Yesterday AWIA was pleased to accept an open invitation from Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) to join them in a forum: Women Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change.
About 200 women and men participated and we listened to a variety of speakers from all over the world sharing their experiences and calling for future collective action.
The next two blogs will focus on this event and capture “some of the root causes, activities struggles and policies that are at the heart of the crisis”.
WECAN was co-founded by Osprey Orielle Lake and Sally Ranney, both from the U.S., who introduced the event and the women involved.
In the first panel ‘Women speaking from the Frontlines’ we heard from Sweden, Canada, U.S. Ecuador and the Maldives.
Josefina Skerk is the Vice President of the Sami Parliament and she reminded us that we are all ‘bound to each other and to Nature’. If the average global temperature increases by 2 degrees this will mean an 8degree increase in the Sami homelands across the European Arctic. ‘We are already losing our reindeer, our fish’ and livelihoods are being threatened. In common with Indigenous people everywhere, the Sami want to sit at the decision making tables “we are not strawberry jam” said Josefina “we do not wish to be preserved”.
For Kandi Mossett, a First Nations leader from North Dakota USA, speaking to the event was an emotional experience. She spoke of a land of dispossessed people who are once again being moved on, this time because of increased fracking for CSG. She spoke of the despair of ill health of her community (and her own) and of seeing the wasted gas being flared off rather than captured for heating. “Let’s use our common sense” she pleaded “we won’t be able to eat the oil or drink the money”.
Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Canada where mining has changed the Eco system of her delta region beyond recognition, called for a halt to “out of control development” and reminded us all that Indigenous peoples feel climate change first, and feel it most sharply.
For Thilmeeza Hussain, founder of the Voice of Women in the Maldives, climate change is very real and immediate. 89% of the Maldives GDP is dependent on its eco system: there is now little fresh water as salt water incursion is changing systems, and beach erosion continues rapidly. “How many more lives do we have to sacrifice? This is climate genocide” and the current floods in neighboring Chennai in India are proof as to how vulnerable we are to impacts.
Our final speaker in this session came from remote Ecuador. Patricia Gualinga is an Indigenous Kichwa leader from the region of Sarayaku. Her community has made a big effort to come to Paris to speak truth directly to power, bringing with them their Living Forest Proposal, a document that comes from the “core of our spirituality”. “The threads that connect us to Nature are being destroyed. We have to regain our lost connection to Nature. We have to stand at the front lines to defend Mother Earth.” The Living Forest Proposal brings a case to recreate a balance, an equilibrium. For the Kichwa, science does not have all the answers.
For more information about these cases see: www.wecaninternational.org)
More stories from around the world, and women’s leadership and solutions tomorrow …