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that all of us here can agree that any urban agenda has to take into account the inclusion of women and girls, climate change and sustainable development.
The issue of gender inclusion, and of climate change and the sustainable development goals—the prosperity of humankind itself—feed my optimism.
However, there is still much to do. We need to add more actors at all levels in this project.
I’m optimistic that instead of seeing this as an insurmountable challenge, we’ll recognize it for what it really is: an incredible opportunity and a clear path forward to affect real and lasting change.
Our time is now—all of us together—and I look forward to working with you to create a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future.
Together, we can rise to the occasion and inherit future generations a planet that provides them a safe, sustainable environment full of opportunities.