Inspirational Women at COP24

Three years after the signing of the historic Paris Agreement, the halls of the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland buzz with unquenchable energy. Primed with anticipation and pressed by the international community to finalize the Paris Agreement Rulebook, delegates and negotiators from each nation anxiously brush past one another on the way to their closed-door morning coordination meetings. But while the daunting findings of the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 degrees loom large in the minds of many COP participants, a small group of passionate change-makers resolve to inspire coordinated action and enhance ambition by showcasing remarkable projects and relaying beautiful stories of partnership and success. As we reflect on the growth and progress of 2018 and usher in the New Year, the Carbon Institute would like to celebrate the inspirational women whose determination and expertise has catalyzed progress across nearly all sectors and scales, from enhancing NDC ambition and building capacity to protecting coastlines one mangrove root at a time.
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For many, the primary focus over the coming decade will be to drastically decrease, or mitigate, the annual release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. For some, however, the innate vulnerabilities of their homes and communities to the worsening impacts of climate change force them to shift primary focus from mitigation to adaptation. Actions aimed at adapting to a changing environment can take many forms, and nobody knows these forms better than Saliha Dobardzic. As the Senior Climate Change Specialist for the Adaptation Fund, Saliha has worked to mobilize over US$531million towards 80 projects designed to help communities identify vulnerability and adapt. From agriculture and water security to disaster risk and coastal resilience, Saliha has helped to oversee the implementation of projects in 28 Least-Developed Countries and 18 Small-Island States. During an event at the Brazil Pavilion, Dobardzic reflected on some of the challenges the Adaptation Fund has faced over the past 5 years, such as generating baseline data to measure key outcomes in Ecosystem-Based Adaptation. In the coming year, Saliha is committed to funding even more projects and helping vulnerable communities prepare for and adapt to a changing environment.
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For some time now, Megan Bettilyon has been working to promote global health in the face of climate change. As the Director of Inventive Government Solutions and Special Projects for Global Good, Megan has helped to forge a direct and powerful linkage between small communities and the private sector worldwide. Megan was instrumental in inventing the Arktek, a self-contained climate-regulating transport and storage device for vaccinations. With this invention, even mothers in the hottest regions of central Africa will be able to trust that the vaccinations they’re giving to their newborn children are safe and effective. Recently, Megan embarked on a long-term study of the financial viability of incorporating renewable energy into large energy grid systems. As a graduate of UC San Diego, Megan also works to close the gaps between science and policy each year by sponsoring PhD students from Scripps Institute of Oceanography to attend and participate in United Nations Conferences.
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For centuries, the separation between science and religion has prevented global cooperation and the vital sharing of knowledge and ideas. However, Sheila Andrus, the Science Manager for the Episcopalian Diocese of California, has stepped up to make a huge difference on the international stage. Over the past year, Sheila and her husband Marc, the Bishop of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, have worked to create an environmental awareness website and are in the final stages of developing their own app! In this app, people from around the world will be able to register their church and use patterns of consumption to determine their carbon footprint. The app includes over 70 different tips for diminishing our yearly carbon emissions, and is designed so that participating organizations can compete against one another to achieve the greatest change. According to Sheila, 40% of our annual emissions are associated with simple consumer choice. With this app, Sheila believes that the Episcopalian Church and others in the inter-faith community could very realistically play a massive role in holding global warming to within 1.5 degrees.
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Ursula Rakova, hailing all the way from a small group of atoll islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea, is a scientist and community organizer committed to empowering the next generation of young women to stand up and lead the charge against climate change. Being that no point on Ursula’s home island stands more than 1.2 metersabove sea level, her community finds itself in a particularly dire situation. In fact, in a presentation during the second week of COP24, Ursula described how strong currents and rising tides have already divided one nearby island into two halves. However, through an organization she founded called Tulele Peisa, or Sailing the Waves on our Own, Ursula works to limit deforestation and maximize resilience by educating women about the benefits of mangroves. For example, by supplying women in coastal communities with fuel-efficient cookstoves, less mangroves need to be cut down for use as firewood. At the end of her presentation, Ursula described how she urges young women to get involved in the climate movement so that one day, they could be the UN Negotiators fighting for the lives and livelihoods of their island communities on the world stage.
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The Carbon Institute graciously acknowledges and celebrates the work of these incredible women. We look forward to sharing more inspiring stories of women in climate change and hope that COP25 in Santiago, Chile will present even greater opportunities to highlight, discuss and enhance gender equality.
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To learn more about global progress towards Gender Equality in 2018, Click This Link!