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Programme Director’s December 2020 Message

The announcements about COP 26 are beginning to come through apace with information and announcements about the developing event.

Many of us are engaged already in activities relevant to this agenda. See our centenary pages for some relevant information about activities and ideas on how to participate in this, our centenary year.

Climate change, together with the COVID pandemic, are our main concerns at the moment. There will be a blog about health for 12 Dec on COVID and Universal Health Coverage but for my Programme Director blog I think it is fair to focus on climate change.

Sadly, we cannot register with the UNFCCC and our ECOSOC status is not acceptable for gaining observer status. However, taking part will probably be through having an exhibit and/or hosting an event. Apart from the observer status this is similar to CSW each year. So, ideas please!

I know that many soroptimists are passionate about climate change and influencing politicians, businesses and individuals to take action to address the problems caused by the rise in earth’s temperatures, acidification of land and water, the effects on agriculture and much much more.

There is a pre-COP meeting for key actors (countries) on 30 September – 2 October 2021 and on 28-30 September 2021 almost 400 young people will take part in ‘Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition’. Both are to be held in Milan.

Some businesses, organisations and individuals have become involved already but we need all of us to play our part if we are to succeed in the ambition so ably presented by Greta Thunberg last year. Can we play our part and build on her ambition? Should we continue to take long-haul flights, drive in our cars when we could take public transport, and use transport when we could walk or cycle? Some us will be able to be more active physically, others of us not so but we can all play a part. This will also vary by where we live.

Recommendations from a UK-based committee on policy levers for health and climate change suggests:

  • Support a just energy transition that minimises air pollution from all sources;
  • Design and retrofit homes to be energy efficient, climate resilient and healthy;
  • Build a sustainable, resilient and healthy food system.;
  • Develop a transport system that promotes active travel and road safety, and which minimises pollution;
  • Develop healthy and sustainable models of work.

These are relevant more widely than just the UK.

As well as working collaboratively across SIGBI we can form partnerships with others with similar interests but we can also act at the individual level. Individual actions could include the proposals from the UN’s ACTNOW campaign:

“We can all live sustainably and help build a better world for everyone. But this means taking a look at how we live and understanding how our lifestyle choices impact the world around us. We make hundreds of thousands of decisions during the course of our lives. The choices we make and the lifestyles we live have a profound impact on our planet.”




Suggestions include:

  1. 5-minute showers;
  2. Bring own bag – many cloth bags have been handed out at conferences;
  3. Drive less;
  4. Put lights off when not needed;
  5. Bye local produce;
  6. Refill, Reuse and Recycle;
  7. Unplug kit not needed – e.g. do not leave TVs/PCs plugged in/on standby when not in use;
  8. Zero waste fashion.

There is an App to download to make this easier – AWorld – available from your app store.

I can do no more than point you towards the evidence and encourage you tiotake appropriate action:

Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


How can we Build Back Better?

As countries move toward rebuilding their economies after COVID-19, recovery plans can shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, safe and more resilient. The current crisis is an opportunity for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.

The UN Secretary-General has proposed six climate-positive actions for governments to take once they go about building back their economies and societies:

  1. Green transition: Investments must accelerate the decarbonization of all aspects of our economy;
  2. Green jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth;
  3. Green economy: making societies and people more resilient through a transition that is fair to all and leaves no one behind;
  4. Invest in sustainable solutions: fossil fuel subsidies must end and polluters must pay for their pollution;
  5. Confront all climate risks;
  6. Cooperation – no country can succeed alone!

Kay Richmond
SIGBI Director of Programme