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3 Simple Questions We Must Answer To Achieve The Goals Of The Paris Climate Agreement

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‘Talanoa’ is the Pacific concept of storytelling for the common good. The Talanoa Dialogue was launched at COP23 to create an inclusive and positive ecosystem for sharing experiences and ideas in the wake of enhancing international ambition to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The core of the Talanoa Dialogue is centred around constructive, facilitative solutions-oriented discussion avoiding confrontation and conflict between individual parties or groups of parties.

This whole dialogue revolves around three basic and structural questions:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Where do we want to go?
  3. How do we get there?

While addressing the first question, Mr Jim Skea, Vice Chair of Working Group 3 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), put forth an interesting overview that the global Greenhouse Gas Emissions/GHGEs levelled off for a couple of years after decades of growth but picked up again in 2017. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is continuing to surpass the 400ppm level. Mean global temperature rise is approaching 1°C over pre-industrial levels. He accepted that we have been falling marginally short of what we projected in terms of involving key technologies of carbon capture and storage. Furthermore, climate action at the sub-national level (e.g. by cities) is increasing and some countries have announced net zero GHG targets. Interestingly, he also talked about the 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC, to be produced in the first Global Stocktake in 2022. This report is expecting a strong mitigation and adaptation linkages which would translate the long-term temperature target in terms of short and medium-term actions. He thinks that the core narrative of this report will implicitly address the three questions of the Talanoa Dialogue.

Ms Anne Olhoff, representative of the UNEP-DTU partnership addressed the question – ‘Where do we want to go?’. She reminded that the Paris Climate Agreement and the international collective commitment to maintaining average global warming below 2°C with pre-industrial levels and complying to pursue signatories to bring down average global temperature below 1.5°C. What was significant during her full address was accepting the practical truth that even when countries strictly comply with the promises what they have made in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the global average warming shall remain around 3-3.2°C by the end of the century.

The full implication of the current NDCs is estimated to have the potential to reduce global GHGEs by 4-6 GT CO2 equivalent (eq) annually by 2030. If we want to pass on a healthy biosphere to our children and grandchildren, we need to reduce Global GHGEs by 11-13.5 GT of CO2 eq to maintain average global warming below 2°C with the pre-industrial levels. Proven low-cost green technologies having $100 per ton of CO2 eq in solar and wind energies, efficient appliances, efficient passenger cars, aforestation and strict policies to avoid deforestation, as well as actions in real estate and agriculture, have the potential to reduce sectoral emissions by around twice the amount of the emission gap projected for 2030.

Mr Anirban Ghosh, a representative of Mahindra Group, addressed the question ‘How do we get there?’. Being a techie giant from India, he talked of internal science-based targets to reduce absolute emissions, internal carbon pricing and certification schemes. His personal experiences show that nations won’t only achieve the stipulated targets but confidence has started building up to achieve additional commitments and increased targets. Government-led programmes and international partnerships can make a big difference in mobilizing action by the private sector. He disclosed that the climate-friendly business outcome would generate $400 million in revenue each year.

Business is at the centre of the Talanoa Dialogue and we can observe that corporations have a big agenda to crack these three questions. They just want to discuss how technologies can generate a huge climate-friendly business to achieve Paris target.

While addressing the three questions, none of the speakers talked of heavy degradation of vital ecosystems which can’t be handled even by advanced technological operation. We have dismantled the flow of rivers globally, we have destroyed our wetlands everywhere, our development ambitions have been continuing to eliminate forests, mountains and hills, and we have overloaded our marine ecosystem with hazardous wastes, plastic and electronic waste. Cities have turned into man-made deserts and we have crossed miles closer to certain destruction.

I understand that the Talanoa Dialogue was meant to create a positive and inclusive atmosphere for exchanging experiences and ideas but when expert officials and professionals put their stands on such significant core questions, they start to expand business and involving stakeholders and partners, leaving behind marginalized sections of the large demographic distribution dependent directly on the natural ecosystem for their lives and livelihoods. When Mr Anirban Ghosh was dealing with the question ‘Where do we want to go?’, he was simply dealing with his business plan. He has simply no idea of how the economics of ecosystem and its biodiversity work to support a huge population of the world directly or indirectly extracting ecosystem services for their livelihoods.

When Ms Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, representative of the Association for Indigenous Women & Peoples of Chad, provided views on Talanoa Dialogue from Civil Society’s standpoint, she catalyzed the entire dialogue process through her firm and optimistic views. She said, “The answer to the question where do we want to go, is simple. We need to follow the rhythm of science and alarm of people.”

Many local communities know precisely where they are going because they follow the rhythm of nature. They are used to follow (ing) rain, to follow (ing) water, to find (ing) pasture for their cows.

Ms Ibrahim was very straightforward in talking about the commitment of the Paris Climate Agreement and said it will be fulfilled only when we attain net zero emission. We need more action; we need more ambitions, right now. This is the simplest answer to the question ‘how do we get there?’ Ms Ibrahim warned that if it doesn’t happen, our people and all vulnerable communities will disappear. Parties and non-state actors must present foolproof strategies that ban the use of polluting technologies and promote cleaner ones as well as ensuring ecosystem protection with a view to end biodiversity depletion and desertification. She was quite optimistic that the Talanoa Dialogue must evolve a global agenda for people and nature. Indigenous people would like to work with all parties to develop concrete solutions for sustainable natural resources & ecosystem management at local level. She accepts that as gardeners of nature, indigenous people can help, but cannot do it alone.

This is how Talanoa Dialogue creates a tremendous impact when people from diverse areas interact under one roof in an environment of constructive, facilitative and solution-oriented discussion with a clear intent to avoid confrontation and conflict between individual parties or group of parties. There were 162 parties represented comprising 305 participants of which 207 were party and 98 non-party representatives. About 474 contributions were shared comprising 369 by parties and 105 by non-party stakeholders.

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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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