Statement: High Level Forum on Gender and Environment, UNEA-2
During the United Nation Environment Assembly (UNEA) 2, High Level Forum on Gender and Environment organised by UNEP Gender and Social Safeguard Unit and Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, partnering with UN Women, UN Habitat and WECF; Our member, Halen Hakena shared the panel with Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Authorities of Kenya, Minister of Environment of Uganda, and President of UNEA. She was one of the strong speakers in the panel.
“If wealthy countries want to commit to the SDGs, they have to stop using the resources in places like Bougainville as THEIR means of implementation to channel wealth to the already obscenely rich. They should stop to impose trade and investments policies – like Investor State Dispute Settlement – that enable corporates to sue governments when they want to protect environment and human’s rights. Instead, they should recognise the REAL Means of Implementation, which is women leading peace and sustainable stewardship of both the community and the environment. To do that, they should support civil society leaders and movements, both financially and through the recognition and support to Women Human Rights Defenders. It’s the only way to achieve human development while keeping within our planetary boundaries”
See the full statement below
My name is Helen Hakena from Leitana Nehan Women Development Agency, part of Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism and Women Major Group,
I will first of all tell a story about my country. In PNG, we always start with a story.
I come from a country where land, environment, and people are all interlinked. Women are the one who respect the environment and look after the environment for the well-being of future generation. But all of these changed when we have the world’s largest mining. We suffered a 10 year war when one of the world’s largest open pit mines dominated our land, killing 20,000 of our people, destroying not only our lands and environment but our communities. The environmental devastation of our river and our land has been well documented. Less than 1% of the profits of the mine went to the local communities. This unfair, unsustainable and exploitative environment ignited a war.
The Bougainville Revolutionary Army burnt my home in Ieta Village. I was seven months pregnant and suffering from Malaria. I was petrified and gave birth to my fourth son prematurely on a bare floor with no medical help. I witnessed other mothers suffer, dying in childbirth with no medical attention before my eyes. Women were raped as a weapon of war. This conflict led to militarized communities, a whole generation of children missed out on going to school. Now, after all that, we are suffering from the impact of climate change, our island is sinking.
My story shows while the world is teetering on catastrophic climate change and irreparable damage to many of our planetary boundaries – we can use this opportunity to re-think our global economic, political and social structures.
My case is an evidence that measuring GDP (measuring money) as a model of development has a devastating impacts for women, particularly in my community where money represents a larger devastating mine and the purchase of weapons. While our own healthy economies don’t get measured – the food women produce in their own gardens, the care they give each other, the time teaching chidren and passing on knowledge – there are sustainable and if properly supported could represent human development and safe guarding the planet.
Just few years back, we conducted Feminist Participatory Action Research together with women in our community, particularly to organize and mobilise women on the issue of mass-displacement of the Cartaret Islanders of PNG, the first ever community to undergo a government relocation plan as a result of rising tides and increasing storm surges. With FPAR, women are given more venue to talk about their issue – particularly on the issue of land, health, livelihood. After they talk about it, then they start to take action on it.
You can see local community women’s democratic rights and access and control over management of natural resources actually contributing to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When women have their rights and control, women in our community have more equal rights to economic resources as well as access to basic services (Goal 1 target 4). We have improved food security and nutrition and start to promoting sustainable agriculture (goal 2). In relation with Goal 5 gender equality, because local women are more empowered and strong, it has reduced the forms of discrimination against women and girls in the community, it has reduced the forms of violence against women in the community and many women now able to stand up against harmful practices. Women now have more effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at the decision making at local levels. Our FPAR works in climate change has strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity of the communities on the issue of climate and natural disasters (as stated in target 1), it has educate and raising awareness on climate change mitigation, adaptation and early warning. We have lobbied our government and able to integrate climate change measures to the national policies, strategies and planning. On goal 16, the initiative of women has promoted peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
If wealthy countries want to commit to the SDGs, they have to stop using the resources in places like Bougainville as THEIR means of implementation to channel wealth to the already obscenely rich. They should stop to impose trade and investments policies – like Investor State Dispute Settlement – that enable corporates to sue governments when they want to protect environment and human’s rights.
Instead, recognise the REAL Means of Implementation, which is women leading peace and sustainable stewardship of both the community and the environment. To do that, they should support civil society leaders and movements, both financially and through the recognition and support to Women Human Rights Defenders. It’s the only way to achieve human development while keeping within our plenatary boundaries.
I would like to reiterate the need to move away from neoliberal extractive model of development, and support the model of development justice that works to achieve redistributive justice, economic justice, social and gender justice, environmental justice and accountability to the peoples.