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Readout of the President of the UN General Assembly, John W. Ashe Meeting on Climate Change and Development with Women NGOs

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson

Warsaw, Poland, 21 November 2013

PGA with women NGO at COP19President of the UN General Assembly, John W. Ashe, Reinforces Women’s Active Engagement at Meeting on Climate Change and Development with Women NGOs

The President of the UN General Assembly, John W. Ashe, met today with members of the Women and Gender constituency, on the margins of the Climate Change Conference (COP19) in Warsaw. The group represents several hundred organisations at the national and international level and seeks to ensure that the voices of women are heard in the climate negotiations process.

The discussion touched upon a number of important issues regarding both gender and climate change, as well as how to gender-sensitize the Post-2015 Development Agenda and climate change talks. Carmen from Bolivia told the President of the General Assembly, “Climate change is gender sensitive and it affects women more than men whether they live in rural or urban areas. Worldwide, we have not achieved equality. There are still high levels of discrimination in education, health, access to resources and salaries and that’s one of the points we have to keep working on in the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).”

After Andrea Quesada, Project Coordinator and Consultant at Women’s Environment & Development Organisation (WEDO) asked the President of the General Assembly what he views as the greatest challenge and the greatest support for advancing the women and gender agenda, he advised the women’s groups to get actively engaged in the current processes and outlined the various avenues they could employ to influence the upcoming negotiations on sustainable development goals, such as meeting with various leaders, regional groups or specific countries to convey their priorities.

“We need something that is transformative. We need to move away from the siloed and sometimes narrow approach of the MDGs,” said Bridget K. Burns from Women’s Environment & Development Organisation (WEDO).

“I think there are many champions of this issue. I think the opportunities are out there and I would strongly suggest you utilize them. You need to be involved in that process.” the President told the women’s groups. The President also stressed that he would host his own event looking at the role of women and young people in the Post-2015 Development Agenda in 2014. “From my own end, we intend to have the concerns of women and youth to be major parameters in any post 2015 agenda, hence our call for the High-level Event.”

Suzette Mitchell, Climate Change and Programme Officer with UN Women explained that while focusing on gender equality was essential, a stand-alone sustainable goal on gender in the Post-2015 Development Agenda must also address the issue of violence. Stressing that violence affects one in three women globally, referring to gender violence as “one of the world’s largest pandemics.”

A number of other issues were raised during the discussion, including rural women’s access to technology and how to merge the climate change process, sustainable development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, as well as how to facilitate the financing. The President told the Groups that in 2015 the processes are meant to merge into one coherent framework. “Hopefully, by 2015 these separate tracks will all make sense, he said. The President also addressed the issue of reproductive health.

2015 will hopefully deliver both a climate agreement and a new development agenda that will be coherent and mutually reinforcing. In his address in the opening segment of the Conference on Tuesday, the President expressed his concern about “the role that climate change plays and will continue to play in impacting all other sustainable development pathways, planning and prosperity gains and challenges.”

John W. Ashe (center), President of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly, meets with Women NGOs .