Summary report, 11–13 October 2004

UNEP 1st Global Women's Assembly on Environment: Women as the Voice for the Environment (WAVE)

The United Nations Environment Programmes (UNEP) first Global Womens Assembly on Environment: Women as the Voice for the Environment (WAVE) convened from 11-13 October 2004, in Nairobi, Kenya. The Assembly focused on generating outputs related to the upcoming Beijing+10 review session, the five-year review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the 13th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13). Over 150 participants from 60 countries attended the Assembly, some from remote indigenous communities and small island developing States.

Parallel and joint meetings of the Assembly were held with the Network of Women Ministers for the Environment meeting, Women in Charge of the Environment, which convened from 11-12 October. Participants in the Network drafted informal recommendations on the Women and Environment section of the Beijing Platform of Action (PFA), which will be sent to the 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) / Global Ministerial Environmental Forum (GMEF) and CSD-13 and addresses future work of the Network. The WAVE Assembly accepted a Manifesto, which included these recommendations. The WAVE Manifesto and WAVE recommendations and project ideas will be forwarded to relevant intergovernmental meetings, including the Beijing+10 review session and the WSSD follow-up. The Assembly highlighted the crucial role of women in promoting: womens leadership in environment; the participation of indigenous, rural and urban women in decision making; a gender-culture-environment; local-global linkages; environment and health linkages; capacity building and education; and peace. Also during the WAVE Assembly, UNEP launched a new publication entitled Natural Allies: UNEP and Civil Society.


FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN: The Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) convened in Beijing, China, from 4-15 September 1995. An estimated 50,000 government delegates, UN representatives, NGOs and members of the media attended the Conference and its parallel NGO Forum in Huairou, China. The principal themes of the Conference were the advancement and empowerment of women in relation to womens human rights, women and poverty, women and decision-making, the girl-child, violence against women, and other areas of concern. FWCW delegates adopted the Beijing Declaration and PFA. The PFA set out an agenda for empowering women and accelerating implementation of the 1985 Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies (NFLS), aiming to achieve significant change by the year 2000.

BEIJING+5: The General Assembly held its 23rd Special Session from 5-10 June 2000, at UN Headquarters in New York. The Session, entitled Women 2000: Gender equality, development and peace for the 21st century, was attended by a total of 2,003 government delegates, along with 2,043 NGO representatives from 1,036 organizations. Delegates negotiated and adopted a Review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the 12 critical areas of concern in the PFA, and further actions and initiatives for overcoming obstacles to the implementation of the PFA (A/S-23/2/Add.2, as amended by A/S-23/AC.1/L.1/Add.1-42). The Special Session also adopted a Political Declaration (A/S-23/2, paragraph 56), which had been completed during negotiations in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which acted as the Preparatory Committee for Beijing+5 at its March 2000 meeting. By most accounts, the final agreement at least maintained the gains made at Beijing, and in a few cases, such as on historic first references to honor crimes and forced marriages, set new precedents.

MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: In September 2000, the UN Millennium Summit adopted the MDGs, setting targets for, inter alia: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality; reducing child mortality; combating disease; and ensuring environmental sustainability. The eight MDGs comprise 18 targets and 48 indicators, and are universally accepted as a framework for measuring development progress. To support the MDGs, the UN launched the Millennium Project in 2002. Over a period of three years, the Millennium Project intends to devise a recommended plan of implementation so developing countries will meet the MDG targets by 2015. Four MDGs draw particular attention to the role of women and environment. They include: MDG 1, eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; MDG 2, achieve universal primary education; MDG 3, promote gender equality and empower women; and MDG 7, ensure environmental sustainability.

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Summit adopted two main documents: the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), both of which address womens issues. The Johannesburg Declaration stresses womens empowerment and emancipation, and reaffirms commitments to sustainable development and building a humane, equitable and caring global society, cognizant of the need for human dignity for all. Paragraph 6(d) of the JPOI contains language on promoting womens access and participation in decision making, eliminating violence and discrimination, and improving the status, health and economic welfare of women. Some countries highlighted a lack of gender sensitivity in the draft JPOI. Delegates also agreed to target health impacts resulting from air pollution, with particular attention to women and children. The role of women and gender equity were highlighted in discussions on agriculture, and womens involvement in participatory decision making was highlighted in the Major Groups roundtable.

CSW-48: The 48th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held from 1-12 March 2004, at UN Headquarters in New York. Over 1,000 non-governmental organizations, representing the five regions, attended the Commission. The Commission adopted five resolutions by consensus on: the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; women, the girl-child and HIV/AIDS; mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes in the UN system; revitalization and strengthening of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women; and preparations for the 49th session of the Commission. The resolution on the preparations for the review and appraisal, mandated in the multi-year programme of work of the Commission for its 49th session in 2005, called for a focus on implementation, including through the expanded use of interactive dialogue and the broad-based participation of governmental delegations at the highest levels and of civil society and organizations in the UN system. The Commission recommended that ECOSOC recommend that the General Assembly convene a high-level plenary during the Commissions session in March 2005, to which the Commission could then transfer its outputs.

UNEP CONSULTATIVE SEMINAR ON GENDER AND ENVIRONMENT: In preparation for the Global Womens Assembly on Environment, UNEP organized a Consultative Seminar on Gender and Environment from 25-26 February 2004, in Nairobi, Kenya, with a view to tackling some of the outstanding substantive and strategic challenges in the area of gender and environment. The discussions and recommendations from each of the six working groups set up under the seminar fed into the planning of the Global Womens Assembly on Environment, and into UNEPs continuous work on environment and gender mainstreaming.

EIGHTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNEP GC/GMEF: The eighth Special Session of the UNEP GC/GMEF took place from 29-31 March 2004, in Jeju, Republic of Korea. The eighth Special Session of the GC/GMEF was the first meeting to include the participation of 90 ministers from 153 countries (the most ever), and the first special session since the WSSD. It was also the first meeting to concentrate on a substantive issue cluster (water, sanitation and human settlements), reflecting the thematic cluster of the CSD implementation cycle during 2004-2005. Fifty-three of the 58 Member States of the GC were represented. At the conclusion of the ministerial consultations, delegates adopted the Jeju Initiative, containing the Chairs summary of discussions, including on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), water and sanitation, and poverty, health and human settlements. The IWRM section draws particular attention to the involvement of women and adopting the ecosystem approach to IWRM, in order to achieve the MDGs and WSSD targets. Representatives also called for a review of linkages between different environmental problems, with a specific focus on gender.

CSD-12: The twelfth session of the CSD met from 14-30 April 2004, at UN headquarters in New York. The first three days of CSD-12 (14-16 April) served as the preparatory meeting for the International Meeting on the 10-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. The subsequent two weeks (19-30 April) were devoted to the CSD-12 Review Session, during which participants undertook an evaluation of progress in implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the JPOI, focusing on identifying constraints, obstacles, successes and lessons learned with regard to water, sanitation and human settlements.  CSD-12 included two sessions that drew specific attention to women, Empowering Stakeholders to Ensure Participation, in particular, Women as Agents of Change, and Women in Human Settlements Development. Representatives at the meeting drew attention to the fact that women and girls are most affected by poor sanitation, and highlighted the need to secure womens rights to land tenure and water, both with regard to womens participation in IWRM.  The Chairs Summary identifies challenges to be addressed in the follow-up to CSD-12, including enhancing the role and status of women, and mainstreaming gender in planning, decision-making and management. CSD-13 will resume this discussion in April 2005 with a policy focus.


OPENING PLENARY: On Monday, 11 October, the Co-Chair of the Network of Women Ministers for the Environment, Lena Sommestad, Swedens Minister for the Environment, opened the WAVE Assembly and meeting of the Network of Women Ministers for the Environment, which met in a joint session. She said WAVE marks the progress and manifestation of womens power. She recognized that Wangari Maathais receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize raises the profile of sustainable development issues, including poverty eradication. Sommestad stressed that: women are more vulnerable to health hazards and climate change; clean water is a necessity for women; and women should be included in decision making. Noting that much work remains to be done in the run up to the Beijing+10 review, she urged participants to share experiences and create solution-oriented strategies.

Rejoice Mabudafhasi, South Africas Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Co-Chair of the Network of Women Ministers for the Environment, said Maathais receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize represents the first time that the cause of women and environment has received international recognition. She noted that Maathais struggle for the environment has not ended.

Klaus Tpfer, UNEP Executive Director, noted that the Beijing+10 review and the review of the MDGs are essential to assess progress on international targets for poverty reduction, gender equality, and education for children. He also highlighted the link between environment, security and peace, saying that this link should be recognized globally. He indicated that there cannot be lasting peace without environmental sustainability, and noted the need to integrate women in this process. He said spiritual values must be respected and stressed the need for dialogue.

In her keynote address, Wangari Maathai, Kenyas Assistant Minister of Environment and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, expressed her pride and gratitude on receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. She stressed the need to make womens voices heard and to engage decision makers at all levels. Mathaai stated that by implementing strategies that ensure sustainable development and incorporate democratic values, it is possible to promote respect for rights and responsibilities, justice and equity. She thanked participants for their support over the long walk and urged all participants to celebrate their collective victory and carry the torch forward.

Highlighting the link between environmental degradation, rural-urban migration, and slum development, Anna Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, urged environmental ministers to address these linkages and pledged her organizations continued cooperation with the environmental movement.

Bali Devi, Chipko Movement, India, said the penetration of commercial interests in rural communities has marginalized women in the management of common property resources. She urged participants to view the preservation of culture and social practice as integral to environmental conservation, and to recognize the right of local people to manage natural resources.

Describing cases where natural resources have been exploited without the prior informed consent of local communities, Lucy Mulenkei, Indigenous Information Network, Kenya, called on ministers to revise policies that exclude indigenous peoples.

Srilatha Batliwala, Womens Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), India, suggested that WAVE should address three priorities: recasting women as agents and leaders of environmental and economic sustainability; guaranteeing that all international agreements concerning trade and economic and international development abide by human rights and labor agreements; and excluding common property and natural resources from economic reform measures. She called for: a review of implementation at Beijing+10; the identification of financial resources; and the inclusion of environmental objectives in efforts to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). 

ORGANIZATION OF THE ASSEMBLY: Participants at the WAVE Assembly and meeting of the Network of Women Ministers for the Environment convened in joint plenaries on Monday and Tuesday morning to hold three thematic roundtable discussions: A World in Conflict A World in Peace; Womens Rights, Environment, Poverty And Health; and Starting a Mentorship Programme. Discussions from these rountables fed into final WAVE recommendations and project ideas.

On Monday and Tuesday afternoon, WAVE participants met in six thematic working group sessions on: enhancing global-local linkages; global environmental change and gender; urban challenges, environment and gender; WSSD-follow up and international environmental agreements; Beijing+10, CEDAW and MDGs; and capacity building and education. In these sessions, participants identified ways to raise the profile of gender in relation to various aspects of the environment.

