After ‘walking’ some 8,000 miles across Europe, Little Amal, a giant puppet representing a young Syrian refugee girl, arrived in Glasgow right on time for ‘Women’s Day’ at COP26.
The 3.5-metre-tall living artwork surprised attendants atTuesday’s plenary when it walked up the stairs and joined Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean for a hug and a gift exchange.
Brianna gave Amal a flower to represent hope and light and Amal a bag of seeds.
“Both of us have embarked here for a journey, from two very different places, but we are connected by the fact that we are living in a broken world that systemically has marginalized women and girls. Especially women and girls from vulnerable communities,” Ms. Fruean told the plenary.
Participants were reminded by the young activist Women often feel the worst effects of the climate emergency, which increases existing inequalities..
“Amal brought seeds to physically share, to inspire, seeds represent hope. The beautiful thing about seeds is that you have to be selfless enough to be content in the fact that you might not eat the fruit or bear the flowers but feel it was worth it knowing that your children will live with its beauty,” she added, using seeds as a metaphor for the decisions being taken at COP26 for the future of our planet.
Ms. Fruean reminded delegates that seeds need to have fruit and flowers and invited them to continue their work after conference ends.
“I will plant these seeds out when our ministers are ready, but I hope that within the negotiations and rooms you are able to plant them and when we leave COP, you’ll tend to them so that they’ll grow into a beautiful world that is deserving of girls like Amal and deserving of having all girls be safe in it.”
The relationship between women’s equality and the climate crisis
Alok Sharma, the COP26 President made a brief intervention. However, Little Amal, Ms. Fruean and others were there to observe his speech.
“Today is gender day because Gender and climate are deeply interrelated Climate change and its impact [affects] women and girls disproportionately,” he said, urging to empower and support women.
Little Amal and the Syrian girls that it represents are not alone in their suffering: 80 percent of those affected by climate change and disasters around the globe are women and girls.
Women have enjoyed a special relationship to nature for millennia. They contribute enormously to the well-being and sustainable development of their communities, as well as to the maintenance of the planet’s ecosystems, biological diversity and natural resources.
In developing countries, women are often the first to address the management of the environment. Women around the world interact with natural resources every day. This includes collecting water for cooking, cleaning, foraging for food in rivers or reefs, as well as using the land to raise livestock and collect firewood.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)UNDPThey are the first to feel the impacts of climate change as they have to travel longer distances to get the food they need.
Furthermore, environmental degradation has serious consequences on all human beings. However, it affects mainly the most vulnerable sections of society, namely mothers and women, whose health can be most compromised during pregnancy or motherhood.
Recognizing what is important is the key.Women contribute or can contribute to the survival and development of the planet. Gender inequality and social excluded continue to increase the negative impacts of unsustainable and destructive environmental management upon women and girls.
Persistent discriminatory social or cultural norms, such a lack of access to land, water, or other resources, can lead to ignorance about the enormous contributions they can make.
UNDP/Ho Ngoc Son
It is a matter of ‘justice’
“Addressing the rapidly changing climate is a matter of justice and equality with the most vulnerable and most affected including indigenous communities, less developed countries and our focus today and every day: women”, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told COP26 delegates at the next plenary panel.
Ms. Pelosi pointed out that she had brought to COP the largest US congressional delegation and announced that Congress plans to pass legislation to double international finance for climate change by the end the year.
“Build back better with women,” she added, She gave a shout-out the female members of her delegation.
Alexandra Ocasio Cortez was one of them. She is known for being the youngest woman in the US Congress, and for her vocal advocacy and active involvement on climate change legislation and action.
“The leadership that got us here won’t be the leadership that gets us out,” she told UN News referring to why it was important to women to be involved in the climate fight.
UN News/Laura Quiñones
Climate change is affecting women everywhere, from South America to the Artic.
Immaculata, an Indigenous activist from Wapichan Nation in Guyana, knows this better than anyone. That is why she works to empower women in her community.
“We hold training sessions because we would like to see more women in leadership. Most of the time, there are only men at the community level. It’s patriarchy, and that’s something that needs to be broken. We can lead better than men. We lead in our homes, and we care for our children. The whole of humanity exists because of us”, she said during an interview with UN News.
Ms. Casimero emphasized that indigenous women are also important.As the transmission of traditional knowledge to the next generationThey play an important role in combating climate changes.
Already, the crisis is affecting her community. They lost several hectares this year of Cassava crops, their main source income, because of heavy and unexpected rains. The situation also caused food insecurity.
“The sun is much hotter than before you can feel it and our people don’t know how to really adapt to the climate because when there’s supposed to be rain there is sun and when there’s supposed to be sun there’s rain. The entire system of farming and agriculture is disrupted by climate change and we do not have anything else to depend on,” she said.
On the other side of the world, the Sami People, an indigenous Finno-Ugric-speaking people inhabiting the region of Sápmi, which today encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, are also feeling the climate crisis firsthand.
“Climate change in the Arctic is happening very fast. The weather is changing and is very unstable, our winters are unstable, the ice doesn’t freeze when it is supposed to. All our traditional knowledge of how to manage the landscape is also changing”, young activist Maja Kristine Jama described speaking from the Indigenous Pavilion at COP26.
Elle Ravdna Nakkakajarvi was her friend and she had some words for the world leaders at the conference.
“Actually listen to us; don’t just say that you’re going to listen. Don’t make empty promises because we are the ones feeling climate change in our bodies, and we have knowledge about the lands and waters in our areas and we can come up with solutions. We deserved to be listened to.”
UN News/Laura Quiñones
Science shows that we are not doing enough
Today is also ‘Science Day’ at COP26, and fittingly, the UN Environmental Programme, UNEP, delivered an actualizationThe conference’s most recent Emissions Gap Report, which takes into account pledges made since the beginning.
“We are not doing enough, we are not where we need to be and we need to step up with much more action and urgency and much more ambition…there is also a leadership gap that we need to see narrow before the gavel comes down (at COP26)”, emphasized UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen.
The original report revealed that the current National Determined Contributions (NDCs) and promises, the world was on its path to reducing 7.8 percent of annual greenhouse emissions by 2030. This is a huge gap from the 55% needed to reduce global warming to 1.5C.
“At this point when we look at what we have come out of the pledges, frankly, Is an elephant giving life to a mouse?. We need to think about whether that is good enough or whether we can stretch more”, she said, informing that including the updated NDCs and pledges, the world only will be shaving8 percent of global emissions by the end decennium
“It is really good to see countries taking this up and the conversation didn’t exist to this extent in Paris, and we appreciate and salute this, but it is not good to see that the pledges are generally vague, They are not transparent, some deal with greenhouse gases others with only carbon… they are hard to calculate and hold accountable. And of course, many of them kick the can beyond 2030,” Ms. Andersen added.