Gender Equality through Disaster & Climate Change Readiness: from Policy to Practice

Right now marks the middle of the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City, the annual taking-stock of Millennium Development Goals as they relate to successes, challenges, and progress for women and girls around the globe. Like many UN events, the annual CSW is two weeks of prepared statements, panel discussions, and working group meetings packed with lofty and generalized language, seemingly perfectly designed to simultaneously aggravate and bore participants.

Last Thursday I was a participant in that process. I spoke at a CSW parallel event put on by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a humanitarian disaster relief organization. I presented on the state of gender equality through a climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction lens, from my perspective as a junior researcher…

A week’s conference just passed. Five days of presentations, discussions, proposals, planning, and relationship building. All in the name of eventually designing a new framework for international forest policy. How did we do?

Where are the trees that we saved from falling? Where the communities whose tenure rights were secured? Did we contribute to increased carbon sequestration and storage? How about clean water provision? Have we helped conserve biodiversity? These are some of the questions floating through my head after a week that—given the format as UN conference—was surprisingly exciting, dynamic, and personal.

The United Nations Forum on Forests is the world’s authoritative platform to develop and decide international forest policy frameworks. Comprised by 197 Member States and situated directly under the Economic and Social Council, the multi-lateral…

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is often discussed in terms of finance. That is, who is going to provide the financing, where is it going and how will it be spent? At today’s 20th annual Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) conference, Eva Garen of the Environmental Leadership and Training Institute moderated a panel of talented practitioners working on “REDD+-like” projects in Latin America.

Kate Horner of the Environmental Investigation Agency reminded the audience that in 2007 when the Bali Climate Change Conference moved REDD forward to REDD+, it was primarily viewed as a policy approach to forest conservation in contrast to the current focus on finance. Horner discussed Indigenous REDD, an initiative of the Peruvian indigenous organization…

The Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) will host its 20th annual conference at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 2014.

The conference, called “Forests as Capital: Financial Mechanisms for Tropical Forest Conservation,” will explore conservation models that employ both the capital approach (top-down) and local approach (bottom up) to attract financing and generate sustainable revenues from forest resources.

The three-day event, held at Kroon Hall, will bring together representatives from international organizations, governments, financial institutions, and nonprofit groups with the common mission of building markets for conserving tropical forests.

“The visiting experts in the field of finance for tropical conservation will address crucial questions, including what tools are available, where have they been…

Packages of cheese puffs in a grocery store dumpster

Leading up to and at COP 19, I worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists, helping them to develop policy positions related to climate change adaptation and mitigation in global agriculture. Agriculture is a nascent subject within the UNFCCC, but by 2020, global emissions targets relating to both forests and agriculture will be incorporated under a single heading of “land use.” Addressing agricultural emissions will be a significant step for the UNFCCC. The following statistics convey why:

  • According to a recent report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, demand for food is predicted to increase by at least 60% by 2050 – not simply because of population growth, but because of changing consumption patterns, referred to as the “nutrition transition.” Developing countries are rapidly adopting a
Photo: Mariusz Patalan/Climate Centre

On Saturday November 16th was the first day of Development and Climate Days (D&C) at COP19. D&C Days, an extremely participatory event, was hosted by the GEFJICARed Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC), IIED and ICCCADI, along with my team partners at Yale, Verner Wilson and Rex Barrer,co-facilitated climate change games at D&C Days. We interned with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre as a component of the International Organizations and Conference Class that we are taking at at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In this post I want to share my reflections on how D&C Days, with an innovative conference approach, positively inspired participants to take action on climate change.

At D&C Days the first session of talks was about a diverse range…

Apples branded with the COP 19 logo that were distributed widely at COP-19 by Poland’s Ministry of Environment

From the first day I arrived in Warsaw for the UNFCCC’s 19th Conference of the Parties, there was an atmosphere of cautious excitement surrounding the negotiations on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). A week of negotiating had already taken place, resulting in consensus on two contentious technical issues, one of which had led to the breakdown of the REDD+ negotiations at last year’s COP. Agreement on these issues was an enormous accomplishment and, if adopted, would mean that the five major technical elements of the REDD+ framework would be complete. Enthusiasm was reined in, however, by the understanding that these technical elements would be held hostage for a decision on long-term REDD+ finance. It was an all-or-nothing deal: either the package of both technical and finance…

Multi-hazard mapping in Metro Manila (Rappler.com).

“Stand up if you live in a city. Stay standing and I want you to hold this image of the destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in your mind. Now, imagine that the early warning sirens go off. When you hear the sirens, what do you do? How do you know what to do, where to go?”

This was the interactive exercise I used to start off my talk at the COP19 side event on “Implementing Article 6” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Article 6 — which pertains to Education, Training, and Public Awareness — commits countries to “promote and facilitate… public access to information on climate change and its effects” and “public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate…