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Wrap Up Of Durban Climate Talks: Roaring Lion or a Hidden Dragon? [Who Won and Who Lost]

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By Priti Rajagopalan:

It has been a little more than a month since I left Durban with some disappointment. After the festive season, I come back with a lot of hope, patience and holiday fat. Between then and now, I have read a lot of Durban analysis and what we look forward to between one D to the other D. There have been analysis of winner’s and loser’s at the COP Climate Summit. I would like to begin by nominating my own winners and losers and try and make sense of what we are going with – to the Bonn talks.

The European Union, has always been a leader in the arena. It had come with a clear mandate that it would not commit to a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol until the emerging economies agree on deciding an architecture that would include them in a binding agreement. One thing we need to remember is , most European countries had their legal domestic reduction targets. With or without being a party to the Kyoto they would reduce their emissions. In spite this knowledge, Brazil, China and South Africa agreed to discuss a new framework that would expect them to reduce emissions from 2020. But, by this strategy, EU clearly got the Alliance Of Small Island States and Least Developed Countries on their side. The vulnerable nations have often been vocal about the need for the emerging economies to act and not just voluntarily. Hence, EU and AOSIS, LDC were clear winners.

United States was trumped a couple of times during the negotiations. While people feel, it had got its way again, I beg to differ slightly in this regards. A young activist intervened Mr. Stern’s, the Special Envoy for Climate Change, speech. People applauded. The audience (non-negotiators) of the COP 17 passively showed their disdain with the United States. There was a massive protest by the environmental groups and youth groups demanding “Action Now!”. The activists, actively echoed the sentiment inside the hall to the outside world. Of course, this has been happening COP after COP. Nobody supports the United States but the action has to go beyond protests and showing non agreement. Everybody knows the US has been a traditional blocker. Give or take, US has or will never agree to do what we want from it. The only option is to not let it get what it wants us to do and that is it postpone progressive climate talks towards a deal that would keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees or less.

In its present form, the Ad Hoc Working Group- Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) document leads us to a 4-4.5 degrees Celsius rise in temperature. This could and will be catastrophic. Everybody knows it, but the EU, AOSIS, LDC, BASIC countries accept it. The United States has been pushing that the work of this working group was over and it needed to close down. The talks looked towards a complete disintegration especially during the equity-emerging commitment debate. But, it was eventually resolved and the LCA managed to live for another year. The United States definitely lost here. Was it an EU strategy or a mere co-incidence, that is hard to tell.

The media claims, India lost the plot. India has always used its internal social status and developing card to resist being included in any kind of legal domestic cuts. This COP was no different. What happened was, India being portrayed as the bad guy — the blocker of the talks. As pressure build on, miraculously India gave in to agreeing to a decision that would launch talks on a new legal instrument with a legal force under the convention. But, the vital question was did India lose out on equity, which it called the blank cheque for 1.2 billion of its citizen? The clue maybe in the extension of AWG-LCA which continues its work and reach the agreed outcome pursuant to 1/CP.13 OR the Bali Action Plan, in whose heart lies Equity. Was India really the loser?

While we discuss, it would be interesting to see what the AWG-DPEA (Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) and AWG-LCA has in store for us at Bonn. Will Equity and legal reduction for all run parallel or Will Legal reduction run over Equity. All eyes are on this as the plot thickens.

Japan And Russia which had refused to be party to the second commitment period because large enough emissions weren’t being covered under it will ave to either come up with a new reason for inactivity or welcome the positive movement DPEA has made on an all-inclusive climate deal.

On 28 February, 2012 when UNFCCC holds a in-session workshop where countries can propose ways of increasing ambition and further ambition, these issues are bound to come up. And, things might be a little clearer. I hope to retain the hope and patience but not the holiday weight till now and Bonn.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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