On Wednesday, 13 October, the WAVE Assembly accepted, with amendment, three documents: WAVE recommendations from the plenary and working group sessions; associated project ideas; and a WAVE Manifesto. These documents were the outcome of a small drafting group, which drew from discussions in the working group sessions and the roundtable discussions. Participants celebrated the progress made on the documents, which captured the spirit of the meeting and the commitment of participants to continued work on gender and environment. However, the documents note the clear need for adequate resources in order to fully implement the recommendations and project ideas, and highlighted the need for cooperation with major groups and civil society leaders, government and NGOs, indigenous peoples, the private sector, and UN organizations.

While WAVE participants had the opportunity to comment on the documents during the final plenary session, amendments could not be included before the end of the session. As a result, participants were asked to submit amendments in writing, for inclusion in the final documents prior to their presentation at UNEP GC 23/GMEF.

Editors Note: The draft recommendations, project ideas and Manifesto as discussed below reflect each documents content as of 13 October at 7:39 pm. The revised documents will be available on UNEPs website:


A WORLD IN CONFLICT A WORLD IN PEACE: GENDER SENSITIVE POLICIES ON SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS (ROUNDTABLE I): Mabudafahsi facilitated this joint roundtable discussion and noted that the destruction of infrastructure in conflict situations reduces womens access to basic needs.

Massoumeh Ebtekar, Irans Department of Environment, stressed that women must adopt a new vision and deepen their commitment to peace, stating that ethics are key. She described how application of the feminine archetype to management remains a very remote concept. Ebtekar noted that when these feminine archetypes are denied, nature becomes the foremost victim. Noting the effectiveness of women decision makers, she stressed their capacity to promote peace. Saying that women can secure the sustainable aspect of development, Ebtekar highlighted the contribution of women in creating a new vision for young people.

Muborak Sharipova, Open Asia, Tajikistan, presented the results of a study on Central Asia that demonstrates a number of factors that contribute to violence against women. Sharipova indicated that if women are to play a role in guaranteeing peace in their societies, they need to be aware of the theoretical and practical nature of womens work in other parts of the world. She said that, although Central Asian economies have developed a high level of social infrastructure, it has not been enough to ensure democracy and allow women to achieve greater participation in decision making. She called for the establishment of a womens information network, and a bank to support womens initiatives to promote peace in the region.

Marcela Tovar, WEDO, Colombia, said that environmental degradation is both a cause and a consequence of conflict. She noted the gaps in understanding of the links between conflict and gender. With reference to Colombia, she said, inter alia: control over the environment is at the core of conflict; controlled territories are sites of combat and massacres; aerial fumigation to destroy illicit crops is a main cause of conflict and social displacement; women are forced to grow illicit crops in order to access markets; and women both engage in violent action and fall victim to it. She made a number of recommendations, including adopting and implementing a national security policy that incorporates human rights and mainstreaming a gender perspective in all conflicts and peace processes.

Recommendations: In recommendations emerging from Roundtable I, participants drew attention to, inter alia:

  • cbridging the conceptual and empirical gaps in understanding the inter-linkages between conflict, gender relations and environment;
  • exploring the manner in which women both contribute to and benefit from post-conflict and recovery initiatives;
  • improving access to basic needs for women in conflict or post-conflict situations; and
  • encouraging UNEP to become an active member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security.

Project Ideas: Based on the roundtable discussions, project ideas that emerged include:

  • two pilot projects with womens groups, focusing on gender sensitive environmental strategies for post-conflict recovery;
  • an international study on the conceptual, empirical and practical linkages between conflict, gender and environment; and
  • a background paper prepared by UNEP, Major Groups and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the viability and desirability of an international convention on water.

WOMENS RIGHTS, ENVIRONMENT, POVERTY AND HEALTH (ROUNDTABLE II): On Tuesday, 12 October, Zo Randriamaro, Madagascar, presented on globalization, gender and the environment. She noted that the current wave of globalization has increased poverty and inequality both between and within nations, along gender, class and racial lines. She said neoliberal economic policies have perpetuated the exploitation of African natural resources by Northern interests. She noted that the continued outflows of financial resources from African countries inhibit economic growth. She recommended, inter alia: undertaking a systematic analysis of issues at the intersection between globalization, gender and environment, with the participation of women in affected communities; using a human rights framework for trade and economic policy making; and establishing strategic alliances between organizations and networks working on trade and economic justice issues.

Svitlana Slesarenok, MAMA-86, Ukraine, explained that MAMA-86 was established by a group of young mothers who were concerned about the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear accident on the health of their children. She noted successful projects, including: halting the storage of radioactive waste in salt mines; cleaning up polluted areas contaminated with military waste; protecting women and children from nitrate contamination; and participating in the development of Ukraines National Environmental Health Action Plan. Slesarenok indicated that post-liberalization, Ukraine became a country with a high and constantly increasing level of poverty.

Stella Tamang, Indigenous Women, Nepal, said that gender inequalities, environmental deterioration, poor health conditions and poverty are mutually reinforcing. She noted that although many international conferences have taken place to address indigenous womens issues, the situation of most indigenous women remains unchanged. Tamang urged the preservation, protection and promotion of indigenous peoples best practices to prevent impoverishment and improve their health.

Noting the responsibility of Northern countries in promoting sustainable development, Sascha Gabizon, Women in Europe for a Common Future, explained how poverty has affected Western and Eastern Europe. Saying that women are overrepresented in the poorest social groups, Gabizon noted that poor women live in the most polluted areas. To reduce poverty, she said a wide variety of policies are needed, including: rural development policies; land rights for women and the poor; a functioning democracy, transparency and a trustworthy government; employment and investment policies; and an effective housing policy.

