On the 17th May Mary Robinson participated in a Climate Leaders Summit in Canada. The Climate Leaders’ Summit: Women Kicking it on Climate was hosted by Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Summit, held ahead of the G7 environment meeting that Canada will host later this year, brought together women climate leaders from the public, private, academic and civil society sectors, including youth and Indigenous Peoples, to advance solutions to combat climate change and the Paris Agreement while contributing to women’s empowerment.
Opening the Summit Minster McKenna highlighted that without the many strong women involved the world would not have as strong a Paris agreement. She also emphasised the rationale for the meeting in bring together women in a supportive environment to help each other saying “women helping women does change the world”.
Mary Robinson provided opening remarks at the Summit quoting author and activist, Arundhati Roy, “we know, of course, there’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard” Mrs Robinson encouraged the women present to ensure the meaningful participation of all women affected by the impacts of climate change especially people in vulnerable situations. Mrs Robinson also praised Minister McKenna for bringing together the women in the room and suggested that such events become an annual gathering to continue to provide the supportive environment and show leadership.
Throughout the day participants listened to and learned from each other. Firstly through a number armchair discussions with leaders sharing experience and examples of women leading ambitious climate action internationally, women business leaders and entrepreneurs connecting environment and economy, promoting and communicating climate science and traditional knowledge and addressing the gendered impacts of climate change and empowering women.
After lunch those present participated in a number of learning circles to identify solutions that can be taken forward, which included:
- Landing the Paris Rulebook at COP24
- Leading the Transition to Clean Energy
- Engaging the Private Sector in Turning the Billions into Trillions for Clean Growth
- Adaptation and Resilience: Learning from and supporting SIDS and indigenous communities impacted by climate change
- Enhancing and Promoting the Role of Cities and Subnational Governments in Ambitious Climate Action
Key recommendations from the summit included the need to:
- support and collaborate with grassroots and Indigenous women whose traditional knowledge make them experts in climate change resilience and leaders in conservation
- foster engagement with young women taking action on climate change and support their innovative thinking
- build on the growing global recognition that effective climate action requires the active participation of women, including through the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan.