Arab governments show foresight over climate change and gender equality

12 November 2009 | News story

With a firm agreement elusive in the countdown to the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen next month, the ability of local communities in the Arab region to fight the negative effects of climate change hang in the balance.

In a region already burdened by conflict and water insecurity, the lack of an immediate, binding and adequately financed agreement in Copenhagen that allows for action to be taken on the ground will prove to be disastrous.

This was the message from IUCN’s Senior Global Gender Advisor, Lorena Aguilar, at the opening of the West Asia ‘training of trainers’ on gender and climate change which is being held this week by IUCN on behalf of the Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA) in Amman, Jordan.

“Providing funding for implementation has now become a matter of life and death for many communities,” said Aguilar. “We are out of time, and people - mostly women - are suffering terribly due to our inability to act. It is critical to ensure that we put finance mechanisms in place that allow communities to adapt to the onslaught of climate change in a fast and effective manner and that can only be done on the back of a binding agreement in Copenhagen. We already know how to do this and can draw on successes in other sectors such as disaster risk reduction,” continued Aguilar. “Including women in climate change discussions, the design and implementation of projects and decision making is fundamental. Women are proven agents of change, they have a repertoire of coping strategies in various areas and also take a more altruistic view on matters affecting the community.”

The West Asia training is the 18th workshop in a series being held around the world to strengthen capacity and enhance understanding of the links between gender and climate change within the context of current climate change negotiations, namely adaptation, mitigation, finance and technology. Taking a strong developmental focus, the workshops have won the praise of government negotiators and community leaders around the world, including Arab government negotiators attending the Asian chapter in Bangkok during October 2009.

“The strong support from governments, in particular the Arab League, to strengthen capacity on the ground and scale up impact by linking gender and climate change should be applauded,” said Dr Odeh Al-Jayyousi, IUCN Regional Director for West Asia. “Climate change impacts societies where they are most vulnerable. There is strong evidence that supports our understanding that peace and security in the Middle East region will be seriously compromised due to climate change.”

Worldwide, data has proven that mainstreaming gender equality into climate change initiatives enhances efforts to reduce vulnerability and the effectiveness of solutions relating to peace, security and natural resource management.

The two-day training session is hosted by the Jordanian Ministry of Environment and is being attended by 35 participants from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Palestine as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), USAID and Mercy Corps.

For more information contact Lorena Aguilar, IUCN Senior Global Gender Advisor:
t: + 161 55 212 523.