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Bassili, Monica

Looking at Cop26 | Women, the Environment, and the Power of Innovation

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The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCC, more commonly referred to as COP27, is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference and is being held from 6th November to November 18, 2022. The next event is Dubai 2023. The last event – Glasgow 2021 –  and our thoughts are shared below.

“Canada participated in COP27 to support successful and ambitious outcomes that align with the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. Parties are expected to continue and increase their mitigation efforts to keep the goal of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5ºC within reach, build adaptive capacity and resilience, and deliver on climate finance commitments. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual meeting that brings together the 197 Parties to the UNFCCC”.

“Months ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, Canada announced its new ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution to cut emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Government of Canada established the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan on March 29, 2022 to provide a credible roadmap to achieve Canada’s 2030 target and put us on a path towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

But was Cop27 transparent enough? Did it go far enough to get support for countries at the forefront of the climate change crisis? Will poorer countries get more support? What are your takeaways?


Monica Bassili wrote about Cop26.

Ladies Corner Canada Media first published it.

As Cop26 continues in Glasgow, the effect climate change has on women and girls worldwide is recognized through Gender Day on 9 November.

The plight of women and girls is not isolated. Individual social inequities are likewise never isolated – they belong to a sizeable interconnected experience. As a result, women and girls endure climate change at an intensity and urgency that seldom creates positive change. Moreover, the increase in natural and environmental disasters profoundly impacts women and girls from developing countries, resulting in harm and injustice. 


Gender, Seriously?


The following explanation is not to pull the “gender card” or label every issue as gendered. Instead, the statistics speak for themselves. Over 80 percent of people displaced by climate change are women and children. Further, only one percent of the world’s largest farms own and operate more than 70 percent of farmland globally. Thus, not only are women and girls disproportionately dispossessed, but they are also inherently losing their rights and access to land. 


While challenging environmental and social circumstances, women, Indigenous people, and local communities are often the “caretakers” of well-being, sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity preservation, biocultural conservation, and social justice. Because of women’s social and economic positionality, increased responsibilities and assumed roles are imposed on women, making them the best candidates for tackling climate change. 


Jane and the Pursuit of Change


Compared with urban and city planning, Jane Jacobs uncovered that truly utilizing collaborative city planning is to engage and empower women in city planning. In a society dominated by male leaders and political figures, Jacobs highlighted the diversity of skills women accumulate throughout their lived experiences. By translating Jacob’s work to the global environmental mitigation movement, women again emerge as leaders and knowledge keepers. 


Although Jacobs was a white, working-class woman from Canada and the United States, her work is integral in uplifting and empowering women globally. Not only are women inherently disadvantaged, but their households and communities. Today, 1.3 billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land. Further, over 1 billion rural women depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods. In this sense, poverty eradication is interconnected with women, girls, children, and ultimately familial success. Cop26 has highlighted that environmental sustainability is incompatible with extreme inequality. Unless the systems and structures communities engage in reflect sustainability, governments and industries cannot realize the nature of sustainability. 


Here Comes the Water


For many of those who travelled to Cop26, there was no question on amenities, services, and supports. The involvement of primarily rich, developed, and colonial nations underscore the profound inequalities those unable to attend. Women and girls from countries vastly different from Canada are entirely unable to participate in the conference. The reason? Water.


The great majority of women and girls living in developing countries are tasked with collecting water for themselves and their families. However, collecting water is not as glamorous as turning a tap. For women and girls in developing countries, collecting water means carrying tens of litres of water for hours to provide water for their families. 


This may seem tedious and avoidable – it is. When water is distributed to one’s family, approximately 50 litres of water per person per day to maintain daily tasks, there is seldom time for complaints. Women continue to work and labour for the sake of their families, yet, governments have the legislative and executive powers to effect change. 


Crossing the River 


As Cop26 highlights global inequalities and injustices – governments must not answer to their actions or lack thereof. WaterAid notes that water programs received less than 3 percent of all tracked international climate finance. National boundaries and political conflicts play a critical role in hindering innovating water solutions. Because bodies of water are not isolated or demarked jurisdictions, environmental water management and policies are difficult to establish and enforce. 


The Blue Nile 


A current example of water-sharing woes is Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s efforts to establish Africa’s largest dam along the entire volume of the Blue Nile. As natural processes ensure – political risks constantly outweigh social concerns and welfare. Egypt is worried about the sustainability and water security of Egyptians. Meanwhile, Ethiopia and Sudan are tired of watching Egypt carry on with its current state of water security (for now). Nationalism, patriotism, and sometimes xenophobia characterize the responses to the mega-dam, yet, little discussion emerges over the social, health, and community benefits of water security. 


Well, It’s Mine, Isn’t It? 


While Egyptians cast Ethiopians as water thieves, Ethiopians exclaim Egyptians as neo-colonial imperialists trying to keep all the water for themselves. Ownership and jurisdiction play critical roles in establishing sustainable water security. Just like Cop26, water politics is easily clouded by politics. Yet, the very existence of politics and governance is to represent and reflect the citizens and residents. Cop26 need not perpetuate illusionary acts of caring towards developing countries. At the heart of environmental sustainability, climate change, and global inequalities – individuals and communities endure. Women and girls are at the front line of these communities, the direst, overlooked, and overburdened populations. 


Towards Tomorrow


Women and girls are resilient, courageous, and prepared to take the world back from the unscathed hands of the rich. Cop26 is not a vigil for women and girls lost to circumstance. Let this be an awakening. Innovative systems and structures must emerge that address inequality and sustainability. The first step is opening our eyes and realizing the power of water and the privilege we as Canadians have for simply turning the tap. 


Authors note: 

The term developing countries is used interchangeably with Third World, Global South, and Lower-Middle-Income countries. All terms, including developing countries, are derogatory and emerge through colonial, imperialist, and Word Wars I and II. As a result, certain governments were subordinated, demonized, vilified, alienated, and intentionally exploited to build up other nations. The term developing countries was chosen for this article as the least overtly discriminatory term of use. Dominant governments leveraged the blatant separation of nations

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