1 July 2014

Africa: High-Level Gender and Environment Forum Urges Wider Recognition of Gender Needs in Post-2015 Development Agenda

press release

The High-Level Gender and Environment Forum, held at the first United Nations Environment Assembly in June, emphasized the pressing need for integrating the gender equality agenda into the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The two-day forum - held under the theme,Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Transforming sustainable environmental management - brought together over 100 women leaders from Government, UN organisations and civil society to better articulate the mainstreaming of women's needs into development policies as part of the overall Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Delivering the forum's keynote address was Rael Ruto, Spouse of the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya and founder of the Joyful women's Organisation, Kenya. She said that environmental sustainability was key to the success of the over 105,000-member community organisation.

H.E. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary of the Environment, Water and Natural Resources of Kenya, said: "We need to make every effort to champion the setting of gender targets as one of the global targets for monitoring; particularly in the context of sustainable consumption and production through resources efficiency."

Also present were Anna-Karin Hedström, Deputy Director General and Head of Division of the Division for International Affairs of Sweden's Ministry of the Environment; Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director-General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; Nardos Bekele-Thomas, UNDP representative to Kenya and UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya; and Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN-Women.

The forum recognized the importance of a holistic approach in the implementation of the SDGs, while recognizing the prominent linkages between gender equity and environmental sustainability.

A special tree-planting ceremony led by UNEP and UN-Women was held to mark the occasion of the 20-Year Review of the Beijing Platform of Action (BPFA). The Platform of Action - initially adopted at the historic 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing, China - outlines 12 critical areas of concern regarding gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Section K of the document highlights the unique contribution of women in environmental protection, with particular emphasis on fair and equitable decision making.

It is expected that the ongoing Beijing +20 Review will accelerate implementation and re-energize global support for the gender equality agenda.

Key outcomes - which included recommendations on emerging gender-related concerns and interventions necessary to promote gender-sensitive policies at the national, regional and international level - were later presented at the High-level UN Environment Assembly Ministerial Meeting.

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