Michelle Arellano is WEN’s new climate change advisor, and was a lead representative for Ecuador at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn in June 2015. In this piece, she outlines her hopes for the Paris climate discussions.

We are standing at the threshold of one of the most important negotiations for our future, and hoping for renewed international climate governance that could help tackle the impacts of climate change.  There are high expectations: we want all countries to be involved in this new agreement and we hope for an effective global binding treaty that pursues climate justice for all that can set the course towards a more resilient and low carbon economy.

I want an agreement that pursues solidarity and inclusive action for the most vulnerable people that are highly affected by extreme weather events.  From Copenhagen, people are more aware of the consequences that can cause severe climate episodes.  According to the latest report of the United Nation Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, weather related disasters kill on average 30,000 people a year.  Not taking into account the thousands injured and the material loses. This agreement can change this.

I want an agreement that can be successfully implemented at the subnational and local level, that can transcend the current governments, with long-lasting effects.  I want an agreement that calls for action on the hands of both developed and developing countries, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.  I also want an agreement that can increasingly recognise the role of the climate action from non-state actors.

I want an agreement that takes into account the role of women in climate change.  If we know that 70% of the world’s poor are women, and they are disproportionately affected by climate change, I want an agreement that changes this. I want an agreement that not only recognises gender equality, but calls for actions to gender-positive impacts.  I want an agreement that moves beyond the words to a gender-responsive policy, and most important, the implementations of such policy.

But most of all I want a real commitment towards a structural transformation, moving away from our current production and consumption patterns, and help the transition towards renewable energy.  I want an agreement that can be more humane.

However, regardless of the result in Paris, I am committed to keep on working at the local level.  I want to keep Mother Earth clean and healthy and I hope that everybody else does the same. I have transformed my lifestyle to a more sustainable one, but there are still more things to do.

There are many challenges ahead for the people, for civil society organisation and for the governments, but today I am calling upon our leaders to think about their future, their children’s future and do the right think next week. 

Michelle Arellano

From the WEN archive:

It is women at the grassroots who form the backbone of the environmental movement.
— Anne Page for Earth Watch, May 1992

WEN were involved in the World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet that took place in preparation for the 1992 Rio Climate Conference.

The group brought women together from all over the world and sought to address environmental issues in a holistic manner. Their talks resulted in a Women’s Action Agenda 21 which was endorsed by the Secretary General of the UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit).

The Women's Congress sought to avoid replicating North and South disparities in representation, reaching a consensus on demands and recommendations to lobby the Earth Summit. The group demanded that a gender balance be respected across the different delegations and emphasised the disproportionate effects of environmental destruction on children, women and other more vulnerable members of society.

Then as now, grassroots women movements played a central part in the environmental movement: nurturing land and protecting forests, putting pressure on local authorities for clean water and proper sanitation, fighting against the development of new extractive exploitation of the earth...

WEN ran a workshop at the Congress on consumer power, also sharing Basildon WEN’s experience of campaigning against the disposal of toxic waste. We found a collection of documents on the Congress and Women’s Agenda and thought our blog readers might enjoy having a browse through...