Wednesday, December 2, 2009

UN chief looks to women to save the planet

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 5:43 PM

In most areas of the world, and throughout most of American history, women have not been party to decisions about how energy is produced or how industry uses our resources. At the same time, it's no great secret that we rule the roost and have been picking up the pieces — often broken by the less fair in our species — since the dawn of civilization.

So, can women carry this heavy banner? Can we affect positive change? You better believe it.

“When many little people take many little steps in many little places, they can change the world!” -- Barbara Rütting

Women, among the first victims of climate change and enduring social ills, must also be seen as principal agents for change both in curbing global warming and in attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to improve the lot of humankind, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said here on Tuesday.

"Think of the women who, as a result of desertification linked to climate change, will have to forage even farther and longer for wood and water," he told the Women's International Forum that brings together some of the world's most pre-eminent women at the UN Headquarters in New York. "Think of the women small-holder farmers who could see their crop yields fall by half over the next decade because of increasingly erratic rainfall."

"Think of the women who depend directly on the environment for their livelihoods and for the well-being of their families and communities," he said, stressing that in most parts of the world, more than half, sometimes 70 to 80 percent, of the burden is borne by women.

"People who have been the least responsible for causing climate change are suffering first and worst from its effects," he said.

"But let us also remember: to see women only as victims is to miss the point. So let us also think of the women who are custodians of local knowledge about food rationing, water harvesting, and forest conservation. Let us recognize how their insights can point the way toward sustainable natural resources management and green prosperity for all," he said.

With just six days left until the opening of the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, the secretary-general said he was looking to women to take up the call for a fair and effective agreement that will reduce emissions while helping vulnerable communities adapt.

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