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Ministeri Virolaisen puhe Adapting to Climate Change -tapahtumassa

Ulkomaankauppa- ja kehitysministeri Anne-Mari Virolaisen avauspuheenvuoro YK:n yleiskokouksen yhteydessä järjestetyssä Adapting to Climate Change – Empowering women through the sustainable management of natural resources -tapahtumassa 27. syyskuuta 2018.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this High Level Ministerial Breakfast Meeting. Today’s topic – adapting to climate change and empowering women – is of utmost importance for sustainable development.

I would like to thank the co-organizers of this event, UN Women, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Green Climate Fund as well as the governments of Tanzania (and Costa Rica) for good cooperation. Also I would especially like to thank the former President of Finland, Ms Tarja Halonen, for her valuable work and engagement in development issues.

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published some alarming research results. According to its assessment, land degradation and climate change together are predicted to reduce crop yields by an average of 10 per cent globally and up to 50 per cent in certain regions by 2050. Furthermore, land degradation and climate change are likely to force 50 to 700 million people to migrate by 2050.

In developing countries, people who live in poverty and whose subsistence livelihood depends on the utilization of natural resources are the first and most affected by climate change and environmental and land degradation. This often includes indigenous peoples whose livelihoods typically depend on forests and land.

Women, and people in vulnerable position, are often disproportionately affected due to their limited access to resources, lack of education, limited mobility and cultural practices. The risks associated with climate change reinforce gender inequality and pose a particular threat to the enjoyment of human rights by women and girls.

Despite this rather pessimistic outlook, I would like to draw attention to the tremendous potential that women have as agents of change towards a more sustainable future.

This event is a continuum of the support and efforts that Finland has made over the past 10 years to integrate gender in the multilateral environmental agreements as well as in their financial mechanisms. Both gender equality and combatting climate change are cross-cutting objectives in our development policy. Here I must emphasize that gender equality includes also sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Women often bear the primary responsibility for food production as well as collection of water and fuel in their households and communities, but they rarely have equal access to land, agricultural inputs or other resources. Thus, they are charged with much of the burden to adapt locally to climate change. Women’s heavy workloads are key barriers to female participation in climate change adaptation training and projects.

Nevertheless, evidence shows that when women are given equal opportunities and access to resources and decision-making, communities become more prosperous and peaceful. For example:

- Access to land and other productive resources are among key factors contributing to food security and improved livelihoods of women and their families.
- Women often possess valuable knowledge of their local environment and their participation in local decision-making can lead to more efficient use of existing resources.
- Women’s adaptation strategies tend to be more small-scale and low-impact but beneficial and cost-effective.

I would also like to highlight some issues addressed in the Finnish-funded programme implemented by UN Environment, UNDP, UN Women and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office. They have found that:

- Women are particularly vulnerable to changes in the availability and quality of natural resources during and after conflicts
- During conflicts women might have to adopt coping strategies that challenge traditional gender norms, especially in the absence of men.
- In the peacebuilding period, natural resource management provides an entry point for enhancing women’s empowerment.

Let me conclude by emphasizing the importance of increasing the participation of women in decision-making and strengthening their role in leadership positions.

At global level, the key multilateral environmental agreements and supporting financial mechanisms, recognize and promote gender equality.

Yet, women from developing countries are underrepresented in their national delegations and decision-making bodies. If the implementation of these agreements aims to integrate gender equality and to empower women, then women need to be involved in designing and taking decisions about the corresponding measures.

Thus, I challenge you all to listen closely to women in diverse situations in order to promote climate and natural resource policies and actions that empower women and enable a sustainable future for all.

I wish you fruitful discussions and look forward to hearing new perspectives on this topic this morning. Thank you.

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