These are the words of Casey Camp-Horinek, matriarch of the Ponca Nation, when speaking of the upcoming Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice—a free, virtual, gender-inclusive public forum being held September 25–30, 2021.
Around the world, diverse peoples’ movements have been working to organize for environmental justice in the face of our present climate emergency; often it is women who lead these movements.
Hosted by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International (WECAN), this event will assemble over 100 leaders from over 40 countries whose aim it is to encourage governments to increase climate action by examining the root causes of interlocking crises of environmental and social injustice, adopting a climate justice framework and providing a diverse array of possible solutions to the climate crisis. Speakers include Indigenous, Black and Brown grassroots and frontline organizers, activists, policymakers and leaders speaking in a collective voice: We are not waiting. We need action now.
The assembly will be held parallel to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 76). This timing is intentional and significant—not only because of the urgency of the climate crisis but also because “it’s the last time world governments will meet before one of the most important climate talks that has taken place since the Paris Agreement,” said WECAN executive director Osprey Orielle Lake.
Lake is referring to the U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26, being held in Glasgow October 31 through November 12, 2021. It is expected that climate change will be among the topics for discussion at UNGA 76 and it is at COP26 that governments must submit enhanced action plans and targets as part of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
While it is uncertain whether U.S. President Biden will include the climate crisis in his first address to the UNGA on Tuesday, he has returned the U.S. to the Paris Agreement and committed to a 50–52 percent reduction in U.S. emissions from 2005 levels in 2030—in line with the COP26 goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In order for the U.S. to “build back better,” we need to #BuildBackFossilFree. The Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice will address this, as well as topics such as feminist climate policy, food sovereignty, regenerative energy, fossil fuel resistance campaigns, feminist care economics, challenging corporate power and more through discussions of visions, projects, strategies and frameworks.