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Climate Action: Women hold the key

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mary robinsonUN Women Viet Nam/Pham Xuan Binh. Ha Noi, 05 September  2016 - Today, at a roundtable at the Green One UN House in Hanoi, Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, heard strong grassroots voices calling for more women to be engaged in climate change and disaster risk management action.

With the theme of 'Climate Action: Women hold the key", the roundtable brought together local women, policy makers and development partners to hear how women's participation can make a meaningful difference to the climate change and disaster management work, particularly in the current emergency response to drought and saltwater intrusion in Viet Nam.

The roundtable showcased presentations from four women who have played active roles in climate change responses and disaster management in Ben Tre, Bac Kan, Dong Thap and Thua Thien - Hue. These provinces are among those most at risk from climate change and disasters in Viet Nam. The women shared their experiences of how climate change has impacted on their lives, the challenges they face and what solutions they have developed.

"Women are playing an important role in dealing with climate change and disasters. They are the first ones to take care of family members when the disasters strike. Disaster risk reduction planning and adaptation to climate change will not be successful without including the perspectives of women. Community resilience to disasters cannot be achieved without increasing the resilience of women. We need to capitalize on women's resourcefulness as we tackle the challenges of climate change," said Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative in Viet Nam.

In the second part of the event, participants proposed solutions to increase women's participation in design and implementation of gender responsive climate policies. Participants also discussed how to translate grassroots experiences into policy and what to do to support and promote women's capacity and knowledge. This will enable them to become catalysts of sustainable practices in their communities.

"I really very much appreciate this strong gender dimension which came through from every participant today. This is encouraging for Viet Nam. Clearly you all understand the value of ensuring the full and meaningful participation of women in climate change and risk management that is, I believe, going to be vital to make communities more resilient and to ensure that we harness all the potential," said Ms. Mary Robinson in her concluding remark at the event.

Viet Nam is one of the countries most vulnerable to, and most affected by climate change and disasters. The Global Climate Risk Index 2015 for 1994-2013 ranked Viet Nam in seventh place. With the majority of the population living in low-lying river basins and coastal areas, it is estimated that more than 70% of the population at risk of multiple hazards. Extreme disasters in the form of flood and storms are more frequent in recent years, causing more damage to people and impacting significantly on the economy.

With the impacts of climate change already being felt, the UN belives it is now more important than ever to mobilize resources from all stakeholders in order to manage natural disasters more effectively. Women's capacities, skills and knowledge are valuable resources that are not yet fully being harnessed. Putting women at the heart of climate change action will unlease their collective power, and empower them to play a key role in the national efforts to adress disaster and climate change.

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