The first International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit was held in Suffern, NY from September 20- 23. Over 100 invitation-only participants came from 35 countries equally divided between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The summit’s purpose, explained co-founder Osprey Orielle Lake, was to bring women together who are in strategic positions to implement the critical solutions that are needed to address the world’s pressing climate challenges.
“Nature will not wait while politicians debate,” she stated. “Women around the world are facing the impacts of a changing climate every day, and we are coming together to say ‘Enough is enough’ she said. “It is time for action that addresses the roots of this crisis and fosters just solutions.”
Co-founder Sally Ranney said that not acting against climate change is “like sending a kid with 105 temperature off to school as if all is fine and damage won’t be done. “
The participants shared their experiences and ideas on how to bring about change. Mirna Ines Fernández, Education Coordinator of the Bolivian Girl Guides Association, pointed out that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect indigenous women and children and those from low-income communities.
Women are more reliant upon natural resources for their survival and/or live in areas that have poor infrastructure, which makes their communities particularly vulnerable. Drought, flooding, and unpredictable temperatures present difficult challenges for women who are responsible for providing food, water and firewood for their families, and their circumstances are only becoming more dire as no meaningful action is taken to stop climate change.
The delegates signed a letter calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which states, “There is no single project in North America that is more significant than Keystone XL in terms of the carbon emissions it would unleash. As women who are already seeing the tragic impacts of climate change on families, on indigenous peoples, and on entire countries, we urge you to choose a better future by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”
Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Greenpeace campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo and author Tzeporah Berman are working to stop the development of the Alberta tar sands in Canada.
“The devastating impacts of the rapid expansion of the energy industry, as I recently witnessed in the tar sands of Alberta, has highlighted the need for our political representatives to pay attention to the concerns of women and their solutions for a sustainable future,” said Williams.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo told the group, “There is nothing on earth that compares with the destruction going on there. If there were a global prize for unsustainable development, the tar sands would be a clear winner.”
After the conference, Tzeporah Berman talked to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now about what is going on in Canada and how it affects us all.
“These pipelines have provided a tangible focus for communities on the ground, and the oil industry and the government have, in a sense, created their own perfect storm. Because, while before it might have been people who were concerned about climate change that would get involved in tar sands or pipeline issues, now it is people worried about their groundwater It’s first nations and indigenous people across North America who are protesting their rights. It’s landowners. So, now you have this perfect storm.”
The declaration produced at the close of the conference is attached below.