Last week I was in Durban, South Africa where I attended the Seventeenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-17). Climate-resilient, low carbon development is sustainable development, so it’s no surprise that many of the issues addressed at COP-17 are crucially important to USAID’s development efforts and to our developing country partners such as adaptation, clean energy technologies, and REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). USAID is emerging as a leader in gender and REDD+ and recently released a report which analyzes the barriers and opportunities for women’s participation in the REDD+ sector in Asia.
One of the issues I came to Durban to discuss is a key topic throughout climate change-related work – the critical role women play in combating climate change and the need to support gender equality across climate issues.
Last Monday, I hosted an event that covered the efforts of USAID’s Central African Regional Program for the Environment to engage civil society in forest conservation and REDD+ programs in the Congo River Basin. USAID forestry specialists, partners, and local experts described how technology and community-based work are keys to sustainably conserving the second largest tropical rain forest in the world, and a significant carbon sink. As efforts like Wangari Mathaai’s Greenbelt movement have demonstrated, women play a critical role in forest conservation and reforestation. Involving local communities in the conservation efforts of course includes incorporating women into all aspects of the program – from design to implementation.