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Programme Director’s December 2021 Message

Climate Action – what now?

Reflections on FPAC and conference

Well, climate change is definately flavour of the month! We have had a ‘tour de force’, starting with the FPAC, then conference topped off with attendance at COP26 (in the Green Zone). But what now?

Avani set us an excellent example starting with the damage we are doing to the Antarctic, then how we can reduce, re-use and recycle. Reduce or eliminate our use of single use plastic, reduce our consumption of meat and fish, not giving in to fast fashion (re-use, bye second hand, share and swap) and acting as ambassadors for change at all levels.

Dr Waring explained why reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is essential and how to reduce our emissions, whilst following the example of our founders – protecting and planting trees. The science was made so easy to understand, so ‘evidence based practice’ from now on for all of us!!

I am asked regularly about why we are involved with the UN. Mary gave us a tour of the way in which our SI UN representatives work with the UN Environment Programme to bring to their attention the effects of climate change on women and their families. This illustrated how the work carried out by our UN representatives seeks to influence other UN agencies such as UN Women, the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Social Development in particular.

Dr Asha’s work in Sri Lanka with the Blue Whales and their importance to our marine environment gave us yet another perspective on the effects of climate warming. She emphasised that they feed on krill, tiny shrimp-like crustaceans living throughout the earth’s oceans.  The nutrition they gain from the seabed contains iron, nitrogen and phosphorous and as they come to the surface, they release their ‘eco poop’, known as ‘The Whale Pump’.  This fertilises the ocean for phytoplankton, microscopic marine algae, which absorb carbon dioxide and change it into oxygen. When the phytoplankton die, they take the carbon dioxide to the bottom of the ocean and this is known as ‘Carbon Sink’, which is good for Climate Change.

If you missed these sessions please go to our conference website and catch up at leisure – but don’t leave it too long! The planet needs all of us to take action now!



One of our themes at conference was migration and, of course, it affects women more than men… like so many areas of inequality. The workshop at conference on Modern Day Slavery introduced us all to aspects we might not have considered previously – such as those trafficked not wanting to be returned to conditions worse than the ones experienced through being trafficked. Read Sandra Dieffenthaller’s blog here



Taking some of that advice, Past President Ann Garvie, SIGBI President Cathy Cottridge and I went to Glasgow and COP26 to learn more about climate change, make contact with other like-minded people and hope to influence change makers. Who are they – well us and all humanity, of course. We took the video put together by our PR & Marketing Team (, two of the banners for our centenary and the post card (insert links – both now available from HQ). As well as the video running continuously on the screen in our booth it was shown on the public screens on Tuesday 9 November which was the day designated for gender issues at COP. Only two submissions were made regarding gender; one from the EU and one from Canada. Both emphasised the importance of developing gender disaggregated data – something we have been advocating for some time. The outcome document from the day (advance unedited version) can be seen on the web.[1], [2]

Another success for our team was getting an entry on the Google Arts and Culture website. Well done team! And we talked to many like-minded people working across the world. Hopefully, some of those contacts will prove helpful in getting the message “ACT NOW” across to each and everyone of us.

The photo below is of one of the displays in the Green Zone and shows the world we must save. Will you do your bit? We can all do something to help address the problem of climate warming and the inevitable damage to our home (the planet) if we do not.

Was COOP26 successful? Well, there is a range of views from OK to unacceptable. A fair summary is that from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres “It is an important step but is not enough. We must accelerate climate action to keep alive the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees”


Our Actions?

The actions we can take at individual level are, of course, in our hands – fashion and food in particular since these areas of responsibility are delegated to women so often. And that takes us back to Avani, Bonnie and Mary at FPAC and the Best Practice Awards which covered women’s leadership, helping women less advantaged than ourselves, fast fashion, addressing the stress caused by COVID and VAW through dance, and encouraging girls to engage in science.

So, onwards and upwards together to achieve equality for all through equity of action.

Kay Richmond
SIGBI Programme Director


[1] If you follow this link ( you will see CMP – about the Kyoto Protocol and CMA about the Paris Agreement. The important one now is COP26 in Glasgow.