Women & Environment Month wraps up today

27.08.14 By
This article is more than 9 years old

Here’s what our CEO had to say in her interview with UN Women

This article was originally published by UN Women.

June is Women and Environment month, as part of our Beijing +20 Campaign. Each month, the National Committee is focussing on a key area of concern from the Beijing 1995 Conference on Women.

The Beijing Platform recognised that there existed gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment. Linking gender and the environment was a groundbreaking move which was informed by the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio Summit) as well as the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988.

20 years on from Beijing, the need to include women in environmental sustainability is more clear, however the gendered impact of climate related change on communities has not yet been fully understood. Organisations like the Climate Council work to spread accurate information about the changing climate and its effects on Australian and regional environments as well its effects on communities, particularly in rural areas.

We spoke to Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council on climate change, women and the environment and Australia’s role as a leader in the Asia-Pacific region.

On women and environmental sustainability…

Women are often the instigators of behavioural change, particularly within the community. Women will initiate change, whether it’s in the workplace or the schoolyard, or in the home. There are also many great prominent women in the climate change space that are doing really good work. Romilly Madew comes to mind, who runs the Green Building Council, which looks at how to make buildings more efficient and reduce their greenhouse gases. Women are good at bringing people together, at communicating so they have a very important role to play. With climate change, communication is one of the core things that has been missing, or that we haven’t been doing well enough. I think women are well placed as natural communicators.

On rural Australia…

Rural Australia is at the frontline of climate change, both in terms of the impacts and some of the solutions. When we talk about the impact we’re often talking about extreme weather in particular. We know that heatwaves are becoming hotter, longer and are happening more often. There is also a drought trend that is going on in the South East, and South Western corner of Australia – they are some big food producing areas of Australia. We’ve seen with the millennium drought just how severe that drought was on the livelihoods and quality of life for people living in regional Australia. As that trend continues, we can anticipate that people will feel those impacts again.

On the social impacts of climate change…

I think sometimes climate change is characterised too much as an environmental problem, which is sometimes perceived as separate from humanity. But of course, if you don’t have a healthy environment or climate then you don’t have a healthy society or a healthy economy. That is what you see when you have extreme heat for instance, heatwaves increase number of deaths particularly in the elderly, the young, or people who are ill. You’ll also see impacts on infrastructure – for instance in Melbourne over the summer, the tram lines buckled, which impact people’s ability to get to different places. There are impacts on infrastructure, in health and industry.

On the Pacific/Indian Ocean region…

Sea level rise has a very significant impact in many parts of the world including the South Pacific. For instance, with a metre sea level rise you can expect to see 13 million people rendered homeless in Bangladesh, which has impacts in terms of climate change refugees.

On Australians and the environment…

Globally Australians care a lot about the environment and I think part of that is because we experience the environment: Australians love camping, going to the beach, walking, national parks, fishing. I think Australians are connected with our natural environment and have also witnessed changes in our own lifetime. We often hear from communities that they have experienced extreme weather events getting more frequent and severe, and that’s mirrored by what you see in the scientific evidence.

This article was originally published by UN Women. Read the original article here.