In the ensuing discussion, one participant urged the engagement of women in government, and another called for awareness raising. Participants stressed the need for including gender dimensions in projects sponsored by the Global Environment Facility and in UNEP programmes. A participant said that what constitutes best practice should be decided by indigenous peoples. Participants agreed on the need to establish an international womens network, to act as a platform for the exchange of information. A participant stressed that women should influence their long-term prospects by imparting values to their children and grandchildren. Noting that natural resources are often exploited without the understanding of indigenous peoples, a participant said commercial companies should obtain prior informed consent before extracting resources. A participant advocated including a call in the Manifesto to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to take on social and environmental responsibility. 

Recommendations: The roundtable on Womens Rights, Environment, Poverty and Health made the following recommendations:

  • apply the precautionary approach to chemicals management in order to prevent negative effects on womens health by pollutants and toxics;
  • make a concerted effort to sustainably increase biomass production; and
  • provide technical assistance and training to UN treaty bodies, sponsored by UNEP, and apply the provisions of CEDAW and its Optional Protocol to UNEP policies.

Project Ideas: Based on the roundtable discussions, project ideas that emerged include:

  • a project sponsored by UNEP and WHO, in cooperation with national ministries of environment and health, to monitor the gender-differentiated health effects of toxic substances and environmental pollution on women; and
  • a partnership project on the restoration of ecological balances and the promotion of a sustainable increase in biomass production.

STARTING A MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME - A WORLD IN NEED OF FEMALE LEADERSHIP (ROUNDTABLE III): Thandie Shongwe, Swazilands Minister of the Environment, opened this session and noted the need to involve women in science and technology education. She called on UNEP to assist with the mentorship of girls, including through national leadership strategies, and requested the presence of more girls at the next WAVE meeting.

Ruth Mulenga, UNEP Youth Council, Zambia, Afifa Raihana, Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park, Bangladesh, and Ursula Carrascal Vizarreta, Institute for the Protection of the Environment (VIDA), Peru, made a joint presentation on key elements of a mentorship scheme. Raihana noted that the objectives are to share experiences among women leaders and to help young women achieve more. She said participation should be open to anyone willing and able to share knowledge and experience. Noting that informal mentoring is common, Raihana indicated that while there are some formal mentorship programmes, there are none under current UNEP programmes and none that focus exclusively on gender and environment. Vizarreta expanded on her experience with mentorship in Peru, noting that the provision of training opportunities to youth can be very expensive. She urged UNEP to draft guidelines for mentorship. Mulenga noted that mentorship is all about learning and sharing different experiences and expertise. Explaining the drawbacks of the current system, Raihana said there is: no long-term mentorship programme in place; a lack of funds and guidelines; insufficient information; and inadequate organizational commitment. She highlighted demand for life skills such as drafting project proposals and family planning and health.

A number of participants described successful mentorship programmes involving both male and female university students, which are run through their organizations and local communities. A participant noted that the implementation of further mentorship programmes depends on funding and political will. Participants identified the need to educate both parents and children. A participant highlighted four major challenges for female children in developing countries: cultural restraints; access to education; ignorance; and gender discrimination. Participants supported the establishment of an online sharing facility, providing for the transfer of information and knowledge. A participant stressed the need to link environmental solutions with employment to encourage young people to engage in the environmental movement. Highlighting an imbalance in the negotiating skills of delegates from developing countries and developed countries, a participant stressed the need to build capacity to enable developing country delegates to effectively advocate their case.

Recommendations and project ideas associated with this roundtable discussion are included in the outcomes of the Capacity Building and Education working group session.


On Monday and Tuesday, WAVE participants broke into six working group sessions to discuss: enhancing global-local linkages; global environmental change and gender; urban challenges, environment and gender; WSSD-follow up and international environmental agreements; Beijing+10, CEDAW and MDGs; and capacity building and education. On Wednesday, participants convened in a plenary session to discuss and identify draft recommendations and project ideas from each groups discussions. In Wednesday afternoons final plenary, WAVE participants accepted, with amendment, documents containing recommendations and project ideas.

CAPACITY BUILDING AND EDUCATION: WAVE participants met in a working group to discuss recommendations and project ideas on capacity building and education. The group was facilitated by Fatou Ndoye, Senegal, and Habiba Al Marashi, United Arab Emirates.

On Monday, Sayida Vanenburg, CSD Youth representative, Suriname and the Netherlands, said that even if youth are making a difference at the local level, they are unsure of how to participate at the international level. She indicated that education takes place in both the formal and informal sectors, and encouraged women to learn from each other.

One participant noted the importance of education, and said it requires a gender balance and greater attention to involving women in environmental sciences. On gender mainstreaming, a participant questioned the use of the term, saying it has accomplished little. Others suggested establishing gender mainstreaming indicators, instead of removing the term altogether. On mentorship programmes, a participant noted that leadership and mentorship programmes do not have to be implemented in a top-down way. Regarding hygiene and health, a participant highlighted a programme in Romania that trained women to purify drinking water in rural areas. On life skills, a number of participants emphasized the importance of including learning-by-doing in environmental education activities. Participants broke into two small groups to discuss recommendations on formal and informal education sectors.

On Tuesday, the two groups met together to discuss draft recommendations and project ideas. Participants condensed recommendations on informal and formal education from the two groups, which included: non-formal intervention that focuses on changing mens, womens and familial gender attitudes and practices; educating the private sector; support for traditional practices; intensified partnerships; the involvement of children in the media; and behavioral change using a practical curriculum in education.

Recommendations: On Wednesday, WAVE participants accepted the following recommendations:

  • formal and non-formal education curricula should be reviewed and revised to promote and inculcate gender equality values and practices, critical thinking, and analytical and life skills;
  • resources must be made available to strengthen womens capacity building initiatives and required infrastructure;
  • the quality of delivery of basic education should be improved, using an inter-sectoral approach;
  • mentorship programmes that can facilitate multisectoral approaches to knowledge and skills should be designed and implemented; and
  • environmental studies curriculum should be introduced, strengthened and reformed to include gender equality issues.

