Sustainable Development

Back to listDec 8, 2012

SGI-USA Cosponsors UN Women Special Assembly on Climate Change

SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center Panelists at the special assembly on women, climate change and human rights

On December 8, the SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center in Santa Monica, California, cosponsored the First Annual Special Assembly of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women. The theme of the assembly, "Women, Climate Change and Human Rights," brought together local NGOs, representatives from sustainability businesses, academics and artists. Over 150 people attended the event.

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the US National Committee was formed in February 2012 to support the aims of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women. In her opening speech, Cathy Hillman, the chapter's founder and president, described how underserved women suffer most from ecosystem degradation because they are often responsible for securing food, fuel, water and shelter for their families. She noted the power of grassroots efforts to raise awareness of gender inequality.

Speaking via a video link-up from the UN Climate Change negotiations in Doha, Qatar, Cate Owren, executive director of the Women's Environment & Development Organization, described climate change as the most critical human rights issue of our time and noted that women and men are impacted by climate change differently.

A panel discussion and Q&A session focused on both local and global concerns--such as the lack of infrastructure and disaster preparedness--highlighted by Hurricane Sandy that swept the Caribbean and East Coast of the US in October 2012. Panelists included Dr. Elaine Enarson, founding member of the Gender and Disaster Network and founder and cofacilitator of the US Gender and Disaster Resilience Alliance; Dr. Richard Matthew, professor of International and Environmental Politics at the University of California, Irvine; and Anna Cummins, cofounder and director of outreach at the 5 Gyres Institute which conducts research on the impact of plastic pollution on the world's oceans.

Following the panel discussion, a fashion show of costumes made from plastic found on the beach by designer Marina DeBris highlighted the effects of plastic pollution on the environment and oceans.

The SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center's efforts to raise awareness of the centrality of women to a culture of peace coincide with SGI President Ikeda's January 2012 proposal, which advocates greater consciousness at the grassroots level regarding women's potential contributions to disaster-related issues.

The SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center opened in 2005 to serve as a hub for expanding an informational network and civil education to support the UN's Culture of Peace project based on the UN International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for Children of the World (2000-2010).

[Adapted from an article in the December 21, 2012, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of SGI-USA]