By: Talya Mohammed, Regional Project Coordinator, Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance.
The Escazú Agreement is a critical instrument for promoting environmental protection and ensuring the rights of individuals and communities in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, especially in times of escalating environmental disasters. Marking a significant milestone in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018, the Escazú Agreement stands out as the first law of its kind globally that is dedicated to safeguarding individuals defending the environment and human rights. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) officially approved the agreement that year, and it came into force on Earth Day on 22nd April 2021. Despite this, the ongoing implementation and active engagement of countries and citizens in its processes remain a work in progress.
Open to all 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 25 having signed up, only 15 have ratified the Escazú Agreement to date of which 7 are Caribbean countries, thus becoming State Parties to the treaty. However, ratification alone does not guarantee adherence to its terms. Adherence to the treaty - through new or improved local legislation is required, especially by the private sector and their policies and practices on public engagement, transparency and accountability. While some hold optimism for progress at the meetings, with two dedicated Conference of Parties (CoPs) for Escazu since held; understanding the challenges the agreement faces and the necessary steps for it to truly become effective is crucial.
"While Escazu is not explicitly framed around gender considerations, it indirectly incorporates gender aspects by promoting inclusive and participatory environmental governance."
Integrating gender considerations into climate action at various levels is crucial for ensuring that the impacts of climate change and environmental policies are addressed equitably. Here are some simple ways in which the Escazú Agreement can support gender-responsive climate action at community, national, or regional levels:
Inclusive Decision-Making: The Agreement emphasizes public participation in environmental decision-making. Ensuring that women are included in these processes helps address their specific needs and vulnerabilities.
Access to Information: Providing gender-sensitive information ensures that women have access to data related to climate change impacts, adaptation strategies, and disaster preparedness. This empowers women to make informed decisions about their communities.
Environmental Justice: Recognizing the disproportionate impact of environmental issues on marginalized communities, including women, the Agreement supports the principle of environmental justice. This involves addressing inequalities in the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.
Protection of Environmental Defenders: As women are often at the forefront of environmental activism, the Agreement's provisions protecting environmental defenders indirectly safeguard women who are advocating for climate action.
Capacity Building: Capacity-building initiatives supported by the Agreement can be tailored to address gender-specific roles and responsibilities, empowering women to contribute actively to climate resilience efforts.
Data Collection and Research:
The Agreement's emphasis on data collection can include gender-disaggregated data to better understand how climate change affects men and women differently, informing targeted climate strategies.
Gender-responsive climate strategies are crucial for ensuring that climate action is equitable, effective, and contributes to the sustainable development of communities in the Caribbean and other developing countries of the “Global South.” By recognizing and addressing the unique roles and vulnerabilities of women, these strategies contribute to more resilient and inclusive societies. The following are some examples of Gender-Responsive Climate Strategies for the Caribbean
Climate-Resilient Agriculture: Implementing climate-resilient agricultural practices that consider women's roles in food production. This involves providing access to resources, training, and technologies that enhance productivity and resilience.
Community-Based Adaptation: Supporting community-based adaptation initiatives that recognize and build upon women's knowledge of local ecosystems and their roles as caretakers of natural resources.
Women's Health and Climate Change: Integrating gender-responsive strategies into public health initiatives related to climate change. This includes addressing the differential health impacts of climate change on women and ensuring access to reproductive health services.
Renewable Energy Access: Facilitating women's access to and leadership in renewable energy initiatives. This involves promoting gender-inclusive policies in the renewable energy sector, creating economic opportunities for women.
Gender-Responsive Disaster Preparedness: Designing disaster preparedness plans that account for gender-specific vulnerabilities, ensuring that evacuation and relief efforts are inclusive and address the unique needs of women and girls.
Education and Capacity Building: Investing in education and capacity-building programs that empower women to actively engage in climate action, including training in sustainable practices and environmental conservation.
By incorporating gender considerations into climate action plans aligned with the principles of the Escazú Agreement, the Caribbean can work towards more inclusive and effective climate strategies that address the diverse needs of their populations.
Talya boasts over two decades of dynamic expertise in environmental science and project management, with a primary focus on sustainability. Specializing in steering vertically and laterally integrated socio-environmental projects, she excels in community-based engagement and capacity building. Talya is particularly adept at designing and managing sustainable projects, emphasizing community co-creation, educational strategies, and effective communication with various stakeholders. Her extensive experience in local and regional landscapes includes playing a pivotal role in waste and recycling initiatives, collaborating with local waste companies, participating in consultations, and contributing to regional research projects in the Caribbean. Talya's expertise also spans sustainable land management, encompassing quarry rehabilitation projects, initiatives supporting food security, climate and environmental justice, as well as endeavors in renewable energy and energy efficiency. As a versatile technical specialist, Talya has a proven track record in tailored communications, stakeholder management, workshops, training, data acquisition using various evaluation tools, project planning, and reporting, adhering to international standards related to Environment, Climate, Waste, HSE, Extractive Industries, and Maritime Law. Talya's success includes securing grant funding and sponsorship from entities such as Trinidad & Tobago’s Green Fund, UNDP GEF SGP, USAID, and various private sector and diplomatic sources. Her effective professional communication is tailored to the demands of working with multi sectoral stakeholder groups, and her robust interpersonal skills build trust among diverse tiers and groups. Actively involved in climate and renewable energy transition, Talya is committed to climate-smart approaches and law and policy aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Her extensive regional network is built on integrity, trust, and intrinsic knowledge of regional geo-political dynamics. Adaptable to digital spaces, Talya commands the use of tools like Microsoft Office Suite, SPSS, Online Research Methods, data sequestration methods, and Social Media Management. Passionate about learning and embracing new technologies and system approaches, she is dedicated to fostering sustainable development, guided by the wisdom of Vincent Van Gogh’s words, "Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow."