Days 9 and 10 of COP23 marked the arrival of several high profile figures such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General António Guterres as the conference nears its end.
Tuesday afternoon featured a side event on Migration as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: A Gender Perspective at the Talanoa Space. The event featured a panel of women speakers from the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Women’s Bureau of The Gambia. Panelists spoke about the vulnerabilities women face from climate change and the connection with migration in their respective regions.
Ndey Fatou Jobe of the Women’s Bureau of The Gambia spoke about the role women play in her country’s economy, where they comprise 50 percent of the labor force and account for 40 percent of total agricultural production. Women, she said, are often marginalized in the Gambian economy with limited access to credit. She also pointed out how climate change has affected agricultural production and compounded struggles faced by women. Ndey Fatou Jobe believes economic empowerment is the key to reducing women’s vulnerabilities faced by climate change.
“When you are empowered economically, you become strong,” said Fatou Jobe. “The most important part is to educate women and provide the necessary finance.”
Later in the afternoon, a group of Democratic and Republican U.S. officials from state governments committed to the Paris Agreement spoke on the importance of meeting the 2°C target, demonstrating that combatting climate change is not a partisan effort. Democratic governors Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington delivered powerful speeches on the need for states to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while a bipartisan panel of state officials from New York, Maryland, Colorado and Massachusetts reaffirmed this message.
“Donald Trump cannot stop us. Let’s get on with whipping climate change. It’s the destiny of our peoples,” said Inslee.
Jared Snyder, the Deputy Commissioner of Air Resources, Climate Change and Resources of New York, paraphrased a famous Mark Twain quote to describe New York’s response to the current political situation: “Support your country all the time. Support your government when it deserves it.” And she added,”On climate change, it is something that we feel differently from our government.”
French environmental minister and renowned nature documentarian Nicolas Hulot arrived at the French Pavilion on Wednesday morning to talk about the work of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS), an initiative developed by the French government, Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction from the World Bank, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and World Meteorological Organization. The CREWS initiative is designed to increase the capacity for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in vulnerable nations. Hulot’s presentation was followed by two panels of representatives from participating countries and partnering organizations.
“In the face of climate change, Everyone must be warned well in advance in case of natural disaster. This is the minimum. This is the purpose of the CREWS system,” said Hulot.
On Wednesday afternoon, the unofficial United States delegation hosted a Business Showcase series of panels, where corporate leaders discussed their initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at their companies.
Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement at the World Wildlife Fund opened the seven-hour event with the following message: “The big changes will probably not be coming from government. Business is our innovation center.”
The first event, The Audacity of ‘Still In,’ featured representatives from Ingersoll Rand and Mars Inc., who spoke about their company’s investments in renewables and their efforts to transition to a low-carbon portfolio.
“I think the answer for us is very simple,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer of Mars, Inc. “We are going all out for clean energy.”