Climate change is an issue of human rights, equity and justice. While climate change impacts everyone, it especially disrupts the lives and livelihoods of the very same people who continually face and fight poverty, discrimination and marginalization across all walks of life: girls, boys, women, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees, and inhabitants of areas that are environmentally vulnerable, including small island states. These people, and the civil society organizations championing their cause, are on the front lines of climate action every day. Their voices must be heard by policy makers. Vulnerable and marginalized populations, and in particular young people who will inherit the earth, need to be at the heart of finding and implementing climate solutions.
This session highlights the experiences of children, young people, women, indigenous peoples and other groups whose voices are too often ignored in building resilience and contributing to climate solutions on the ground. This session will discuss existing climate inequities and their linkages with other aspects of vulnerability and resilience, as well as the implications of climate solutions on present and future generations. It will also highlight those who are demonstrating leadership as agents of change. The session aims to strengthen the role of the most affected populations in the climate change discourse, and to identify practical examples and recommendations to ensure their full engagement and contribution.
Watch the session webcast:
Evo Morales Ayma, President Elect of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, was born in 1959 in Orinoca, Oruro. His family is Aymara, an indigenous nation which has a Philosophy based on three principles: ama sua (do not steal), ama quella l (do not be lazy) and ama lulla (do not lie).
Since early childhood Evo worked in farming and herding llamas. To support his own studies, he worked as a bricklayer, baker and trumpeter; he was algo a good footballer. After high school, he continued his studies in what he calls the “University of Life”.
In 1982 the Bolivian altiplano suffered one of the worst droughts in history that forced massive migration. The Morales moved to the Chapare (Cochabamba). In 1983 he was elected Secretary of Sports of his Union; He rose rapidly in positions: in 1985, Secretary General of the Union. Since 1988 he was the Executive Secretary of the Federation of the Tropic of Cochabamba and since 1996, Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba. In 1997 He was elected as a Congressman, but expelled from Congress in 2002 by the traditional Neoliberal parties. They accused him and the Social Movements of being “terrorists”, “drug dealers”, “guerrilla fithters”, etc. Despite the attacks, his party the MAS rose rapidly in every national election, and he broke all political projections to win with 53.7 % of the votes in the elections of 2005, becoming the first Indigenous President of Bolivia and of Latin America.
Honourable Enele Sosene Sopoaga was born on the 10th of February, 1956 and is Tuvalu’s Prime Minister since 2013.
Sopoaga became a Member of Parliament representing his Island constituency, Nukufetau, in 2010. He was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Environment and Labour of the Government of Tuvalu from September to December in 2010. He became leader of the Opposition from December 2010 to August 2013 and sworn in as Prime Minister on the 5th of August 2013. Prior to it, Sopoaga has been a long-serving civil servant for the Government of Tuvalu beginning his career as a teacher, and later as a diplomat, serving at the Department of Foreign Affairs for a long period of time, as Tuvalu High Commissioner to Fiji, PNG and Samoa and he subsequently served as Tuvalu’s first Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations 2001-2007.
Sopoaga was Vice-Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) between 2002 and 2007 where he also served as the lead Coordinator/Negotiator for Tuvalu and AOSIS on climate change. He was the first SIDS representative in the Adaptation Fund Board. Sopoaga graduated and received a Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University and a Master’s degree from the University of Sussex in the UK. His main thesis is the nature of SIDS sovereignty as influenced by ODA, climate change and global forces.
Sopoaga is married to Mrs. Salilo Enele and has three children.
Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation
Mary Robinson is President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. She served as President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She is a member of the Elders and the Club of Madrid and the recipient of numerous honours and awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States Barack Obama. She is also a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. Between March 2013 and August 2014 Mary served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. In July 2014 she was appointed the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.Mary Robinson was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-2010 and served as Honorary President of Oxfam International from 2002-2012. Mary serves as Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business in addition to being a board member of several organisations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the European Climate Foundation. Mary is the Chancellor of the University of Dublin since 1998. Mary’s memoir, Everybody Matters was published in September 2012.