Project Ideas: Based on the roundtable discussions, project ideas that emerged include:

  • the development of tools and capacity building for women on environment and sustainable development;
  • sectoral and regional mentorship programmes to facilitate multi-sectoral approaches to knowledge and skills on gender and environment; and
  • a compilation of good practices to feed into a review and revision of formal and non-formal education curricula, in order to promote and inculcate gender equality values and practices.

ENHANCING GLOBAL-LOCAL LINKAGES: INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL WOMENS PERSPECTIVES ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A working group met on Monday and Tuesday to discuss enhancing global-local linkages, generate priorities for inclusion in the Manifesto, and develop recommendations and project proposals. The group was facilitated by Laetitia Zobel, UNEP, and Tovar.

On Monday, Mulenkei highlighted the fact that resources are frequently appropriated without prior informed consent, as indigenous peoples fail to understand the full implications of sharing resources. She called on UNEP to focus at the local level and incorporate womens priorities. Stella Therman, South Asia Indigenous Women Forum, Nepal, questioned who should have the power to decide, design and implement development projects, and stressed the need for project managers to work effectively with indigenous peoples. Participants heard examples of environmental degradation associated with the erosion of indigenous culture. On agriculture, a participant highlighted the negative impacts of invasive species on indigenous species, and on people whose livelihoods depend on those species. A participant described the emphasis on diversity in traditional agriculture, and highlighted the security provided by biological diversity. Participants agreed that farmers employing traditional agricultural practices should be recognized as experts, and called on UNEP to recognize the experience of indigenous peoples in protecting natural resources. Participants recommended the development of research programmes with research agendas determined by women. Highlighting illiteracy as a barrier to the participation of indigenous women in commercial enterprise, participants stressed the need for local education. A participant recommended the provision of microfinance to poor women, to allow them to build water pumps and ensure food security. Several participants emphasized the links between culture, identity, belief and the environment in indigenous communities. A participant stressed the need for indigenous peoples to regain their dignity and self esteem before engaging in development.

The working group met again on Tuesday afternoon to develop recommendations for discussion in Plenary on Wednesday. During Tuesdays discussion, participants considered whether to make recommendations specific or keep them at a more general level. Participants stressed the need to highlight governments obligation to collaborate with indigenous peoples, and highlighted the value of making specific recommendations to UNEP. Discussion centered on the need to secure the protection of all types of indigenous knowledge and resources.

The outputs of the working group were considered during discussion of the draft Manifesto, and as part of the draft WAVE recommendations and project ideas on Wednesday afternoon in Plenary.  

Recommendations: On enhancing global-local linkages, WAVE recommends the:

  • recognition of indigenous peoples rights at the local, national and global levels, and the development by UNEP, with the participation of indigenous peoples, of guidelines for indigenous peoples, including indigenous women, on environmental policy development and implementation;
  • development of concrete mechanisms to ensure the recognition and realization of the collective ownership of traditional and indigenous knowledge, innovations, practices and products, as well as natural resources, and the protection of the intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples; and
  • guaranteeing womens political empowerment and capacity building, including information dissemination among indigenous women, to enable them to participate effectively in decision-making processes related to the environment and sustainable development at all levels.

Project Ideas: In order to enhance global-local linkages, WAVE identified the following three project ideas:

  • the integration of environmental dimensions into CEDAW, taking into account the social diversity of women, as well as the conflict and post-conflict situations faced by women in developing countries, to be undertaken in collaboration with the UNEP post-conflict assessment unit;
  • the preparation by CEDAW of a recommendation on women and the environment, to guide state parties in the implementation of CEDAW; and
  • an assessment of the role of cultural diversity in allowing the sustainable use of natural resources by indigenous women.

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND GENDER: The working group on global environmental change and gender was facilitated by Njeri Wamnkonya, UNEP, and Mia Macdonald, World Watch Institute. Participants in the working group discussed: electricity use, especially in rural areas; the importance of drawing attention to private sector initiatives related to women; and the need for financial mechanisms.

Recommendations: On the issue of global environmental change and gender, WAVE recommended that:

  • UNEP and other UN agencies use the media to support the dissemination of information on climate change and energy and reflect the concerns of women;
  • UNEP facilitate North-South project partnerships for gender sensitive research on climate change and energy;
  • the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) establish an award for women working on climate change; and
  • gender-sensitive criteria be developed under the Kyoto Protocols mechanisms, the UNFCCC project evaluation process, the Prototype Carbon Fund, and other climate change financing mechanisms. 

Project Ideas: On global environmental change and gender, WAVE proposed the following three project ideas:

  • the development of a carbon-sink project between Northern and Southern womens organizations under the community carbon fund of the World Bank, to include capacity building and implementation;
  • a study conducted by UNEP, in cooperation with the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, on the gender-differentiated impacts of and vulnerabilities to global climate change and related global environmental trends; and
  • a fund for sustainable transport, drawing on innovative financial mechanisms.

URBAN CHALLENGES, ENVIRONMENT AND GENDER: The working group session on urban challenges, environment and gender was facilitated by Sandra Bos, UNEP, and Angela Hakizimana, UN-HABITAT. On Monday, WAVE participants noted the need for a balance between private and public interests. Participants highlighted the rising costs of basic needs, especially in transition countries, and recognized that women carry the burden of work, with particular reference to small-scale agriculture.

