Day 3 blog : COP18 with Simon Molesworth

La Trobe Institute for Social and Environmental Sustainability

Blog No.3 – Day 2, COP18. Doha, Qatar. Tuesday, 27 November

Professor Molesworth is one of Australia's leading environmental lawyers. He is chairman of the International National Trusts Organisation, the collective voice for some six million people globally involved with cultural and natural heritage.  In June 2012, Professor Molesworth was awarded an Order of Australia in the Queens Birthday Honours list for 'Distinguished service to conservation and the environment, to heritage preservation at national and international levels, to professions and natural resources sectors and community health organisations.'

Gender

This whole day was dedicated to gender issues associated with Climate Change, with side events, debates and the day’s publications all focussed on gender inequality and the beneficial opportunities if greater inclusion of women is achieved through the UNFCCC processes. In a joint article distributed today at COP18 authored by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, and Lashmi Puri of the organisation UN Women, they say: “The devastating impacts of recent extreme weather events are a wake-up call for the international community to take action and acknowledge the critical role of women in informing the policies and making the decisions that affect their lives. We cannot combat climate change without the contribution of women: after all they make up half of the intellect, energy and ingenuity we have at our disposal”.

As these authors and others highlighted in various forums during the day, one initiative that may be achieved at COP18 is the proposal for a new decision to promote gender equality through improving participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties established by the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Mary Robinson and her co-author said: “The adoption of a new decision at COP18, which sets a goal of gender balance to improve women’s participation and representation will send a strong political signal and ensure that women and men elected to UNFCCC bodies and involved in the negotiations fully address the gender dimensions of climate change”.

A Side Event Seminar on Gender that I attended at the end of this second day had an impressive panel of speakers chaired by the UNFCCC Secretary General Ms Christiana Figueres. Speakers included: the Hon. Mary Robinson; Dr Julia Matro-Lefevre, the Director-General of IUCN; South African Ambassador Dr Nozipho Mxakato Diseko who was president of COP17 and Dr Elena Manaenkova, the Assistant Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation.
We heard Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thaninergy, the eldest daughter of the Emir of Qatar and his second wife, H.H. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misnad. A graduate of the Sorbonne and Duke University in North Carolina, the Sheikha established the NGO “Reach Out To Asia” which is a philanthropic organisation that helps the victims of natural disasters in Asia. She also chairs the Qatar Museums Authority and the Doha Film Institute - two cultural bodies established to create cultural linkages and awareness within Qatar and the wider Middle East. Skeikha Mayassa encouraged COP18 participants to look at the future of climate change and gender issues through the ‘special lens of women’, similar to the one Qatar is using to view issues associated with its development, which had brought success to the country – citing the Museum of Islamic Art as a shining example of the country’s achievements.

She observed that: “Qatar is uniquely poised between the past and the future for using the lens of change and women here have to continue to explore big ideas, especially in order to succeed in a world of energy efficiency.  ……The participation of women in almost every sector in Qatar and now recently in sports, showcases how Qatar is empowering its women and how our religion is compatible with a modern way of life. Women are now co-authors of stories for tomorrow and the future”.

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