WEP’s visit to NL – recap by Anne-Marie Abaagu

It was an absolute pleasure to host Priscilla Achakpa, John Baaki, and Anne-Marie Abaagu from Women Environmental Programme (WEP) Nigeria for a couple of days in The Netherlands. “WECF is like family”, shares Anne-Marie, Executive Director for the Nigerian office of WEP. WEP took part in the Afrikadag in Amsterdam, met up with several representatives from the Dutch government and joined us in our office in Utrecht. To best capture the spirit of WEP’s visit to The Netherlands, we sat down to chat with Anne-Marie.


Anne-Marie joined our workshop during the Afrikadag titled “Why Dutch forest policy needs ecofeminism”. Moderated by Dr. Mollynn Mugisha-Otim, and with panelists John Baaki, WEP Deputy Executive Director, Rene van Hell, Director Inclusive Growth at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Annabel Kennedy, presenting the preliminary recommendations of our ecofeminist analysis of Dutch forest policy, the event was a great succes! Anne-Marie especially appreciated “the intersectionality of the different experiences from the other countries” that were shared during the workshop. She saw Afrikadag as an opportunity for both Africans and Europeans to understand our common challenges, “because let’s face it, climate change is not just affecting Africa, it is also affecting Europe”, Anne-Marie shares. “It’s about time that we all have one voice, and find ways that we can share knowledge and work together”.

To that end, John and Anne-Marie met with several representatives from Dutch Ministries the following Monday.

Meeting the Ministries

WEP shared their experiences of working with the Nigerian Government in the whole process of creating the National Gender Action with representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, Culture and Science.

“One key lesson that they learned was … the need to engage with feminist and women-based organizations to drive the process, because if you don’t involve the civil society the process will actually be slow”, Anne-Marie tells us. The ministries asked questions regarding the issue of implementation and monitoring, to which Anne-Marie shared that WEP was actually involved in drafting the implementation strategy and were invited along other key stakeholders to participate in every step along the way. In Nigeria, the Department of climate change under the Ministry of Environment drives the process, but all key ministries have a role to play. When it comes to climate change says Anne-Marie “you cannot say ‘that is not my department’”, the issue is simply too vast for that. Same goes for a gender-responsive approach; “you can’t be gender-responsive if everyone is working in silos”. The Feminist Foreign Policy that the Netherlands will begin to develop, could be a great start to creating better synergies.

On the Wednesday, both Anne-Marie and John met with Christine Teunissen, member of the Dutch parliament from the Partij voor de Dieren. “We need people like that, who have open minds, that are ready and willing to work”, shared Anne-Marie prior to the meeting. Topic under discussion; WEP’s experience with the National Action Plan for Gender and Climate Change. As Christine Teunissen shared on her socials; “We discussed the interconnection between the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and social injustice. If we want to solve them, we have to solve them together!”

Next on the agenda

Anne-Marie will join their global president Priscilla Achakpa in Bonn after their visit to the Netherlands. “Bonn is like a pre-cop conference”, Anne-Marie explains. “Major decision will not exactly be made at Bonn, but the preparation to the major decisions will be discussed at Bonn”. Regardless, it is very important that they are present and following the process prior to COP27 in Egypt shares Anne-Marie. With WEP’s global president being a negotiator, this “pre-COP” is a great opportunity to bring about change. Besides following the negotiations, WEP will also organize a side event together with WECF and CGIAR.

“Change is a gradual process”

“WEP has come a long way,” Anne-Marie reminisces, and WEP is still ever evolving. Their global president just received the “ALBERT BALLIN AWARD FOR GLOBAL ACTION” award, which is telling of WEP’s great, consistent work and efforts. “The evidence of our work is showing through our beneficiaries, and not just in Nigeria, but globally as well” states Anne-Marie proudly. WEP is ready to continue working for a gender-just and healthy planet for all, and we’ll be there alongside them.