Recommendations: On urban challenges, environment and gender, WAVE recommended that UNEP:

  • and UN-HABITAT, together with other UN agencies, cooperate to provide capacity building for local authorities and communities, especially womens organizations, in the field of IWRM, waste, sanitation, housing and household energy utilization;
  • generate and disseminate information and gender-disaggregated data on chemicals and pollutants, specifically those found in urban areas;
  • conduct gender-equality analyses on ecosystems and incorporate this information into urban management by involving women in the management of common property resources; and
  • allocate funds for poor urban womens groups to implement projects on water, sanitation, and ecosystem management, as well as poverty alleviation, in particular for projects relating to the Water for African Cities, Water for Asian Cities, and Sanitation Trust Fund. 

Project Ideas: On urban challenges, environment and gender, WAVE identified the following two project ideas, both to be coordinated by UNEP in cooperation with UN-HABITATs urban governance campaign:

  • an awareness raising campaign on solid and liquid wastes, involving collaboration between womens organizations and local authorities; and
  • a sustainable solid waste disposal system to be developed in four pilot cities, designed and implemented by womens groups.

IMPLEMENTATION OF WSSD COMMITMENTS AND MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL ACCORDS AND THEIR REGIMES: On Monday and Tuesday, WAVE participants met to discuss project ideas and recommendations on this issue. The group was facilitated by Monique Essed, Suriname, and Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, Centre for International and Development Law.

Recommendations: On the implementation of existing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), WAVE recommended that:

  • the CSD take into account the concerns of women in all its activities and mainstream women in all CSD processes and other fora dealing with sustainable development;
  • UNEP promote gender equality in all MEAs, evaluate the participation of women in conferences of the parties, and disseminate best practice;
  • CEDAW identify linkages between CEDAW and other human rights and social instruments, and between gender and environment;
  • UNEP support and realize the human right to water, with the mainstreaming of gender equality in all water and sanitation projects and the renewal of efforts to ensure adequate and safe public sanitation for women and girls; and
  • environmental ministries establish partnerships with major groups, and develop concrete mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of international and national environmental laws.

Project Ideas: On the implementation of MEAs, WAVE proposed the following three project ideas:

  • capacity building for the strategic assessment of the gender impacts of existing MEAs and other social and economic instruments;
  • the development of gender-sensitive reports on environmental issues of importance to women, in particular public-private partnerships related to water; and
  • support for the generation and popularization of a new book on sustainable development, gender and international law, to be published jointly by research institutes and women experts. 

BEIJING+10, CEDAW AND MDGs: This working group session was facilitated by June Zeitlin, WEDO, and Daphne Roxas, Bejing Score Board, the Philippines. On Monday, participants in the working group highlighted the need to educate for a non-violent culture and the need for case studies on women, peace and environment, drawing particular attention to IDPs in such case studies.

Recommendations: WAVE recommendations on this issue state that UNEP:

  • should link with other UN agencies focusing on MDG 7 on environmental sustainability, and ensure the use of gender disaggregated data in country reporting on achieving poor womens access to water and sanitation; 
  • urge governments to implement all international agreements in the field of sustainable development, in order to halt environmental degradation and ensure environmental health;
  • urge governments, in collaboration with civil society organizations and womens groups, to develop gender sensitive sustainable development indicators that go beyond those contained in the MDGs; and
  • collaborate with the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization to promote a culture of peace and non-violence, and raise awareness on best practice to convert military expenditures to sustainable development expenditures. 

Project Ideas: WAVE proposed the following three project ideas:  

  • presentation of the WAVE outcomes at Beijing+10, and the organization by UNEP of high-level meetings at Beijing+10, CSD-13 and the Millennium Summit+5 to discuss the state of women and the environment 10 years after the adoption of the PFA;
  • development of case studies on women, conflicts and the environment in conjunction with womens groups at all levels; and
  • training by UNEP of all members of the Human Rights Commission, CEDAW, and other treaty bodies to promote womens rights in relation to the environment.     


On Tuesday, Mabudhafhasi provided a general overview of the Network on Women Ministers for the Environments informal recommendations, the general ideas of which would be incorporated into the draft WAVE Manifesto. She noted that political policies should be prioritized, reinforced and implemented. Mabudhafhasi said the Network must be made permanent and fora such as WAVE should continue. Referring to the draft recommendations, which will be presented to CSW-49, Mabudhafhasi said the Network emphasized issues such as gender equality and the need for an assessment of environmental policies and women. She noted that much of the programmatic work relating to the draft recommendations could be implemented through the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD).

Jocelyn Dow, Red Thread Womens Development, Guyana, hoped that women would have a chance to respond to the draft recommendations at UNEP GC 23/GMEF. She noted that based on informal discussions with ministers on the recommendations, she encouraged UNEP to become a partner in negotiating and facilitating a gender component into international conventions. She highlighted WSSD as an entry point to womens participation in resource management. Dow noted that resources must be found, possibly in the form of a bank for womens programmes.

Batilawa called for womens participation in decision making. She said civil society can play a large role in enhancing government systems, and that partnerships with civil society and others can assist in the training of women. She indicated that women are innovators and experimenters who develop solutions on the ground.

In the ensuing discussion, participants proposed the establishment of a network to link women ex-ministers with current ministers at the national, regional and international level. A participant stressed the need for a greater presence of South Asian women at womens conferences. Stressing that peace is a prerequisite to environmental protection, a participant urged the prioritization of peace and demilitarization. Participants emphasized the importance of ratifying and implementing existing MEAs. Noting the inaccessibility of the political arena to women in developing countries, a participant stressed the importance of democratic participation.

Dow called for fostering both new and current leadership through education, transparency and inclusiveness. Batilawa commended the meeting for the high-level of participation of young activist women, and noted that the process reflected how to manage multi-stakeholder partnerships. Noting the importance of awareness raising among male ministers, Sommestad stressed the need for outreach. Olivier Deleuze, UNEP, thanked the ministers for their participation and enthusiasm, and expressed the hope that such open discussions with civil society would be adopted by other ministers.


