Women's voices for ocean and climate

The crucial yet under-recognised role that the world's women play as agents of change and healers of the ocean and climate was the focus of a side event at the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany on 6 November.

The event – hosted jointly by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), UN Environment and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – aimed to draw attention to the value of inclusive ocean and climate management.

"Women are leaders in resource management and agents for building resilient communities, and their valuable work bridges across climate action, sustainable development, and nature protection," said Ms. Raumanu Pranjivan-Sharma, a senior legal officer for the Government of Fiji who is serving as the liaison for the COP23 presidency.

"I want to reiterate the COP23 presidency's commitment to the work on gender and climate change."

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L - R Ms Carol Phua, Ms Raumanu Pranjivan-Sharma, Ms Kesaia Tabunakawai, Professor Elisabeth Holland, Ms Monifa Fiu, Ms Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Ms Penina Moce

The event, "The Role of Women as Healers of the Ocean at the Frontlines of the Climate-Resilient Development–Nature Nexus", showcased the varied and valuable roles of women amidst the rising tide of challenges brought on by climate change and other human-induced changes.

"We also know that when women are well represented in decision-making processes, their ability to share skills and knowledge strengthens our collective effort to face the challenge of climate change," said Ms. Pranjivan-Sharma.

The speakers, ranging from government officials and academics to women from coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, shed light on how women continue to punch above their weight in trying to maintain their way of life amid the challenges facing our ocean and climate-dependent livelihoods.

The discussion highlighted the value of empowering women in engaging in ocean governance and climate adaptation and mitigation, using locally appropriate methods.

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Ms Monifa Fiu

"The different social and cultural differences must be recognised. We cannot come in blazing about being inclusive," said Ms. Monifa Fiu, Laje.Rotuma Initiative Coordinator, Vice President of the Fiji voyaging Uto Ni Yalo Trust, and Climate Adaptation Planner & Adviser, Rotary Pacific Water Foundation.

"Understanding that local scenario is key."

Mobilising women to be part of decision-making processes at all levels will help to ensure that women's voices, needs and concerns are taken into consideration in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating climate actions.

Other speakers included Ms. Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Director-General, Global Issues-Sector Policies and Programmes at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany; Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific; and Ms. Penina Moce, WWF Community Climate Witness, Fiji. The side event was moderated by Ms. Carol Phua from the MPA Action Agenda (WWF Netherlands).

The COP23 event builds on a multi-agency initiative to showcase experiences of women in the Asia-Pacific region in ocean management. The event premiered an Ocean Witness film of Roziah Jahalid from Semporna, Malaysia. Ocean Witness is a collection of stories told by people fully dedicated to the preservation of the ocean. Through the Ocean Witness platform, WWF and partners highlight tangible problems and solutions that are relevant to policymakers and the public.

For more information:
Tiffany Straza, unep.pacific@unep.org
Tui Marseu, Communications Manager WWF-Pacific, tmarseu@wwfpacific.org
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