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COP 15: When there are no people, how can there be women?

We, women are appalled and alarmed.

After more than 10 days of technical negotiations and with the resignation of the president of this COP supposedly because of “procedure,” there are still no firm and worthwhile commitments on the table. Worse, civil society has been effectively excluded from its already marginal participation.

It is for this reason that driving away civil society at the Bella Centre becomes most alarming. How-ever diverse their ideologies and interests are, their rootedness in communities actually gives NGOs more legitimacy to engage in a global process that would determine the future of the environment where communities are dying and struggling to survive.

With the exclusion of the people from the process, the COP 15 is now operating without the heart of the process. Heads of State are now debating without the pulse of the people, which could have tipped the power balance in a process that continues to be held hostage by the United States, Euro-pean Union, and others.

Today, developed countries are still not committing themselves on the real solutions: drastic emis-sions cuts and clear schedules, and appropriate responses in terms of adaptation, mitigation, includ-ing lifestyle changes, technologies, financing, and effective monitoring mechanisms. We are dis-mayed that non-Annex 1 countries are also complicit in the high-growth and billion dollar pay-off deals.

However discouraging and expensive, we invested into the COP 15 process with the faith in promot-ing women´s perspectives among national delegations and integrating gender issues more compre-hensively into the documents. We raised money, left our families and homes, traveled so far, and brave the cold just to be here on behalf of women and communities especially from the global South. This, because we still believe that the United Nations is a space worth our engagement even as we continue to question its market-oriented framework of the climate talks, and many other shortcom-ings.

Women, especially from the South, have lower carbon footprints. Moreover, the food, water, fire-wood, energy and other resources we access are not for ourselves alone. These are shared with our families and communities. Women´s close relationship with communities and environment has made us indeed critical in responding to the global climate crisis. Longstanding power relationships have also kept us from owning land, denied equal access to the labor force, and limited political participa-tion. We are constantly at the bottom of every demographic segment in any crisis. At the same time we are at the forefront in coping with the impacts of these crises.

While we are grateful for a Women and Gender Constituency within the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) being accepted, and the openness of some national delegations to our objectives, we cannot celebrate the mere inclusion of women and gender into the language when the process has become so extremely undemocratic and opaque.

We reject the concept and creation of an “alternative space” for civil society after we have been forced out of the Bella Centre. This is not a space for meaningful participation. It is a mechanism of effective exclusion.

There is no participation in partition. There is no process without people. There is no climate justice without gender justice. There is no gender justice without climate justice.

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