Bangkok, Thailand – The ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN) recently participated in The Climate Smart Women Connect: Climate and Gender Justice for Indigenous Women in Asia, a 3-Day Conference held from December 2nd to 4th, 2019 at the Ibis Styles Hotel, Ratchada Bangkok.
The conference was organized by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Cuso International and was attended by several indigenous groups from the Mekong region along with various organizations and stakeholders. On behalf of ASEAN-CRN, Perla Balthazar from the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines became one of the panelists who took an active role in sharing the success of the ASEAN CRN and the ASEAN Negotiating Group on Agriculture (ANGA) in shaping regional and international climate policy that is gender sensitive through global and regional frameworks.
The goal of the Climate Smart Women Connect Conference was to “build momentum for a more inclusive climate policy through engagement with indigenous peoples, with a focus to indigenous women”, specifically; to build a common understanding among different actors on the impact of climate change on Indigenous Women and their livelihoods, to scale up best practices and initiatives on climate change adaptation and livelihoods of Indigenous Women, and to identify issues that can drive transformation in the inclusion and empowerment of Indigenous Women in the global and regional framework of climate policy agenda.
Indigenous Women and Climate Change
Southeast Asia is a vulnerable region to climate change due to its topography, dense urban areas, heavy reliance on agriculture, fisheries, forestry and other natural resources. The countries of Southeast Asia need to respond through measures that will reduce the adverse impacts of climate change as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate vulnerabilities are also rooted in gendered divisions of land, labour, decision making power, and other resources. Research has found that women – particularly indigenous women – are more likely to be affected by climate change than men. In many communities, men oftentimes migrate to urban areas for employment while women are often left to manage the household and become the primary caregivers and providers of food. At the same time, indigenous knowledge, often carried by women, provides an important basis for adapting to the impacts of climate change.
It is therefore important to include the knowledge and experiences of indigenous women in forming valuable solutions and in policy development. The Climate Smart Women Connect conference aimed at connecting indigenous women in the region to share their stories and contribute to the more inclusive global climate policy agenda.
Women as Keepers of Knowledge and Learning Systems
The conference highlighted that in many indigenous communities, women are often regarded as knowledge keepers. Women have a key role in learning and passing down practices and information. From the Climate Smart Women Connect panels and discussions, it was identified that capacity-building, adaptive systems and local learning amongst women are crucial. The delegates exchanged experiences on practice models of climate-adaptive agriculture, such as a communal seed storage system and an early warning system. The importance of safeguarding these systems and mainstreaming knowledge to the entire community was also highlighted. The role of women in being keepers of knowledge and learning systems must also be further asserted in political discourses in the community, where these discourses are often exclusive to men or male-dominated.
The conference found that despite positive progress at the local level, national and global policy development still often exclude the needs and voices of those most affected, one of these are indigenous women. Participants advised that the agency and knowledge systems of indigenous women should be recognized and asserted as they offer key insights for sustainability and justice transformations. Global governance should continue to engage in knowledge system sharing with indigenous communities to achieve climate and gender justice.
The conference concluded with the drafting of common messages and recommendations for addressing climate change and gender justice.
ASEAN-CRN and ANGA on Climate and Gender Justice
ASEAN-CRN bridges scientific institutions to policymakers and provides a platform for dialogue between relevant stakeholders in the national, regional and international level.
The network promotes climate-smart land use practices in agriculture and forestry that are aligned with national priorities and policies through dynamic knowledge exchange events and collaborative initiatives. ASEAN-CRN also engages in dialogue among ASEAN Member States to develop joint ASEAN positions on climate change and land use in regional and international fora.
ANGA, formed under ASEAN-CRN, was a direct contribution to the ASEAN Food and Agriculture (FAF) Strategic Plan 2016-2025 and enables ASEAN to shape multilateral environmental agreements for the protection of the region’s land use sector. Regional cooperation through ASEAN-CRN and ANGA allows for the identification of common priorities and influence of regional and international policy processes; the amplification of Asian Member States (AMS) to articulate needs and access support. This includes the exchange and affirmation of gender perspectives on climate smart land use and global climate change processes.
ASEAN-CRN and ANGA recognizes the need to mainstream gender issues into policies and projects in ASEAN context. It is therefore ASEAN and ANGA’s agenda to promote dialogue on how to design activities and projects concerning climate action in agriculture, forestry and food security in the region in a gender-sensitive manner.
More information on the conference can be found here: