A Call from the UN and Response from NGOs on Climate Change and Water Protection

The UN system did not forget to acknowledge the environment in the midst of all the activity focused on women last month. On 23 March, the President of the General Assembly held a High-level Event on Climate Change in the Sustainable Development Agenda. Several governments made statements about the effects of climate change already being experienced by their nations as well as the steps they are taking to mitigate and adapt to those effects. The event opened with a call from SG Guterres to all governments and citizens to join the global effort needed to preserve the only planet we have. Video of Guterres’ full comments is available in English, French, and Spanish.

As the SG called for commitment to sustainability from the world’s governments, NGOs were already at work responding to the earth’s cry for justice. On World Water Day (22 March), the Southeast Indigenous Peoples and Feminist Task Force issued a statement highlighting the correlation of exploitation of the world’s water resources with the exploitation of its women, particularly through government-sponsored violence against indigenous women water defenders. The statement also cited the rich tradition of indigenous women’s water protection wisdom as a resource for climate protection that is too rarely utilized by local and national initiatives on water conservation.

Two NGO Committees on which UNANIMA serves also released new resources on water and climate justice last month. The NGO Mining Working Group (MWG) published Water and Sanitation: A People’s Guide to SDG 6, which offers grassroots water defenders a rights-based legal framework on which to build their organizing efforts. This water justice guide draws on the expertise on human rights lawyers as well as UNANIMA’s 2017 Woman of Courage, Meera Karunananthan (see Update article).


The NGO Committee on Migration has also just published a brochure that provides an introduction to climate-induced displacement, the phenomenon of climate change and disaster making human habitats unlivable and forcing them to migrate for survival. In addition to describing the scope of this problem, the brochure offers practical recommendations for both governments and individuals who seek to diminish their contributions to it. UI Staff were instrumental in the creation of this resource, which will be distributed directly to every one of the twenty governments the Committee hopes to meet with in the coming month.

Both documents are currently only available in English, but the MWG and CoM hope to translate them when funds become available. Please share them widely with your networks!