Friday, December 9, 2011

Why women are world's best climate change defense

Mary Robinson for CNN (she's the former president of Ireland and the head of a climate justice foundation): Women must make their voices heard in climate negotiations. The role of women as agents of change in their homes, places of work and communities is often underplayed. Yet their role is critical: Women understand the inter-generational aspects of climate change and sustainable development. We women think in time horizons that span the lives of our children and grandchildren. We need to use this understanding to influence the political process and to inject a much needed sense of urgency into the climate change negotiations.

Time is not on our side; report after report has shown this. This is not a trade discussion and we cannot wait until the next meeting or the meeting after that to take action. Time is running out for the planet. 2020 is too late to put a legally binding agreement in place. A legal framework with clear and common rules to which all countries are committed is critically important. It is the only assurance we have that action will be taken to protect the most vulnerable. This COP (U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban) must agree to initiate negotiations towards this end -- with a view to concluding a new legal instrument by 2015 at the latest.

Climate change is a matter of justice. The richest countries caused the problem, but it is the world's poorest who are already suffering from its effects. The international community must commit to righting that wrong.

More: In austere times, world needs a climate change 'Plan B'

For me, a high point of the Durban Conference was that it demonstrated once again the value of women's leadership in global efforts to deal with climate change. The outgoing COP President who did an excellent job in Cancun last year is a woman, Minister Patricia Espinosa. The COP President at Durban is a woman, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane from South Africa and the Executive Secretary of the Convention is also a woman, Ms Christiana Figueres. Collectively these and other women leaders are playing a vital role in highlighting the gender dimensions of climate change....

Mary Robinson with healthworker Nadhifa Ibrahim Mohamed. She has worked in TrĂ³caire's Dollow Health Centre for 3 years and is a certified midwife, Dollow, Somalia. Jennifer O'Gorman/July 2011/Dollow, Somalia, Trocaire, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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