International Women's Earth and Climate Initiative Summit

Claire van Herpen

Chain Reaction #119, Nov 2013,

"Women of the World Call for Urgent Action on Climate Change & Sustainability Solutions"

Policymakers, scientists, businesswomen, Indigenous Leaders and environmental activists from across the globe gathered in New York on September 23rd for the International Women's Earth and Climate Initiative (IWECI) Summit.

The three-day summit took place on the eve of Climate Week and the United Nations General Assembly session, and as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepared to release its much anticipated Fifth Assessment Report. The summit brought together a diverse mix of women from all over the world – 50 from the global south and 50 from the global north - to engage in an important dialogue centred on building momentum, increasing funding and bringing about policy changes necessary for substantive action on climate change and sustainability solutions.

Unified by the 'Declaration Statement for Urgent Action on Climate Change and Sustainability Solutions,' the goal of the summit was to collectively form the Women's Climate Action Agenda, a framework for implementing solutions while focussing on the Rights of Women, as well as the Rights of Nature, Indigenous Peoples and Future Generations. Carbon pricing, fossil fuel divestment, protection of our oceans. women's empowerment, energy access, climate justice, food sovereignty, water security, rights of nature and system change were amongst the key issues discussed.

Keynote speakers included Jane Goodall - founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and U.N. Ambassador of Peace, Jody William - Nobel Prize laureate, women's rights and anti-landmine activist, and Christiana Figueres - Executive Secretary to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

The Summit brought together community leaders from across the globe and provided them with a platform to discuss their on the ground experiences and solutions. Osprey Orielle Lake, the founder and co-director of the IWECI and head of the Women's Earth and Climate Caucus (, noted that the Summit delegates are accomplished leaders in their fields, yet are rarely given the opportunity to converse together at this level. "The result is an unprecedented collaboration, representing 33 million women and men around the world who are fiercely dedicated to a just transition to a clean energy future and to transforming how we are living with the earth and each other."

Research shows that women are the most negatively impacted by climate change and environmental degradation, but they can also provide the key to finding meaningful solutions. Lake noted "it's important to understand that women are central stakeholders- as an example, between sixty and eighty per cent of household food production in developing countries is done by women".

Sally A. Ranney, Co-Founder of the IWECI acknowledged the huge potential for people-led movements which engage women worldwide to unite and take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions. "We represent a constituency of 33 million women and men, already mobilized and ready to take action. We vote, we march, we petition, we have purchasing power. We will be heard and we will make change, so that future generations can have a liveable planet,"

Summit delegates will finalise the Women's Climate Action Agenda over the coming weeks and plan for collective actions in 2014.

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Claire van Herpen is a Melbourne-based member of FoE's Climate Frontlines Campaign.