Statement by His Excellency Abdullah Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Virtual ministerial meeting in the margins of the High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council

24 February 2021

High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council “Back in Geneva: New Frontiers for Human Rights. Pandemic Preparedness and Response”

(Generation equality Forum: Action coalition on Feminist Action for Climate Justice)

Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Warmest greetings to everyone who is joining us for this event from around the world. It is an honour for me to address you on this panel with these distinguished speakers, on a topic which is crucial for my country.

The nexus between climate change, human rights and gender has always been clear to the Maldives. Rise in global temperatures and sea-levels, coupled with extreme weather events and changes in precipitation are directly or indirectly impacting the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in all our countries.

These impacts and their implications were detailed in the submission by the Maldives to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018. In this submission I emphasized a fundamental imbalance between the scientific parameters of climate change and the attention devoted to its human costs.

We are facing an unprecedented crisis where our climate vulnerabilities have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in even greater human costs. In most communities, women are disproportionately suffering from these socio-economic impacts, including loss of livelihoods, additional caregiving responsibilities, and restrictions in mobility. These new challenges, combined with existing gender norms, roles and biases continue to limit their ability to adapt to climate change, as well as contribute to mitigation.

As I acknowledge progress made over the years on integrating human rights into the climate agenda, I am also cognizant there are many aspects that require significant focus – especially the gender related impacts of climate change.

This must obviously build on existing efforts. For instance, at COP 25, we were pleased to welcome the 5-year enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender and its Gender Action Plan, which is a significant step in gender-responsive climate action.

However, these actions need to be more closely interlinked with gender specific goals and targets under other international frameworks and instruments as well. They also need to be more urgent, given the rightly ambitious timelines that we have set for achieving global gender parity.

In this context, the Maldives is committed to driving holistic, scaled up and enhanced action, including through the Generation Equality Forum, which kicks off in Mexico at the end of March this year. As you may be aware, this forum convened by UN Women, aims to secure concrete, ambitious and transformative commitments to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality through six action coalitions.

The Maldives is a co-lead of the coalition on “Feminist Action for Climate Justice.” The work of the coalition aims at producing a list of focused and concrete actions that can deliver maximum results, and formulating principles to inform and guide these actions. I encourage all of you to actively engage in and contribute to the work of these coalitions, to deliver effective outcomes at the Forum.

It is clear that our aspirations from the Beijing Conference 25 years ago still have not been realized, and a more targeted and integrated approach is required. An approach that catalyzes not only governments, but also civil society, private sector, academia and all aspects of the community. This is precisely what the Generation Equality Forum strives to achieve, and we look forward to working with everyone to generate tremendous momentum and commitments ahead of the meetings in March and June.

Climate change is a war that mankind has ignorantly waged with nature. But I believe that women have the potential to lead the way to peace and harmony with nature. To achieve a greener, more sustainable and prosperous future, we must empower, honor, and respect all women and girls.