Government Cancels Oil Lease near Blackfeet Reservation

Project: Native Women Leaders and Advocates Defending Sacred Places in the Southwest

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The Bureau of Land Management has made a final decision to cancel a 30 year old gas exploration lease held by a Louisiana oil company on a remote section of Lewis and Clark National Forest, since oil leasing is now banned there. The National Forest is also within the territories of the Blackfeet Reservation.

Photo: Tribune file photo
Photo: Tribune file photo

To the Blackfeet, it is the “Backbone of the World” where they were created, and associated with culturally important spirits, heroes and historic figures central to Blackfeet religion and traditional practices. Today, it’s part of a designated Traditional Cultural District.

You can read more about the historic decision here.

The Fight Over Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks

Project: Native Women Leaders and Advocates Defending Sacred Places in the Southwest

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Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The San Francisco Peaks are a sacred to over a dozen native tribes in the southwest. They have also long been the hotbed of controversial views and court battles going back to 2000. The Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort located on land managed by the forest service on the Peaks, entered into a partnership with the City of Flagstaff to use reclaimed wastewater to make fake snow. The Hopi, filed a suit against the city, and then recently voted unanimously to support the implementation of a filtration system if they withdrew their lawsuit. However, the citizens of Flagstaff have only just been made aware of the recent deal (per confidential requirements by law) and thus, the people have been unable to voice their say, including the 12 other tribes that consider the Peaks sacred. Many -Native and non-native alike, have voiced their opinion that they don’t believe the filter will be enough.

The treated wastewater is already required to meet water quality standards set by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, but critics have long complained that some pollutants, including hormones and pharmaceuticals, get through the city’s treatment systems and threaten human and environmental health.

Read the rest of the article here.

A Glimpse at Women-Led Movements

Project: South Asia Small Grants Initiative

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Source: Rucha Chitnis, Yes! Magazine
Source: Rucha Chitnis, Yes! Magazine

Dayamani Barla, the Indian journalist who led an extraordinary movement in an effort to stop ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company from displacing thousands of indigenous people in Jharkhand. She discusses her views on development and explains them from an indigenous world-view:

“We want development, but not at our cost. We want development of our identity and our history. We want that every person should get equal education and healthy life. We want polluted rivers to be pollution free. We want wastelands to be turned green. We want that everyone should get pure air, water, and food. This is our model of development.”

In addition to Barla, there’s a group of Maasai women in Loliondo, Tanzania, who in 2013 braved threats and violence to prevent a “land grab” east of the Serengeti National Park. Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), fosters leadership and personal transformation in Latina immigrant women and promotes change for social and economic justice. After the Nepal earthquake in late spring of 2015, it became quickly evident just how crucial the leadership of women has been in rebuilding Nepal -from caring for the sick and injured, looking after children, growing food, to literally rebuilding the cities. You can read about these organizations and more, and the incredible women behind them, here.

Biodiversity’s Impact on Women

Project: Traditional agriculture solutions for women farmers in India

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For many women, biodiversity is the cornerstone of their work, their belief systems and their basic survival. Apart from the ecological services that biodiversity provides, there is the collection and use of natural resources. For indigenous and local communities in particular, direct links with the land are fundamental

The United Nations Environmental Programme, has a series of chapters, or in-depth articles about women and their relationships with various aspects of nature. One of those chapters touches on Biodiversity, land protection and sustainable development. Aside from the ability to provide food, shelter, and resources for their survival, biodiversity in any given area has a profound impact on the inhabitants of said area. Loss of overall diversity can be devastating.  Biodiversity allows women the world over to sustain their livelihoods, bring themselves up from poverty and empower their children to follow in their footsteps.

You can read the full article here.

COP21: Time to Put a Cap on Global Gender Inequality

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By: Katie Douglas, WEA Intern

COP21 (1)

“I will ensure this… the climate battle must be fought for, and with, women,” stated Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development. These words are Fabius’ bold commitment for the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP) which starts today in Paris, over which he will preside as President. For WEA and our global allies, his declaration is a real opportunity for world leaders to highlight and recommit themselves to addressing the intersectional relationship of women and the environment on an international level. The only question is whether Fabius and other decision-makers have the gumption to follow through on such promises made months ago? Or will COP21 be yet another international meeting that renders gender equality irrelevant to climate change, and creates an environmental protocol without the mechanisms to enforce it?

COP began as an international response to climate change with the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale. COP21 represents a chance for representatives from over 190 countries to cooperatively create universal agreements, all in the aim of keeping our climate below 2°C or 3.6°F. The U.S., the European Union., Russia, China, and India will largely negotiate the next 50 year agenda, as they are all among the highest emitters of greenhouse gases. However, in the past these powerhouse countries have failed to prioritize the critical role of and impacts on women in the global environmental movement.

One of the many reasons women are so incredibly impacted by the effects of climate change is due to the vital role they play in securing the natural resources that their families depend upon for survival, such as clean water, food, and fuel. Around 70% of women work in agriculture in low-income food-deficit countries, though generally women own less than 10% of the land. These women are already forced to mitigate the effects of climate change that drive soil erosion, drought, and food scarcity, and through traditional methods and knowledge these women are able to adapt successfully. The2014 Copenhagen Consensus stated that agriculture research is the single most effective way to invest in fighting malnourishment. Combine this with the fact that agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to pollution, and the answer is straightforward: Invest in women as keepers of traditional knowledge and stewards of natural resources, provide them with the support and networks necessary to develop their community-based, sustainable solutions, and witness how the ripple of their efforts become a wave of transformation.

But one of the biggest challenges in constructing an effective international protocol is designing the mechanisms to enforce it. Past COPs have only created legally non-binding frameworks for treaty negotiations, such as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. So long as countries can opt out of ratifying treaties that might actually impact their emission levels, there seems little prospect for any sort of enforcement on pollutant control. However, at COP21 there is hope for change as the conference’s main goal is to, for the first time, create a universal, legally binding agreement with which to effectively combat climate change. A global accord where individual countries are actually held accountable to their actions is an opportunity to create environmental protocols that invest in the women leaders who are already adapting to these changes.

For WEA and our allies around the world, we can only hope that this rare opportunity for change will not overlook women—who are critical agents in any long-term plans for our earth and future generations—and that those world leaders like Laurent Fabius will hold true to their words. Because it’s time for a protocol that doesn’t merely cap our emissions, but asks us to restructure our world to a more sustainable way of life. So let’s make a change and invest in women to invest in a sustainable future.

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Further Reading:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurent-fabius/taking-climate-action-for-and-with-women_b_6819596.html
http://ecowatch.com/2015/07/06/carl-pope-paris-climate-talks/