Tuesday, representatives from different organizations shared their insights on gender equality in biodiversity policy at the COP15 in Montreal. 

According to Archana Soreng (India) member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, environmental policies that truly include women are possible and they play a key role in conservation and sustainability.  

“The post-2020 Global Biodiversity framework must be elaborate from the perspective of a gender-sensitive and human rights and include various indicators that will help people to design policies and laws”, said Archana Soreng.

Gender-sensitive approach takes into account the differences between men and women in all aspects of the planning and implementation, from an initial idea to formulating solutions. Also it recognizes the vulnerability of women that are struggling to defend land, resources and territories. 

According to Soreng the framework also needs to recognize that girls and women are looked down upon and in many regions in the world they are marginalized.   

“Land grabbing must be addressed, indigenous and women shouldn’t be victims of climate politics, ” said Soreng. 

Women and indigenous people play a crucial role in protecting land, resources and territories, and their work is indispensable in global efforts to mitigate the climate and planetary ecosystems crisis.  But many indigenous face enormous risks and violence, from both international and national, State and non-State actors, including business corporations. However, the violence and threats faced by indigenous are often less visible.

Indigenous fear of being evicted in the name of conservation

The fear that the plan won’t recognise or strengthen the rights of Indigenous people and local communities comes from past experiences of many indigenous people around the world that were evicted from their lands in the name of conservation.

But research has shown that, beyond doubt, Indigenous people are nature’s best guardians. It is no coincidence that 80 percent of Earth’s biodiversity is found in their territories, which make up about 20 percent of the world’s land. 

Those who have done the least to damage the environment, stand to lose the most. Because they rely on their lands for survival.

For example, the latest plans by the Tanzanian government involve evicting thousands of Maasai from their homeland, to make way for elite tourism and trophy hunting. As with most cases involving Indigenous populations, they are neither consulted nor included in decision making processes and are not compensated for any losses.

The Maasai leaders called in April, in a letter, on the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and the countries of the European Union (EU) to work to preserve their ancestral lands in the face of the proposed reserve of hunting, which would be managed by a company belonging to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Source: MSN)

In June, UN experts expressed concern about “continued encroachment on traditional Maasai lands and dwellings” and criticized the “lack of transparency” on the part of Tanzanian authorities.  (Source: MSN)

Already in many Protected Areas around the world, who have called the land home for generations of women, are no longer allowed to live on and use the natural environment to feed their families, gather medicinal plants or visit sacred sites.