New York

28 September 2018

Remarks to the For All Coalition - Promotion of Gender Equality and Human Rights in the Environment Agreements

[As delivered by Ms. Ana María Menéndez, Secretary-General's Senior Advisor on Policy]

Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Her Excellency Ms. Epsy Campbell Barr,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to represent the Secretary-General at the launch of the For All Coalition initiative led by the Government of Costa Rica.
The For All Coalition got it right. It is on all of us to take action for gender equality, women’s empowerment and human rights, especially in multilateral environmental agreements.
Achieving transformation requires people-centered approaches. We cannot talk about natural resources conservation without tackling the issue of women’s access to land and other resources; or water management and disaster preparedness without considering the way in which women are differentially impacted, their rights and well-being.
We also cannot continue to only emphasize women’s vulnerability. Women must be recognized for their resilience, capacities and agency, and perhaps most importantly – as the avenue to greater effectiveness in addressing the challenges of climate change and disaster risk reduction. Their perspectives must be elevated in decision-making processes on all of these issues.
We have seen some positive strides in this direction.
The international community, in endorsing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, underscored that gender equality and women’s empowerment are indispensable to the realization of all the SDGs.
Acknowledging that climate change is the common concern of humankind, the Paris Agreement called on Parties to respect, promote and consider, among other things, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and intergenerational equity in all climate actions.
Complementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, over 100 stakeholders made more than 350 commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit to address and reduce humanitarian needs and improve anticipation of crises. But we need further work to make humanitarian action more demand-led and empower affected people, including women and girls, as the central drivers in building their own resilience.
In a number of frameworks and conventions we now have a clear understanding of the relationship between gender, environmental management and human rights. The implementation of the Gender Plan of Action for the Convention for Biological Diversity provides an opening to strengthen the focus on gender in the development of the post-2020 biodiversity agenda.
These, and other initiatives, provide much-needed background data to support the work of the For All Coalition. 
In all of our agreements, we need to increase investment in building community resilience as a critical first line of response. These should be as local as possible, and women’s participation should be full and effective, and accompanied by the necessary financial investments. Women also need be part of the development of climate-risk management tools, such as the Livelihood Protection Policy in the Caribbean.
My hope is that the For All Coalition taps into crucial alliances among governments and respective UN agencies to help ensure that gender equality and human rights mandates across the multilateral environmental agreements are implemented in a coherent way at the country level.
But they cannot do this alone – we need every woman, man, girl and boy to be empowered to ensure the actions we take to prevent environmental harm and transition to a resilient, sustainable future are inclusive and empowering.