Summary Report of Voice and Visibility #CSW66 Parallel event
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) Parallel Event
Voice and Visibility: Global South Feminist Demands for Environmental Justice
22nd March 2022
Prepared by Puteri Majid [ KAMY documenter ]
Corresponding to the Commission on the Status of Women #CSW66 taking place from 14th to 25th of March 2022 globally, Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific), National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal (NIDWAN), Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights (LILAK), Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and OXFAM Mecom Water Governance Program Cambodia have come together to discuss IPCC’s key themes in the context of gender justice and vulnerable communities, aligning to the theme - achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programs.
Marisa Hutchinson from IWRAW asserted how our climate condition is already a code red for humanity in which the Global North has to take accountability to, considering its significant contribution to the greenhouse effect, impacting the loss and damage within the Global South - which are mainly underfunded and perpetually sidelined during climate discussions.
Climate change impacts are threatening millions of people's livelihoods with the marginalized communities such as the Indigenous, LGBTIQ+, black, and disabled women experiencing the worst repercussions than the rest. However, these communities are missing at all levels of engagement and often left out of the conversations regionally and internationally concerning impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
On that note, the panelists shared their understandings and experiences of environmental justice alongside gender justice and vulnerable communities. Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar from KAMY affirmed that Malaysia is a climate vulnerable country in terms of climate emergency and thus in need of a solid foundation to tie down the climate justice movement to, in order to bring local news to local and international community respectively. With the same spirit, civil society organizations were called to build a coalition that is resilient to changes in the government and politics that affect the social justice movement.
Nadiah mentioned that 15% of Malaysia GDP is based on oil and gas, performing as its main revenue. The climate hazards in Malaysia are demonstrated by the floods, droughts, and heat waves. Last year, Malaysia recorded the worst flooding in years with RM9.1b loss and deaths impacting vulnerable groups the most. The income group of Bottom 40 (B40) suffered continuous loss with destroyed crops and land affecting the food security. The devastating impacts have highlighted the lack of community response where the suggested bottom-up approach is still lacking in the awareness on disaster risk reduction (DRR), and participation towards climate governance.
It is crucial that this fight is closely linked with media partners such as the journalists to sensitize the issue. This is especially important as the state continuously denies sovereignty with land being taken away from the people, in the name of development. Such cases have led to environmental degradation and social collapse. Nature-based solutions etc. have poor regulations which could lead to further corruption and violation of human rights. The predicament is further aggravated with the state going against anything that disrupts the state’s revenue as seen how legal actions against activists are visibly increasing.
KAMY then presented a ‘Climate Anxiety’ video with the Indigenous youth demanding the people in power to stop land violations and urging for a nature-based development as their homes and rights are being invaded.
Civil society organizations must work hand-in-hand to build a coalition that is resilient to political changes that directly affects the marginalized communities
There needs to be a sense of urgency from the government, to highlight and stress on climate emergency and collaborate with people on the ground to radically create and implement adaptation and mitigation plans
Pratima Gurung from NIDWAN on the other hand highlighted how Nepal falls in the 12th out of 125 countries prone to risk and disaster of climate change impacts. According to Pratima, climate change is a lived reality to indigenous women with disabilities in Nepal, as glaciers are persistently melting causing further climate imbalance. In addition, only 1.1% Indigenous women and girls with disabilities have access to forest. This has presented challenges to food security, nutrition, health and sanitation.
NIDWAN has indicated 5 major challenges with intersecting identities - this include; program ethic barrier, attitude and psychological barrier, institutional barrier, multiple and intersection barrier, and environmental barrier. In addition, not only is there a visible gap in the policy and practice at the grassroot level, but there are also gaps in the documentation, evidence, and information on the ground which result in challenges in linking both the environmental and gender justice perspectives. Hence, NIDWAN is working hard towards addressing those gaps by bringing in the intersectional lens. Pratima had also asserted the huge requirement to sensitize and raise awareness of the issues at grass root level, highlighting the challenges with food scarcity and more.
Despite SDG's theme of “leaving no one behind” there is still a disparity at the national policy level. The existing policies are linear approaches, which can be problematic to address systemic issues. There has not been system mapping out those vulnerabilities - hence the need for feminist environmental approach to recognize young indigenous women and Indigenous women with disabilities.
To frame the agenda through an intersectional point of view; linking environmental, gender, disability and ethnicity perspectives
Collect adequate evidence to sensitize and raise awareness from grass-root level
Judith Pasimio from LILAK asserted that the pandemic in the Philippines has highlighted the state of neglect with Indigenous women where food sources are diminishing and agricultural lands are taken for harmful purposes such as mining, coal fired thermal power plants, mega dams and plantations - simultaneously affecting the quality and quantity of their produce.
Furthermore, there is no access to basic social services, water systems, farm to market roads, health and information centers where the community has been experiencing isolation - geographically, economically and politically. Judith concluded that the overall government support has been limited. All of these have negatively affected the indigenous women and community. Like the rest of the indigenous women globally, climate change is a lived experience for indigenous women in the Philippines as well.
In 2021, the Philippines was named the deadliest country in Asia for land and environmental defenders as the government posed Anti-Terror Law - viewing human rights activism as terror. Notwithstanding, women leaders and land defenders continue to speak up and defend, putting their lives on the line.
Meanwhile, the optimist claims and statements made by the Philippines in COP26 were rather ambiguous and temporary. Despite its commitments, harmful projects such as the power plants are being approved, painting the country’s long way of reaching its goal.
LILAK demanded that there needs to be more action from the government alongside collaboration instead of isolation of indigenous women for grass root solutions. This will pave the way for the rural communities to lead the pack for climate justice while also holding the climate culprits accountable. LILAK pledged to work together across the borders to not only dismantle false climate solutions and hold the climate culprits accountable, but also to dismantle the system that creates and exacerbates the climate crisis - patriarchy, neocolonialism, militarism and corporate led development.
There needs to be a collaboration with the indigenous and marginalized communities who are at the forefront of climate crisis and making them lead the climate justice movement
Vannasinh Souvannasouk from OXFAM then added his perspective on the development of the biogas energy sector which can be linked to boosting women’s livelihoods. Biogas as a source of energy is an important component for sustainability transition especially for rural women from the indigenous communities. This has brought upon perspectives on how simple biogas systems development may impact local families, villages, and surrounding communities in rural areas, simultaneously tackling energy poverty.
The adaptation, loss and damage, and climate financing
In the long term aspect, Nadiah urged that there needs to be active participation from all parties in the national adaptation plan as the issue is a clear race against time. In the short term bottom-up approach, there needs to be constant advocacy and empowerment as there has been limited involvement from women and indigenous people in the policy making discussions. Additionally, the youth are facing fallout due to the many effects of the climatic changes affecting their education directly. There needs to be a focus on how climate change affects education especially in the rural indigenous communities.
According to Judith, the food system in the Philippines is threatened as crops and harvest are equally disrupted causing a lot of communities to opt for cheap fast food such as instant noodles and canned food. Similarly, identities and roles within the community are equally threatened as communities are left to struggle their way of surviving to disasters and pandemic in addition to the heavy militarization invading their land. Indigenous knowledge in climate adaptation is compromised because of the absence in land recognition.
Pratima concluded that this predicament occurs due to the lack of specific and targeted intervention from the government. This is further exacerbated with the lack of segregated data especially for multiple marginalized identities where the segregated data is particularly critical, not only in the climate justice context. There needs to be discussion that clarifies what development means for these groups with overlapping vulnerabilities. In this case, the communities are unable to practice their know-hows due to government intervention.
How can these efforts be developed to look after the survival and well-being of women, youth, women living with disabilities, LGBTIQ people, etc?
According to Judith, efforts to uphold the welfare of individuals with multiple intersection identities can be developed by consistent documenting, strengthening and promoting. There has to be a local government unit within a municipality to recognize indigenous land and their right to self-determination while highlighting the roles of indigenous women.
On the other hand, Pratima demands for key solutions from the higher up, while also providing them with the answers. Pratima has highlighted the policy and practice aspect where NIDWAN has been framing their own agenda in the context of climate justice, introducing the intersecting lens in national policy. NIDWAN has also provided co-creating space for indigenous women with disabilities where they are put at the center. This practice is what generates the evidence and has been an example for other organizations.
Nadiah added that there has not been a space for indigeneous youth and women in Malaysia to speak up, though they are mending these gaps by utilizing art and culture to restore broken relationships of those living in rural and urban areas. From such engagement, the indigenous youth have started recognizing the climate and structural issues. As actions from the government have been sedate, the community needs to work faster by creating their own narratives.
Beverly Longid from AIPP concluded the discussion by outlining the importance of breaking the bias and creating a safe space that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination towards girls and women. We must break the silence by having empowered women who are articulate and critical, and not afraid to seek answers. It is equally critical that we highlight the role of colonialism and occupation in the climate justice context.
Strengthened alliances with key actors and stakeholders can be achieved through formatting a clear basis of unity, questioning common purposes and goals. Demands from governments, regional stakeholders and the multilateral system include institutionalizing women's education and mainstreaming the voices of women and indigenous communities. Lastly, there should be absolute transparency in resources given to the marginalized groups - to avoid further damages being done to the communities.