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‘Grassroots women’s realities are barely reflected in COP28 negotiations’, say feminists, activists from Asia Pacific

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“WE are barely there. Women and women’s realities are barely reflected in COP28 spaces and negotiations,” Azra Talat Sayeed of Roots for Equity, an organisation working with farmers and vulnerable communities in Pakistan, points out as the first week of COP28 wraps up today.

In the first week of COP28, the absence of women leaders and representatives has become apparent during the ‘family photo’ opportunity where only 15 out of 133 world leaders attending are women, a mere 11 percent of representation.

“More than the absence of women world leaders, what is worse is the absence of people who bear the brunt of the climate crisis across the world at these negotiations.” Azra further critiques, “The realities of women from vulnerable communities are significantly absent. We hear numbers, of millions we never benefit from, yet our calls against militarisation and environmental destruction are hardly heard”

Audrey Rose Corce of Innabuyog: Alliance of Indigenous Women’s Organizations in the Cordillera, a Philippine-based organisation working on the rights of Indigenous women, adds that negotiations on climate crisis need to be discussed from the human rights perspective. 

“Women and vulnerable communities need to be at the heart of the negotiations. There can never be climate justice without justice for the affected communities and environment defenders.” Audrey further elaborates, “We need to tackle how women environment defenders who endure the impact of climate crisis are also subjected to different forms of attacks for simply standing for their rights and their communities.” 

Some feminists and activists reported that observers are getting kicked out of meetings, making it difficult for the civil society to meaningfully participate and follow the discussions.

Wanun Permpibul of Climate Watch Thailand adds that the first week of COP28 is used as a platform for mere empty promises and fake wins to distract the public from pressing climate issues. 

“Frankly, the big elephant in the room remains ignored. There are millions of pledges made in the first week of COP28, but these millions are nothing but an empty promise meant to distract and pacify us,” Wanun explains.

“The important question is how these numbers will translate to genuine change to the lives of people affected by the climate crisis. As in the past, climate finance has never truly reached communities and translated to real solutions,” Wanun emphasises.

Meanwhile, UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt Professor Attiya Waris stresses that while pledges have been made, developed countries must commit to climate finance that goes well beyond USD 100 billion per year to match the trillions of USD needed by developing countries for mitigation, adaptation and loss & damage action and to take into account the outcome of the Global Stocktake (GST).

Professor Waris adds that the current instruments are mainly loans or debt-related which leads to an increase in levels of indebtedness in a context of limited fiscal space, that in turn is leading to increasing risks and costs of finance.

“A transformative shift towards equitable share of global taxes and the control and regulation of illicit financial flows and other non-debt instruments would ensure more sustainable financial support and better redistribution,” she concludes.

Roots for Equity, Innabuyog: Alliance of Indigenous Women’s Organizations and Climate Watch Thailand are members of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development. Other members from Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Fiji, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka are also at COP28 in Dubai, UAE to bring to light the issues of women from vulnerable communities in the Asia-Pacific Region.|-BNN

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