271112-1Side Event: Gender and Climate: Moving beyond the Rhetoric
BKWSU delegates: Sister Jayanti, Golo Piltz, Anthony Phelips, Sonja Ohlsson, Jyothi Hulmani, Teresa Mungazi and Teresa Lugones.

The daughter of the Emir of Qatar joined Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, for a women’s panel for the final discussion of the UNFCCC’s Gender Day.

H.E. Sheikha Mayassa, who established the NGO Reach Out To Asia, told the audience that “every journey begins with one step in the right direction.”

Members of the panel spoke about why women were often the group most affected by climate change, because of the role they play in the home and as a care giver. They also talked about why women were so vital in the fight against climate change and the importance of gender equality.


Ms Christiana Figueres, also put a range of questions to them, including how we move plans into actions, how women can be encouraged to become leaders and how women can be empowered to use their innate leadership and management skills. ‘Women are enablers of food security,” she said, adding that women are “agents of change” and “bringers of solutions”.

Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland who is now a prominent human rights activist, said the approach to solving climate change issues has been rightly moving to a “more people-centred, that means more women-centred” focus.

Ambassador Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the South African MP who was President of COP17/COP7, the previous UN Climate Change Conference held in Durban last year. She strongly recommended that women should not be left out in decision-making and in their implementation. She said: “let us make the women of the world be part of the big story, not part of the foot note.”

The event also served as the launch of a Legacy Project to expand the space for women’s dialogue and awareness of the specific challenges with regards to climate change.

Ms. Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, the largest environmental organization in the world. She stressed the fact that women are characterized by their energy and commitment to change.

Ms. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability, Masdar. she encouraged women to become leaders. What it used to be considered as women’s weaknesses, are now their strength. “In leadership, you need a certain level of awareness, empathy and humility. The basis for leadership are personal will, supportive framework of education, carrier equality and government policies.” Women need to engage in networking and in dialogue to know what it works and what it doesn’t work.

Ms Elena Manaenkova, WMO Assistant Secretary General: According to her, mothers are our first teachers of meteorology, they are always concerned on how to dress their children. Nowadays there are a number of women meteorologists in the world. She finalized her statement by saying that “women have to go through all obstacles, have support from their family, be patient, work hard, sleep very little and be happy for the world I leave in.”

Mr Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the President of COP18/CMP8 and officials from the COP18/CMP8 organizing committee attended the event. Thanks to Mr Al-Attiyah support, the item of Gender will be added to the agenda of the Conference.

Protecting Our Atmosphere

BKWSU Side Event 

Protecting our atmosphere:

State and individual responsibilities and the rights of Mother Earth





Joachim Golo Pilz, Director, Solar Research Institute, World Renewal Spiritual Trust (Germany/India), started the programme by stating that there are two atmospheres to protect: the physical and the mental atmosphere. We all know how to protect the physical atmosphere, but what is important is to realize and assume that the change has to begin in myself. Climate change is related to my change of lifestyle. Together with nature, we are part of one complete living system that is deeply connected with, and changed by, our consciousness.

Through a presentation, Dr Pilz illustrated the India One, Solar Thermal Plant in Mount Abu, India. Brahma Kumaris is the first Institution to have a large scale solar power plant. What is impossible becomes possible if there is a vision. The solar India one project is a contribution to change our emission foot print (environment.brahmakumaris.org/solar-energy)

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Dr Abate, Steering Committee Member of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance. The values we focus on the Ethiopian Civil Society Network on Climate Change are Justice and equity, he said. He spoke about the relationships of values and climate change negotiations. Everybody is affected equally. “We all share the atmosphere”, he said. There is a common and a differentiated responsibility and measures need to be taken at this respect. There should be access to new technology for the poorest countries, in order to afford early warning systems.

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Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, European Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Main Representative to the United Nations, Geneva: she illustrated the present situation of the atmosphere, natural catastrophes are occurring in every region of the world, even rich countries, and the fact of having resources does not help the situation to improve. The problem resides in the individuals, who do not want to change their habits, governments that do not want to become unpopular, industries which do not want to decrease their income.

Individuals can bring about a change. She gave the example that with the power of technology, using social network sites, the US election campaign by President Obama was able to gather more votes. As such, we have the means and technology to spread our voice and push the governments to achieve what we want. The whole subject of climate change and environment is the major change in our consciousness.

Sister Jayanti expressed her wish that sessions in the Conference started with a minute of silence. This could make a huge impact in the way delegates would approach the discussions.

Dr Curtis FJ Doebbler, Professor of Law at Webster University Geneva, International-Lawyers.Org, and Nord-Sud XXI, Human Right lawyer active in Human Rights issues in Geneva and New York. The lack of concern for values also leads to little care from States for the fact that they may well be held “legally responsible under international law for massive violations of human rights around the world” due to their inaction on climate change. Greater attention to the values that require our common action, and that require our action be adequate to address the adverse consequences of climate change, might help us get back on track. He invited the participants to sign a petition addressed to the Conference organizers and organizations involved in it.

Sister Jayanti’s words of conclusion were addressed to the importance of values. The reason why we have moved away from them, is that we have forgotten silence. Values reside deep within human spirits and only silence allows me to make contact with the spiritual being that I am.

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Interview by Climate Change TV, managed by Responding to Climate Change (NGO)
Sister Jayanti was interviewed by Climate Change TV, managed by an NGO called Responding to Climate Change and who are focussing on social media. Sister Jayanti has being interviewed by them every year since COP15 in Copenhagen, and she was specially requested to do it again. Questions asked were: How we can influence the negotiations and how to explain the unwillingness to hear what is going on. Sister Jayanti amongst other things said that there is a consequence of listening, and that there is that there has to be a change in lifestyle. And many people are not willing to take that step. Interviews can be viewed in the link climatechange-tv.rtcc.org

GREEN THOUGHT FOR TODAY

We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them. We say we love trees, yet we cut them down. And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved.