This afternoon I attended a side event entitled “Supporting Women Empowerment through Climate Mitigation Projects.” The event was put on by WOCAN – Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management. The event, along with many of the Gender Day COP events, was about ensuring benefits to women and empowering them through projects that help combat climate change, such as REDD+ projects and substituting biogas stoves for the black-carbon spewing cook fires many rural women use.
The panel of speakers presented some great ideas about how to empower women in these rural areas. One such idea, presented by WOCAN and the South Pole Group, paired carbon credits from climate mitigation activities with projects that have a strong focus on gender. The idea is that demand for such projects will accelerate investments into the projects, which in turn will strengthen the delivery of gender benefits. An example of such a project was putting biogas stoves into the homes of these rural women; this would benefit them by giving them more quality time to spend (away from the cook fire) and would also decrease their carbon footprint. Empowers women and helps fight climate change.
Another speaker from Code REDD spoke about repackaging the selling of REDD projects to corporations. Forestry is not usually the highest priority for many corporations, but gender equality is; women are major buyers and users of many corporate products and are the “face” of some very big companies. Therefore, Code REDD has been trying to repackage REDD projects (which usually already benefit women) to sell the “gender factor.”
While sitting through this fascinating presentation, I was wracking my brain to figure out how I could connect what I did today at the CoP to wildlife and biodiversity. And then it hit me: such projects could be used to save species, too. Why not develop projects that both reduce carbon footprints while at the same time creating benefits for the wildlife in the area, like maintaining habitats. One incredible example can be seen here; this biologist, hoping to save orangutans from habitat destruction, rebuilt a rainforest in Borneo. A perfect example of a project that combines fight climate change with helping endangered species and wildlife. REDD projects already work with wildlife groups, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (which happens to be the NGO I am working with), but I feel like this connection – the connection between saving our forests through creating REDD+ projects and conserving wildlife – could be stronger. Let’s empower our animals through these climate mitigation projects.