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Women Breaking the Sound Barrier on Climate Change Our history and presence on Earth, both individually and

collectively as a species, is greatly shaped and forged from the realm of a remarkable impulse we call choice. At this critical moment in our human journey, these choices have a profound effect on the very destiny of the Earth and all who live here. Our warming planet due to human-made climate change has reached critical tipping points and we now have one of the most profound choices to make that humanity has ever faced. Earlier this year we crossed a critical threshold of 400 ppm of carbon emissions in the earths atmosphere, and scientists (and Nature) have made it perfectly clear that we need to be below 350 ppm for a livable planet. We can stay on the path of continued peril or change course and choose a path of promise that a safe and clean energy future provides. We have a choice to make. One of the most important founders of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson, had this to say about choice, and though her statement was made half a century ago, it articulates precisely our current circumstance: We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frosts familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the roadthe one less traveled by offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth. Carson gave these words to our generation and those to come as a clear directive. Her entreaty to usto choose the road less traveledis the urgent challenge of our time. In light of this, the Womens Earth and Climate Caucus in partnership with eraGlobal alliance is hosting the International Womens Earth and Climate Summit in New York on September 20th-23rd to address our choices for global climate action. What we know is that national and international responses of governments to runaway climate change and to the root causes of the crisis have not been equivalent to the escalating urgency of the situation and what Nature is reflecting back to us. We cant afford to wait to embark on the less traveled road, and we need to do so rather quickly. For this reason, 100 women leaders from the Global South and the Global North are gathering to draft a Women's Climate Action Agenda, outlining the specifics of an international effort to move forward at speed and scale with solutions to address the climate crisis. The Women's Climate Action Agenda will amplify the remarkable work already being done by women around the world to address sustainable solutions, and sound the call for accelerated action, increased funding, and meaningful policy at the global, national, regional and local levels.

The International Womens Earth and Climate Summit represents a cohort of delegates working at the highest levels of international policy setting, working on local and international climate campaigns, implementing on-the-ground grassroots climate solutions and generating businesses for a clean energy future. I believe we are not in a crisis because we cant find solutions. We are in a crisis because we are not implementing solutions already here (from solar, wind and geothermal technologies to eco-cities, agro ecology, permaculture, new cultural narratives and new economic structures and indicators): and this is precisely where women can make all the difference. Women are responsible for half of the worlds food production and produce between 6080% of the food in most developing countries. Women provide 65% of household food production in Asia, 70-80% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women standing together with our male allies are envisioning a world where women, especially those growing our food, no longer own less then 1% of land and wealth. When women farmers are empowered, we will see food security. Furthermore, the United Nations has repeatedly recognized that effective sustainable water resources management depends on engaging women at all levels of decisionmaking and implementation. It is now recognized that the exclusion of women from the planning of water supply and sanitation schemes is a major cause of their high rate of failure. Women in North America determine 80% of all consumer purchases. Imagine how that market power could be mobilized to significantly reduce carbon emissions through the application of purchasing choices and demands on the market, including demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Empowering women is essential. United Nation studies show that weather we look to the developed or developing world, when you empower women through jobs and education some very important things happen that are foundational to sustainability: economies improve, populations stabilize and health of communities improve. Companies do business better and nations govern better, when women comprise 30 per cent of the leadership, can you imagine if we raise that to 50 per cent? Moreover, womens decision-making has important implications for climate change; a study of 130 countries found that countries with higher female parliamentary representation are more prone to ratify international environmental treaties. There is an enormous opportunity to engage women worldwide in solutions and the International Womens Earth and Climate Summit and the ongoing work coming out of this strategy meeting is designed to empower women to take action until the climate crisis is resolved.

Women cant afford to wait and the world cant afford to wait to empower women. Lets remember the power of the Chipko movement where women saved entire forests, the Suffrage movement, the Rural Womens movement, the Liberian Womens Peace Movement. There is a profound way women create an unstoppable force when united together. At the International Womens Earth and Climate Summit delegates will be mobilizing a powerful global network of women stakeholders in climate change-- to support actions from the grassroots to the halls of decision-making. As, Bill McKibben of 350.org has stated, Well never get the solutions we needthe solutions everyone has known about for two decadesunless we build the movement first. We cannot afford to wait for governments or any other institutions. We also cannot ignore the historical and interrelated destructive treatment of both women and nature in our current dominator model of societies. In the upcoming Summit, women leaders will be asking: how do we re-orientate the dominant, industrialized societies so that they pursue human well-being in a manner that contributes to the health of our Mother Earth instead of undermining it? Delegates are calling for system change. And for this, I believe, we need a rights-based approach to solutions. Consequently, we will be exploring the guiding principles of the Womens Earth and Climate Caucus, which are : Womens rights, Indigenous rights, Natures rights and Future Generation rights. These are the voices that have been missing and these are the voices that will restore balance and generate systemic change. Delegates will be calling for new economic structures and indicators such as Bhutans Gross National Happiness Index, which are not based on GDP or endless material growth. Amongst other demands, the women will be calling for a true cost economy and putting a price on carbon. Our economy is dangerously disconnected from our ecosystems upon which our lives depend and we will be calling to reject a false green economy. The delegates will be exploring laws that protect our Earth and all species-- and because of this --the Summit outcomes will strongly advocate for earth laws: Rights of Nature/Rights of Mother Earth. Rights of Nature laws provide a foundation and framework for the deep systemic change we know is necessary. Earth laws recognize the inherent meaning, sacredness and value of the natural world: that which is not tradable or subject to commerce. Indigenous communities have been demonstrating this worldview for thousands of years, and, to this end, in order to truly protect our Earth, we must stop the commodification and financialization of nature. We must stop treating our rivers, forest and mountains as property.

The women gathering for the International Womens Earth and Climate Summit recognize that now, more than ever, as we face climate change, it is time to raise our ambitions to the level that science and the natural world demands. We are exceeding 3 of 9 planetary boundaries --climate change; bio-diversity loss; changes to the nitrogen cycle. It is time to radically change our trajectory. In this great era of potential peril or promise depending on the choices we make now, it is time to listen to the voices of women and nature. It is time to respect and protect the astonishing beauty and diversity of life on our Earth Mother and to realize we are in fact inseparable from nature, we are nature. The International Womens Earth and Climate Summit will be live streamed with the capacity for interactivity. Please join us September 20-23 at www.iweci.org Osprey Orielle Lake is Founder/President of The Women's Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) and is author of the award-winning book, Uprisings For The Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature. www.iweci.org