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Women take the lead in the battle against climate change

NETHERLANDS, March 14 - News item | 14-03-2022 | 12:43

Around the world, women are working on sustainable solutions to the problem of climate change. Too often, however, they have no say in climate policy, even though women, as effective and creative leaders, have much to offer in the fight against climate change. That is why the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supporting global partners who are committed to climate action, women’s rights and female leadership.

Women are often more severely affected by the effects of climate change but are not usually involved in decision-making. In many cases, they also have more limited access to financial resources and technology. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes it is important for women worldwide to have a say in climate policy, as only a diverse policy can be effective and sustainable. Read here about how women are taking the lead in El Salvador, Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil and Kenya.

Mangrove restoration in Nigeria

In Nigeria, women are taking the lead in the restoration of mangrove forests in the Niger Delta.

These mangrove forests, the largest in the world, are in danger of disappearing entirely in the next 50 years because of leakages in oil pipelines and invasive palms. The delta is also plagued by acid rain, dry soil, frequent flooding and pollution, which means that local people can no longer fish or grow cassava in the delta.

In an effort to protect the Niger Delta and its inhabitants, the Lokiaka Community Development Centre is teaching women and girls how to restore the mangrove forest and biodiversity in the delta. Training has already been given to more than 250 local women, who have cleared nipa palms from 36 plots and planted 1 million mangrove buds.

Mangrove restoration is a vital tool in combating climate change, as a mangrove forest can in fact absorb up to four times more CO2 than a traditional rainforest. It also provides natural protection against flooding and a valuable breeding ground for fish, and ensures better water quality.

In the next few years, the centre hopes to plant at least 500,000 mangrove buds a year and five million mangroves during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

Both ENDSGlobal Greengrants Fund and Mama Cash, with funding from the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action, support Lokiaka Development Centre with various activities including mangrove restoration, conservation and management, advocacy, relationship building and knowledge exchange.

Sustainable agriculture in El Salvador

War-disabled women in El Salvador are farming in sustainable and innovative ways.

There is a general assumption in El Salvador that agriculture and innovation are men’s work, but in the Asociación de Lisiados de Guerra de El Salvador (ALGES) (the association for war victims in El Salvador), it is in fact women who are learning about sustainable agriculture.

A great many women who sustained disabling injuries during the civil war in El Salvador now grow corn and beans because they are unable to survive on their small state pension. But periods of heavy rainfall and prolonged drought make this increasingly difficult. ‘We have had to find new ways to survive,’ says Olga, executive director of ALGES. ‘So we learned for ourselves how to do things differently.’

ALGES teaches women how to use ploughs. As a result, working in the fields costs less in terms of time and physical strength, which means that more disabled women are able to participate. The women also learn about using small-scale irrigation systems, ecological fertilisers and climate-resistant crops. The women of ALGES are now growing organic tomatoes, cabbage, chilli peppers, cucumbers, mangoes and avocados in their back gardens.

GAGGA supports ALGES with strengthening the capacities of women with disabilities on agroecology-based practices and promoting the participation of women leaders with disabilities in alliances and advocacy spaces on water, food sovereignty, women's rights and disabilities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs funds partners such as Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) that are committed to female leadership and equal rights for women and girls.

GAGGA is working to build a world in which women have equal access to water, food security and a clean and safe environment. By supporting over 400 organisations in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, GAGGA is harnessing the collective strength of women’s rights organisations.

Reforestation in Indonesia

In Indonesia, women are working to raise awareness about climate change and sustainability.

Yuliana (27) has seen how farmers in her country are suffering as a result of prolonged periods without rainfall, failed harvests and destructive cyclones. As part of the pressure group Geng Motor Imut, she travels through Indonesia to raise awareness of climate change and to distribute climate-resistant plants and saplings. The trees will increase soil water retention and reduce erosion.

Yuliana’s ultimate goal? No more hunger because of failed crops and no more dried up rivers. ‘But that will only happen if more people are committed to the climate and our planet. If people like you and me, who have the opportunity to work on this, don't even try, who will?’

The Humanistic Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS) supports Yuliana through the Voices for Just Climate Action programme that aims for more people to be protected against the effects of climate change.

Protection of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil

Indigenous women in Brazil have been fighting for years to preserve their territory and protect the Amazon rainforest from mining and pollution. In recent years, a new challenge has emerged: climate change.

Telma has seen her surroundings change ever more rapidly due to increasing deforestation and air pollution. The impact of climate change can also be felt in Telma’s home state: rivers are dry, it is getting warmer and warmer and the risk of forest fires is high. That affects agriculture as well as the health of the local population.

As the head of the Union of Indigenous Women of the Brazilian Amazon, Telma champions the rights of indigenous women. ‘Indigenous communities don’t just take care of their own forests; they take care of the environment of the whole world. It’s high time that the voices of indigenous people are heard, including outside Brazil!’

Through the Voices for Just Climate Action programme, HIVOS is helping Telma to better protect the indigenous population and the Amazon rainforest against the effects of climate change

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the Voices for Just Climate Action programme by the Humanistic Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS), enabling women and other underrepresented groups to play a central role as creators and drivers of innovative solutions to climate change.

Circular economy in Kenya

Women in Kenya are working on a circular economy by recycling plastic and old computers.

Less than 10% of Kenya’s population has access to a computer. The Boost programme wants to change all that. Participants in the programme refurbish used computers which can then be used in Kenyan hospitals, schools and government organisations.

The Boost programme focuses specifically on women. At the training centre, women learn how to deal with e-waste as well as how to reuse materials. The trainers hope that this will motivate women to set up their own circular business. And it is proving successful: participants are now selling earrings made from plastic waste, for example, and collecting plastic bottles that can be reused so that water can be sold at a lower price.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) supports the Boost programme via the SDG Partnership Facility, which aims to accelerate efforts towards the following sustainable development goals: end hunger, ensure food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture (SDG 2); decent work and economic growth (SDG 8); and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).

Through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports initiatives such as Boost which focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)