In a brief plenary session on Monday, Zeitlin presented a draft manifesto, which had been drafted in advance by WEDO, and noted that the draft document was intended as a thought starter. Participants used this draft document as the basis for discussion in working group sessions and a small drafting group.

On Wednesday, Cordoner Segger noted that the aim of the session was to go through each of three output documents in a transparent way and to receive feedback from participants. Irene Dankelman, the Netherlands, conducted a paragraph-by-paragraph reading of the draft Manifesto, allowing participants to comment on each paragraph. Where conflicting proposals were made on one paragraph, participants determined which proposal to select by majority voting. In the section on commitments, participants accepted a proposed amendment on womens responsibility to holding producers accountable to their obligation to promote sustainable production. On the section listing participants concerns, participants agreed to include text on: women as defenders of human rights; womens access to energy; economic sanctions; and aggression against women. They also agreed to strengthen language to reflect participants outrage at a number of concerns listed in the Manifesto. During discussion of the section urging action by UNEP and other organizations, participants agreed to: replace text on gender mainstreaming with equality and womens empowerment, perspectives and approaches. On this section, participants also agreed on text proposals on: incorporating gender into budgeting; playing a visible role in Beijing+10; developing a methodology for recognizing and valuing poor womens knowledge; engaging with men and women as agents of change; promoting public awareness; and on disaster prevention and preparedness under the Barbados Programme of Action. Stating that she would revise the draft manifesto and incorporate proposals that had been agreed upon in Plenary, Dankelman requested that participants provide her with exact text.

In the chapeau of the draft manifesto, WAVE participants take note of Beijing+10 as well as the five-year review of the MDGs and opportunities presented by the NEPAD process and other regional development frameworks. The WAVE Manifesto recognizes that globalization, militarization, fundamentalisms, and the market-driven economic model have undermined the achievement of internationally agreed goals, and calls for urgent action from all stakeholders, especially the UN, to achieve sustainable development sensitive to human rights and gender equality. In the following five paragraphs, WAVE participants express commitment to: continuing the struggle for a healthy planet; contributing to gender equality and the advancement of the rights of indigenous women; enhancing connections between peace, poverty eradication, womens rights and the environment; acting as critical consumers and holding producers accountable; and implementing existing and new legislation.

The Manifesto then lists a number of issues about which WAVE participants expressed their deep concern, including: the effects of environmental degradation on communities, particularly indigenous women; the lack of implementation of existing environmental and social commitments; the widening gap between rich and poor; unsustainable production and consumption; the culture of fear; the low status and repression of women; the widespread violation of womens rights and access to resources; the lack of gender equality, gender-disaggregated data, and womens participation in decision making; the negative impacts of globalization and privatization; the erosion of cultural diversity; the appropriation of indigenous knowledge; and the denial of indigenous peoples rights, particularly those of indigenous women. 

The Manifesto then urges UNEP and other organizations to:

  • integrate and promote gender throughout their organizations;
  • incorporate issues linking cultural diversity, the environment and sustainable development in their mandates;
  • develop indigenous womens concerns;
  • implement existing UNEP GC decisions on gender, and evaluate and report on progress;
  • contribute to Beijing+10, the review of the MDGs and the gender sensitive implementation of the JPOI and MEAs;
  • endorse the PFA, CEDAW, and other relevant instruments, and work toward their implementation in cooperation with other UN agencies, governments and civil society;
  • value poor womens knowledge and experiences and promote partnerships;
  • accord women a prominent position in UNEP, and host a biannual WAVE assembly;
  • take action to implement the recommendations emerging from WAVE and carry out the action plan; and
  • build on the 10-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

The Manifesto concludes by calling for action and strong alliances across the world, and highlights the role of women as agents of change, capable of sustaining the environment.


On Wednesday morning, WAVE participants took part in three excursions: a sports association, library and school in the Mathare slum area of Nairobi, Kenya; the Simoo Simba Maasai Outreach Community in Ngong Hills; and the Green Belt Movement (GBM) in Muranga.

MATHARE SLUM AREA: This excursion took WAVE participants to visit Mathare, one of the biggest slums in Africa. Participants first visited the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), which was founded in 1987 to promote grassroots sport and raise environmental awareness. The organization uses sports as a catalyst to reduce poverty and encourage community members to become agents in improving their environment. MYSA gives slum children the opportunity to engage in sport and develop team spirit, and encourages them to transfer these lessons to development and act as role models in the community. The activities in which MYSA engages include: sports programmes; HIV/AIDS awareness raising; anti-child labor; promoting leadership; support for jailed slum children; the provision of library facilities; and international exchanges. WAVE participants then visited a library established by MYSA in Mathare, where children are able to read, learn, rest and play. MYSA members then guided WAVE participants through Mathare to visit a local school, where WAVE participants presented the schools headmistress with textbooks for the children. 

NGONG HILLS: Over 30 WAVE participants traveled to Ngong Hills to observe the Simoo Simba Maasai Outreach Community. Participants listened to how the womens cooperative, Namayana, earns income from beaded art and jewelry while the participants also attend to household duties. Maasai women and WAVE participants planted trees in the womens cooperative to provide shade while women work and to establish an area suitable for growing vegetables. After observing traditional Maasai dance and a reconstruction of a traditional wedding ceremony, WAVE participants heard about how women from the cooperative have increased girls access to education, including through buying books using income from selling beadwork. WAVE participants traveled to Olosho-Oibor to hear about an indigenous villages history, and learn about their access to and conservation of natural resources.

GREEN BELT MOVEMENT IN MURANGA: WAVE participants also visited the Green Belt Movement (GBM), an initiative started by Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate. WAVE participants heard about the initiatives impact on poverty alleviation through the empowerment of rural women to protect their natural environment, especially through the planting of trees.  In addition to observing the landscape transformation assisted by GBM-assisted womens groups, excursion participants gained an understanding of the GBMs income generating activities.


On Wednesday evening, 13 October, participants met in the closing plenary. Martha Karua, Kenyas Minister of Water, said economic and social development is heavily dependent on natural resources and water resources management is dependent on the conservation of water catchment areas. Noting that water resources are threatened by poor governance, she indicated that IWRM strategies can benefit both democracy and the environment. She indicated that the WAVE deliberations will help promote good governance.

Beth Mugo, Kenyas Assistant Minister of Education, expressed her belief that women will save the African region as well as the world. Suggesting that women pass on their WAVE experience to others, she indicated that women must protect the environment for present and future generations of children.

Tpfer noted that women need to be more involved in the planning of housing and cities. Drawing particular attention to the rule of law, Tpfer noted the need to address property rights in order to achieve the MDGs. He indicated that action must be taken to provide information on pollution. Tpfer noted the need to further implement CEDAW, on its 25th anniversary. He said that much can be learned from developing countries, especially those in Africa, where the quality of life depends on community stability, and stressed that women must be listened to. 

Noting that he had learned much from the process, Bakary Kante, UNEP, expressed gratitude to WAVE participants for their articulation in addressing all issues and producing a concrete package of ideas. He stated that UNEP will work toward the realization of the proposed actions, establishing an information clearing house for women, and identify possible sources of funding. He urged participants to keep alive the flame of cooperation.

Maria Eugene Choque, on behalf of Rigobertu Menchu, highlighted the need for environmental conservation and said women understand how to conserve the environment.

The WAVE meeting was gavelled to a close at 7:39 pm.


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GENDER AND ACTIVISM: This international conference will convene at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, from 26-27 November 2004. The meeting is organized by the Research Centre on Political Action, University of Lausanne (CRAPUL) and the Cross-University Centre on Gender Studies, University of Lausanne (LIEGE). The aim of the meeting is to explore the linkages between gender and activism. For more information contact: Olivier Fillieule, Patricia Roux: tel: +41-21-692-32-24; e-mail:,; Internet:

UNECE REGIONAL MEETING FOR THE 10-YEAR REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BEIJING PLATFORM FOR ACTION: This meeting will convene from 14-15 December 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting will draw on the past experiences of the UN Economic Commission for Europe Regional Preparatory Meetings for Beijing and Beijing+5. For more information contact: Ewa Ruminska-Zimny; tel: +41-22-917-1698; fax: +41-22-917-0036; e-mail:;

INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR THE TEN-YEAR REVIEW OF THE BARBADOS PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SIDS: The ten-year review of implementation of the BPOA is to be held in Port Louis, Mauritius from 10-14 January 2005. The international meeting will be preceded by two days of informal consultations to be held from 8-9 January. For more information contact: Diane Quarless, UNDSD, SIDS Unit; tel: +1-212-963-4135; fax: +1-917-367-3391; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRTY-SECOND SESSION OF CEDAW: The 32nd session of the Commission for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women will be held 10-28 January 2005, in New York, New York, US. The meeting, sponsored by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DESA/DAW), will examine country reports from a number of State Parties. For more information contact: Carolyn Hannan, Division for the Advancement of Women; fax: +1-(212)-963-3463; e-mail:; Internet:

CSD-13 POLICY YEAR PREPARATORY MEETING: This preparatory meeting will convene from 28 February-4 March 2005, in New York, New York, US. For more information contact: Federica Pietracci, Major Groups Programme Coordinator, UN DSD/DESA; tel: +1-212-963-2803; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Internet: 

UNEP GC 23/GMEF: The 23rd session of the UNEP GC/GMEF will convene from 21-25 February 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information contact: Beverly Miller, Secretary for UNEP GC; tel: +254-2-623431; fax: +254-2-623929; e-mail:; Internet: 

49TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN: CSW-49 will convene from 28 February-11 March 2005, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Delegates will focus on two thematic issues: the review of the implementation of the PFA and the outcome of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session, entitled Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the 21st century; and current challenges and strategies for the advancement and empowerment of women and girls. For more information contact: Carolyn Hannan, DESA/Division for the Advancement of Women; fax: +1-(212)-963-3463; e-mail:; Internet:

13th SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: CSD-13 will convene from 11-22 April 2005, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. CSD-13 represents the policy year of the current two-year cycle of work, with delegates expected to decide on measures to speed up implementation and mobilize action to implement the internationally agreed goals for the thematic cluster: water, sanitation and human settlements. For more information contact: Federica Pietracci, Major Groups Programme Coordinator, DSD/DESA; tel: +1-212-963-2803; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Internet:

9TH INTERDISCIPLINARY CONGRESS ON WOMEN: This meeting will be held from 19-24 June 2005, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The Congress theme is: Embracing the Earth: East-West/ North-South. For more information contact: Chang Pilwha, convener and Chairperson; tel: +82-2-3277-3775; fax: +82-2-3277-2577; e-mail:; Internet:

IWPR'S EIGHTH INTERNATIONAL WOMENS POLICY RESEARCH CONFERENCE: This conference, to be held from 19-21 June 2005, in Washington, DC, US, will address a range of issues related to women and girls economic, political, health and social status. International stakeholders are expected to strategize on policy approaches. For more information contact: Elizabeth Mandeville; tel: +1-202-785-5100; fax: +1-202-833-4362; e-mail:; Internet:   

Further information