Ronan Farrow is the host of “Ronan Farrow Daily” on MSNBC. As a powerful writer, human rights lawyer, former diplomat and UNICEF advocate, he contributes across the platforms of NBC News. Farrow served as a foreign policy official in the first Obama administration. He founded the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues and for two years worked as a U.S. diplomat with civil society groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Farrow, 26, has written about human rights and foreign policy for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. He has also served as a UNICEF spokesperson for youth, traveling extensively in Africa. In 2009, Farrow was named new activist of the year by New York Magazine and was included on its list of individuals “on the verge of changing their worlds.” Forbes Magazine has ranked him number one among its “30 Under 30” most influential people in law and policy. Farrow, an American, is a graduate of Yale Law School, and a member of the New York Bar. He conducted doctoral research at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Sylvia Atugonza Kapello is a climate and development expert with over 8 years experience working with marginalized indigenous communities of Karamoja Uganda, a region with the worst climatic vagaries resulting from climate change. She received her Master’s Degree in Peace and conflict Studies from Makerere University. Atugonza has gained an extensive experience in sustainable development approaches to climate change with emphasis on building local resilience and working with communities to find their own solutions. Working with Riamiriam Civil society network, Ms Atugonza initiated and personally designed a model of “Community parliaments” which has empowered communities to strengthen their local resilience. The model is being replicated by development partners like Oxfam, Trocaire. Her experience as a woman, working under extremely difficult conditions has sharpened her passion of working with suffering communities of Karamoja, which has experienced the worst effects of climate change. She was a key presenter at the Nansen Initiative’s pre-civil society consultative meeting on Climate change, and a representative of more than 50 civil society from over 5 countries at the Horn of Africa Consultation on climate change in Nairobi, where she presented the outcomes and participated in leading key sessions on forced cross-border pastoralist migrations as a result of natural hazards.
Alina Saba is a young Limbu Indigenous woman from Nepal currently working as a community researcher with the Mugal Indigenous Women Upliftment Institute (MIWUI). Mugal women live in the most remote areas of Nepal living a subsistence life and have little access to basic services or support. Alina is working with the women to build their resilience and identify their own responses to the enormous climate challenges they face. Alina was the first person from her community to obtain a tertiary education and holds a Masters in Sociology where she focused on the political movements of Indigenous peoples. She participates in local, national and regional movements to advance human rights and climate justice for women and Indigenous communities. Alina’s work is part of an Asia Pacific wide project through the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) to empower Indigenous, migrant, rural and urban poor women to have an influential voice over climate policy and their own development futures.
In 2009, at the age of 17, Christina Ora addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, on behalf of world youth. Since then, she has been busy engaging her government and community on how climate change is impacting the Solomon Islands, and coordinating community youth groups under the umbrella of the Honiara Youth Council with key partners such as the Pacific Youth Council. Locally, regionally and within the international arena, Christina has been both vocal on calling for greater partnership between young people and world leaders and identifies this trust as a key platform to tackle climate change and to achieve sustainable development. Recently, as recognition for her work, she was given the opportunity to be a youth delegate to the 3rd UN Small Islands Developing States conference in Apia, Samoa. She was the Solomon Islands youth representative, a youth representative for the Women’s major group and one of the Pacific Youth Council’s active members at the Conference. She also presented the Pacific Partnerships to Strengthen Gender, Climate Change Responses and Sustainable Development (PPGCCSD) statement, at the Conference.
Femi Oke is an international broadcaster, journalist and writer. She’s currently based in Washington D.C. where she hosts the interactive current affairs show “The Stream” for Al Jazeera English. Femi’s work has been recognized by The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Communications Agency and InterAction. Since the 1980’s she has worked for BBC television and radio, Sky TV, all the UK terrestrial television networks, CNN and U.S. public radio. Femi is British by birth, Nigerian by parentage and a Washingtonian by zip code! You can reach her anytime on Twitter @FemiOke.
Senior Adviser, Climate and Environment
Division of Data, Research and Policy
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team