Statement: Women’s leadership and collective action are crucial for our common future

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UN Women statement for World Environment Day, 5 June 2024.On this World Environment Day, we celebrate women’s leadership and collective action to protect our planet. Since the landmark United Nations Environment and Development Conference (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), the international community has remained steadfast that women’s full participation in environmental management and development is essential for a healthy and sustainable future.

Statement: Women’s leadership and collective action are crucial for our common future

As we observe this year’s theme, “Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience”, we honour the visionary women who have made history protecting their environment and communities. We remember brave leaders such as Wangari Maathai of Kenya, founder of the Green Belt Movement, who died in 2021, and Berta Caceres of Honduras, who was senselessly murdered in 2016 while leading efforts to protect her land.

Now, as the world nears irreversible tipping points, women’s leadership is more needed than ever.

Building on a legacy of mobilization and action, women and girls around the world continue to tackle climate and environmental challenges every day. Nohora Alejandra Quiguantar, an indigenous environmental defender in Colombia, is a pillar of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Feminist Action for Climate Justice, convened by UN Women. She works with women across Colombia to utilize solutions to land degradation and promote biodiversity. Many other women like Nohora are working within their communities to make a true difference for our planet. Their work must be invested in.

Women’s representation in parliaments is associated with stronger climate change policies, yet globally women hold only 27 per cent of parliamentary seats and are only 15 per cent of environment ministers. Women’s involvement in local natural resource management leads to better conservation outcomes, but their participation in local government is at 36 per cent.

Yet this engagement comes with acute dangers. In 81 environmental conflicts across the world, women environmental defenders have been assassinated. We cannot allow this to continue. We must safeguard the women and girls who are mobilizing, building solidarity, and taking action to protect their communities and our planet.

On the road to the Summit of the Future and the Conferences of the Parties on climate, biodiversity and desertification this year, and on the heels of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Development States (SIDS4), this World Environment Day is especially resonant. We must heed the urgent call for greater investments in women’s organizations. We must take collective action to enable women’s full, equal, and safe participation and leadership in environmental and climate decision-making.

Our common future depends on all of us, together.

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