Gender Equality and Human Capital: Let's Value People, rather than their Economic Contributions

The sun has just set on day four of the IMF & World Bank Annual Meetings here with the Global Voices delegation. As usual, we have had an engaging, diverse, chaotic, exhausting, and rewarding day. Today marked International Day of the Girl. It was an incredible day to watch discussions, summits, launches and panels discussing the importance of addressing and investing in women and children, particularly girls.

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Climate Change Conference COP23 Thursday daily wrap up

By Rhiannon Foster, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs Scholar

Thursday 16th November was the fourth day of the Global Voices 2017 delegation at COP23. The day had several themes, including Education Day and Sustainable Energy Day. As my policy paper explored implications of behavioural research on climate change communications and behaviour change, I chose to follow several of the major events for Education Day. Youth engagement was also an important theme that intertwined with education. 


I attended the YOUNGO Daily Meeting at 9am, along with several other Global Voices scholars. This set the tone of collaboration and coordination between a wide variety of NGO’s and action groups for the day. The meeting was short and sweet, as several members were speaking at the Uniting for Climate Change: Further Faster Together event that began at 9.30am. 
An inspiring round of presentations espoused the importance of building resilience in young people in communities that are already facing the impacts of climate change but do not understand what climate change is. They highlighted that climate change education is not just a matter of providing facts on climate change, but must also address issues of illiteracy, raise youth involvement beyond activism to the diplomatic level and increase youth involvement in international negotiations. Emphasis was placed on the platform of Action for Climate Empowerment as a vehicle for structuring efforts to improve awareness, advocacy, training and knowledge enhancement to further practical actions on the ground. Collaboration between modern technologies and indigenous knowledge was also noted as key. 

After an essential cappuccino, I then hot-footed to the High-Level Event: Uniting for Climate Education at 11.30am. It was introduced by a 15-year-old girl – woman! – from Los Angeles, California, who described herself as a “girl education advocate” working mostly in Africa due to their great need. She painted a dramatic image of places “around the world, where it’s raining when it’s never rained before, snowing where it’s never snowed before, and floods in places that have never seen them before”. She raised questions of whether weather education used old paradigms or incorporated new weather patterns altered by climate change, and the difficulties of not only teaching this to students, but teaching new curriculum to teachers and purchasing new textbooks, especially in developing countries. 


The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC followed by stating that “education of all ages is the key to solving climate problems”. Although I wasn’t able to stay much longer, I caught the beginning of a passionate speech by Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco on the importance of the COP Education Days, and on pooling and comparing our approaches to promoting sustainable development to rise to the challenge of climate change in order to enrich them.

Our Global Voices Delegation then came together again to attend a meeting with Ian Lieblich from Climate Policy Watch, who has been working with  Small Island Developing States (SIDS). We discussed his journey from being a Global Voices scholar himself to where he is now, his work on climate finance, and the aims and outcomes of COP23 as an intermediary conference between the Paris Agreement and the finalisation of the rulebook in 2018 in Poland. 

Continuing on my exploration of education, I then attended the UN: Dreaming Big In Education event on the partnerships we need for scaled up mitigation and adaptation. The key points were summarised as recognising the challenges and opportunities that come with climate change education, mainstreaming it throughout education including traditional subjects, and making use of technologies and innovations to enhance it. 

We finished our day at the conference by watching the awarding of the Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change winners, which were on the “Marrakech, the red city going green” and the importance of mangroves in reducing the impacts of natural disasters by acting as sponges for wild weather. Finally, we met for dinner with other youth delegates from Young European Leadership delegation and a Brazilian delegation, with lots of talking and laughter for a relaxing end to the day. 

I found the education, communication and youth engagement themes repeated again and again throughout the day, as indeed they have been our whole time here. This year seems to represent an important step in including youth, traditional communities and practises, and developing communications to reach both the hearts and minds of the people of the world on climate change action. I am looking forward to our final day here and am very grateful for the opportunity to attend COP23 and be involved in discussing the myriad of intertwining viewpoints I have seen. 

Steph, Rhiannon and Ashley in the Talanoa Space

Steph, Rhiannon and Ashley in the Talanoa Space

Climate Change Conference COP23 Tuesday daily wrap up

By Stephanie Matulin, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs Scholar

On my second day at COP23, the conference theme was gender. I thought it fitting to explore not only how gender issues in climate change are viewed, but how gender influences discussions and negotiations at the COP. This climate conference is also the first year a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) has had the COP presidency, with Fiji focusing on giving space for voices and issues that are not normally represented.
 
We started the day off bright and early in the Bula zone, meeting with Dina Hestad, current PhD researcher and former Global Voices program manager, who was able to give us some key insights into what to watch out for at the COP. Loss and damage was identified as a hot topic with debates on how to make finance for developing countries more accessible and negotiations more inclusive. 

We then moved on to the Nairobi negotiation room to observe informal consultations on the Green Climate Fund report and see first-hand how details and language in reports are framed and worded and how lengthy the process of agreeing on these changes can be.

Following on with the gender theme for today, I strayed out to the Bonn zone from the Bula zone to catch some important side event discussions about gender, women and climate justice. A highlight was hearing from women in South Africa, Indonesia, Kenya, Ecuador, Gambia and Sudan about small-hold farmers and Indigenous perspectives on what can be done at the international level to support local and Indigenous women’s climate struggles. The speakers felt that it is the duty of polluters to finance for loss and damage in local communities, address root causes such as phasing out of fossil fuels and to have a greater focus on land rights for women and Indigenous peoples. This is on top of efforts to mainstream gender issues through other COP items such as the newly accepted Gender Action Plan (GAP). The speakers were not the only ones sharing their views, with a Philippines community representative questioning the lack of LGBTI focus and sharing their experience of LGBTI peoples struggling to access assistance after a disaster due to lack of recognition of same sex marriage.

After a busy day of back-to-back sessions, the Global Voices delegation attended a cocktail event run by the Carbon Market Institute. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with other Australians at the conference as well as DFAT officials and business representatives. I was particularly interested to hear from market and business-focused perspectives after a day of listening to grassroots views.

Today really highlighted the different ways that people, organisations and states are dealing with climate change, whether it be through direct community actions, the creation of new markets or the international treaty-making process. Overall I felt that continued efforts need to be made to include minority issues and for the COP process to be made more inclusive.

Rhiannon, Steph, Ashley, Claire-Marie and Kelsey at the CMI cocktail event

Rhiannon, Steph, Ashley, Claire-Marie and Kelsey at the CMI cocktail event