United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Women

Women’s Major Group Statement -Opening Session
Final Preparatory Committee meeting
23 - 27 Jun 2014
Noelene Nabulivou, Fiji
WMG SIDS Focal Point
Diverse Voices and Action for Equality
DAWN Associate, Pacific
Asia Pacific CSAG to UNWomen
Distinguished co-chairs, state delegates, major groups, civil society and other
stakeholders. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today on behalf of the Women’s
Major Group as the SIDS cluster focal point, in solidarity with other Major Groups here,
and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, and DAWN. At this final SIDS preparatory
meeting I am also privileged to speak on behalf of wider specific Pacific and SIDs
constituencies, working collectively to strengthen SIDS concerns and proposals into the
upcoming 3rd Global SIDS Conference process, and particularly on the question of what
constitutes effective, ethical and meaningful partnerships for sustainable and just
development in small island states.
Firstly, raising input from a week-long dialogue two weeks ago that culminated in a historic
High level meeting in Nadi, Fiji, bringing together 65 representatives of 11 Pacific
governments including National women’s machineries, and diverse Pacific civil society and
women-led organisations including grass-roots women’s groups and regional NGO
networks, from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands,
Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, to advance interlinkage-based
approaches to Gender equality and women’s human rights, Climate Change Response,
and Sustainable Development.
Two outcome statements emerged, one on ‘Equitable, effective, and meaningful
partnerships to address Gender Equality and Climate Change in the Pursuit of Sustainable
Development’, and the other a MG and CSO statement highlighting some specific
concerns related to gender, climate change and sustainable development, both affirming
where they are strongly addressed in the SIDs zero draft, and where as yet partially,
insufficiently or omitted.
Secondly, at another recent 2 day meeting of MG, CSO and OS in Apia, Samoa from 4-5
June, CSO representatives and other groups from the Caribbean, AIMS and Pacific
discussed core substance and process concerns toward the Conference in Samoa in
September. Participants finalised plans for Pre-conference activities in Samoa, and
provided detailed interregional SIDS feedback on core concerns of civil society, major
groups and other stakeholders. We are encouraged to hear today from the Co-chair
affirming the plenary inclusions and speaking roles of Major groups and other
stakeholders, and specific channels to raise content from pre-conference spaces, into the
main Conference.
The meeting in Apia reflected input from women’s groups, youth-led groups, persons with
disabilities, regional CSO networks, environmental groups, faith-based groups, and more.
A small group of SIDS based gender equality and other sustainable development
advocates are also here this week and working collaboratively.
Copies of the Outcome statements will be made available to you all tomorrow in this room,
as most of us are just now arriving in NY. Our position statements during this week are
informed by this critical regional work, and longtime WMG work across several multilateral
tracks including the OWGs, SIDS, CSW and UNFCCC. So this initial intervention please
allow me to highlight just a couple of key points, as WMG members and other MGs will be
speaking thematically in response to your discussions, from tomorrow.
The theme of the SIDS +20 Conference as we know is "The sustainable development of
small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships". However, it is
asserted by SIDS CSOs and MGs that while governments have embraced and applied the
idea of public-private partnerships, much more work must be done to clearly articulate the
work and roles of civil society and social movements in partnerships with government, and
with each other.
Both meetings also stated that useful partnerships recognize from the outset that
sustainable development requires genuine facilitated discussion and dialogue of key
transformative ideas and concepts to inform work; Secondly, that there must be more
multi-stakeholder policy development space on human rights centred development. Thirdly
there must be more consistent, transparent and resourced channels of formal engagement
for civil society, fourthly and overall, the aim for SIDS states must be to create and sustain
enabling conditions with a strong grounding of social inclusion and justice, human security
and sustainable peace, environmental sustainability, and gender equality, women’s human
rights and empowerment.
In these meetings, there was also much discussion on how to adequately articulate and
measure ‘loss and damage’ in wider than economic terms; And there was general
agreement on the need for alternative/heterodox indicators of inequalities and wellbeing.
Also calls for SIDS climate change financing options to include specific attention to
women-led initiatives; AND specific MOI for social adaptation measures as much as for
preferred so-called ‘hard’ or infrastructural focused adaptation initiatives;
There was also agreement on the need for increased and robust regulatory practices at
national, regional and global levels including on finance and trade fairness, ending land
grabbing, moving away from extractivist economic practices, toward social floor and social
protection policies, progressive tax regimes, and much more.
Women in these meetings clearly articulated that the wellbeing and sustainability of
individuals, communities and societies is always multidimensional and linked, as are
human rights. So there is the recognition that we cannot just increase gender equality
work, but continue these old siloed approaches on various dimensions of development.
Rather, we require interlinkage approaches and practices, each impacted by work in
multidisciplinary areas, with interlinakge analysis, policy and development practices
influencing the overall development outcome, and providing new ideas, strategies and
policy options.
As a concrete example, work on climate change often includes recognition of rising king
tides and seawater intrusion as overall sea-levels rise. But who is considering the
influence of rising salinity in the water table on overall health and wellbeing outcomes, on
the health of women and children, and in particular on the sexual and reproductive health
of women and girls? There are rising incidences of ‘blue baby syndrome’ in island states
and coastal communities of the economic south due to insufficient oxygenation of the
blood of babies caused by hypertension of mothers, and this brought on by higher salt
content in drinking water. In a second example raised from the Pacific, women in PNG and
elsewhere are telling us about the increase of vector borne diseases such as malaria and
dengue, with rising mosquitoes caused by changes in climate.
So there is urgent need in the outcome document to make more gender and development
links clear, and to adequately reflect gender and climate change causality factors in
political will, funding and programming for social adaptation measures, as much as for
favoured ‘harder/infrastructural measures’ proposed as adaptation strategies. Are SIDS
health services identifying gender equality, climate change and sustainable linkages, and
responding to new and emerging needs?
We do not think the zero draft yet adequately reflects these realities for all Pacific women,
and call for stronger gender equality and women’s human rights in the text overall in
preamble and operational text, as well as mainstreamed throughout all sections. Why?
Because the state of gender equality and human rights achievement in SIDS; the level of
access to public services of everyone including marginalised groups and minorities; the
level of democratisation of social, economic and environmental decision-making, and the
extent to which diverse women’s views are reflected in national, regional and global
legislation, policy and practice, ALL profoundly affect our ability to respond to the urgent
questions of our time. They determine the extent to which our strategies are of adequate
scale and effectiveness to address global crises of human rights violations, climate
change, environmental degradation, finance, fuel and food.
These regional and SIDS meetings of Major Groups, civil societies and other social
movements envision the 3rd SIDS Global Conference outcome document as a chance to
clearly signal global transformative change, that must also be reflected in the Post
2015DA/HLPF process, and leading into UNFCCC in Paris next year. These calls will be
further articulated as the week progresses, and through various distributed outcome
statements. Thank you for your time and attention.
More information: Noelene Nabulivou, Fiji.
WMG - SIDS Cluster Focal Point
Email: noelenen@gmail.com