Welcome Remarks by Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP to the High Level Forum on Gender and the Environment ma, feb 18, 2013

The Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, remains a key implementing partner in addressing the integration of gender perspectives into national environmental management planning processes

Excellency, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs,  South Africa,  Co-Chairperson of Global Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment

Ms Sahle-Work Zewde, Director General, The United Nations Office at Nairobi

Ms Rebecca Grynspan, Associate Administrator and Under Secretary-General, UNDP

Ms Amina J Mohammed, Assistant Secretary-General and  UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning

Excellences Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Environment

Ms Alice Kaudi,  Environment  Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral resources - Kenya

Colleagues

Government representatives,

Partners from the civil society

Good Morning!
First, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you to the High Level Gender Forum hosted by the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment and UNEP.

As many of you know, this Forum is being held on the eve of a historic moment for UNEP - that is the First Universal Session of the Governing Council following the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable development that in June 2012.

For us at UNEP, the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, remains a key implementing partner in addressing the integration of gender perspectives into national environmental management planning processes

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,

Various sections of the Rio+20 outcome document reaffirm gender equality and women's empowerment as critical elements of the post-2015 development agenda. The inclusion of a dedicated section on gender equality and women's empowerment, and, the other key gender references in the other priority areas in the outcome document, (including agriculture and food security, water, energy, decent work, health, among others), presents opportunities for ensuring a gender responsive and sustainable environmental management

These are all great opportunities that we must seize at all levels - globally, regionally, nationally, and at the community level.  We must address the key challenge of making sure that gender perspectives are taken into account in the most comprehensive way while seeking environmental sustainability. Today's High Level Forum affords us the opportunity to deliberate on this.

Ladies and gentlemen

At the High Level Gender Forum hosted by the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment and UNEP on June 20 2012, in Rio de Janeiro,  UNEP  made commitments to fully implement the Rio+20 gender outcomes though its programmes, policies and operations.  To this end, we have embarked on a number of initiatives - including;

  • a review of our Gender Programme to ensure maximum mainstreaming of gender into our programmes and operations and; 
  • Developing a Global Environment Outlook on Women and the Environment during our 2014-2015 programme of work.

In addition, we have been working to ensure a gender-sensitive approach to climate policy and practice for the last five years and as a result you may have noted a significant rise in the recognition of the role contributed by gender equality to effective climate policy and practice.

The decision made in December 2012 in Doha at COP 18 to ensure gender balanced representation at all the climate change meetings and COPs was for us clear evidence that our efforts were paying off.  The decision presents an opportunity to continue building capacity at all levels, by guaranteeing gender perspectives are well addressed and integrated at all stages of the negotiations.

The Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment must seize this unique opportunity to play a leading role in contributing to the implementation of the Gender related decisions and catalyze further progress towards gender equality

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2009, governments attending the UNEP Governing Council agreed to start negotiations on a new global treaty to deal with the notorious heavy metal mercury. As many of you may know mercury and its organic form methyl mercury is among the most health-hazardous substances known to humankind and is especially damaging to the nervous systems of babies and young children.  

In January this year, in Geneva Switzerland, governments agreed to a global, legally binding treaty - The Minamata Convention - that provides controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The convention will be open for signature at a special meeting in Japan in October 2013.  

On behalf of UNEP, I wish to thank the Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi Deputy Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs - South Africa and Ms Lena Ek - Minister for Environment Sweden, co-chairs of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, and members of the Network for the support given by calling upon countries to support the final negotiations of mercury treaty. We hope we can now together urge all our governments to sign and ratify it so that it can quickly enter into force.

The entire world stands to benefit from the Minamata Convention.  However, the biggest beneficiaries are the workers and families of small-scale gold miners, the peoples of the Arctic now and into the future. We look forward to swift ratification of the Minamata Convention in Japan this October.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is against the backdrop of some of these achievements that the  Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment celebrated 10 years of collaboration and collective action on environmental priorities In June last year in Rio. These achievements are strong, and the potential for more impact is great.  Therefore forming a strengthened NWMLE, will require development of a revitalized and stronger governance structure, which I have noted will be discussed later this afternoon in a closed session.

In this regard, we at UNEP are looking forward to the Network's thoughtful process to reach agreement on its governance structure that will not only strengthen the Network but also contribute to the impacts of its efforts in the future

With these few remarks, I once again welcome you to UNEP and Nairobi and look forward to fruitful deliberations.

Thank you.

 
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