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Calls for Focus on Population Issues in ETS Review

Embargoed until 1130am 9 April

Cross-Party Parliamentarians’ Group Calls for Focus on Population Issues in ETS Review

Wellington, 9 April 2009: Gender, sexual and reproductive health, and other population issues need to be at the heart of addressing climate change, including the current Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Review Dr Jackie Blue, Chair, and Hon Steve Chadwick, Vice Chair, of the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) will be briefing colleagues today as follow-up to their NZPPD written submission to the ETS Review Committee.

“There is increasing recognition around the world that these issues are vital to address in mitigating and adapting to climate change. New Zealand cannot afford to ignore this”, says Dr Jackie Blue.

The NZPPD submission states that there are fundamental and powerful differences in the way women and men: contribute to climate change; are impacted by climate change; their capacities to cope with and adapt to climate change; and their access and participation in decision making on climate change.

It is a widely accepted fact that climate change will impact worst on the poorest and most vulnerable. Women comprise 70% of those living below the poverty line around the globe. People who heavily rely on local natural resources for their livelihood are and will be severely impacted by climate change. Again, women disproportionately feature in this group. There is also much evidence that the disadvantaged position of women means greater difficulty in coping with natural disasters, and such disasters are increasingly being linked to climate change.

“It is important not to only view women as victims of climate change. Rather, women can be positive agents of change and need to be at the decision making tables on climate change”, says Dr Jackie Blue.

The NZPPD states that the link between gender and climate change is likely to be pronounced in our own Pacific region whilst inequalities between men and women persist in the region, including high rates of violence against women and very low levels of female political participation in many areas.

The NZPPD also states that there is a clear body of evidence that investing in sexual and reproductive health and rights is an indispensable strategy for achieving environmental sustainability, including mitigating and adapting to climate change. For example, providing sexual and reproductive health information and services that enable people a choice to decide on the number of children they want can help balance natural use and needs of the population.

“If we continue and develop our focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights, evidence supports the conclusion that this will have positive effects on the environment”, says Hon Steve Chadwick.

The parliamentary group is calling for the prioritisation of gender, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and other population issues in New Zealand’s approach to climate change mitigation, adaptation, technology, policy, and financing. This should include an ongoing prioritisation of related issues in New Zealand’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) and related activities, particularly in Asia and the Pacific.

“Climate change is a global issue, and as global citizens our actions here in New Zealand will be felt far beyond our own shores. At the same time, the actions that we take regionally and globally are fundamentally connected to New Zealand’s own approach and experience of climate change and if effective, can compliment and benefit our actions at home. Our approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change needs to continue to go beyond our own borders, to our relationships and programmes in other countries”, says Dr Jackie Blue.

Background
The NZPPD is cross-party, with currently 46 members representing just under 40 percent of all New Zealand MPs. The group is an active part of parliamentary life in New Zealand and works to further the achievement of the 20 Year Programme of Action developed at the groundbreaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Family Planning International houses the NZPPD Secretariat.

ENDS

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