Blog #4 from the CSW66 by Sanne: We need progress on Loss & Damage!

The past weeks our colleague Sanne van de Voort was present at the CSW 66 in New York as the Dutch CSW NGO Representative. You can read all her blogs here on the Women in New York website. Sanne speaks about her role as NGO representative in this interview.  This was blog nr 4!

Today the CSW’s main outcome document, the Agreed Conclusions, continued. At this CSW66, it is not only essential that we move forward on gender equality issues, but also on climate, environmental and disaster-risk reduction action! We need to connect to existing discussions in different UN-spaces to ensure that our discussions here in New York strengthen our intersectional, transformative climate action and that gender equality is central. Because we want this CSW to ensure that we deal with environmental & climate crises as coherently and strongly as possible. We can’t wait any longer!

Unfortunately, many countries and groups do not agree with us. We face ‘expected opposition’ from conservative countries in terms of human-rights language, references to diversity, and intersectional approaches. These countries or country-groups include, for example Saudi Arabia, Russia, African Group, CARICOM (Caribbean states), Holy See (Vatican), and others.

Other groups that we usually see as our allies in the CSW space, are not our allies in making progress on climate and environmental issues. Groups like the EU, Mountains Group and others, seem to only be willing to take exact textual references to existing climate language. This means mostly referring to outcomes of annual climate summits, COPs, like the Glasgow Climate Pact (2021) and Paris Agreement (2015).

This is problematic. The Glasgow Climate Pact and Paris Agreement are not gender-transformative agreements. By sticking to agreements made in a highly contested space, we will not move forward. One of the key issues that is currently highly contested, is loss and damage.

What is loss & damage?

The climate and environmental crises are already leading to disastrous impacts for many communities, specifically in the Global South. They are extended beyond their capacities and abilities to adapt, and also exacerbate existing inequalities. It is more than just the impacts of extreme weather events and slow onset climate change. It’s species extinction, loss of land, biodiversity and ecosystems, and loss of cultural heritage, indigenous and local knowledge.

It’s also the effects of loss of harvest or access to water on women in all their diversity, who are often (because of existing unequal gender roles) responsible for a majority of these tasks. Their daily lives and livelihoods are directly affected.

This needs to be addressed. It has been a struggle to get this topic on the agenda at climate negotiations, and progress is hardly made. We were extremely disappointed with the outcomes of COP26 Glasgow. The creation of a Loss and Damage fund to compensate communities who have already lost their homes and livelihoods from floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels did not get the green light from several countries. Commitments to finance Loss & Damage were once again pushed forward to COP27, let alone that gender dimensions were part of the discussions!

This is where CSW66 can make a difference! We call on ALL governments to support making a change, because women in all their diversity all around the globe cannot wait any longer.

Read the full blog from Sanne here

All our work during the CSW can be found here