Will COP25 Build The Momentum For Increased Climate Action?

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What Is COP25?

COP25 is the 25th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC, an international environment treaty, was adopted on May 09, 1992, at the Earth Summit at Rio, Brazil. The first such conference, i.e., COP1, was hosted at Berlin, Germany in 1995.

About 197 countries, party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will participate in COP25 in Madrid, from December 2-13.

‘Parties’ is the term used to refer to the signatories (countries) of the UNFCCC. For almost three decades, the signatories have met every year to forge a global response to the climate emergency. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, every nation on earth is treaty-bound to “avoid dangerous climate change”, and find pathways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

This year Costa Rica wanted to host the event, but due to the lack of resources, Chile pitched in, and everything was set for the COP in Santiago. But rioting in the city and national political crisis forced the COP to be moved. The Spanish government then stepped up, and Madrid was finalized as the venue for the COP25.

Who Will Attend And What’s Special About COP25?

The negotiations, led by the environment ministers, UN officials and civil servants will go until 13th December. Almost every country will send their representative of a senior rank. More significant economies are expected to have a large delegation. Top world leaders may not show up for the event, but many of the celebrities and VIPs will mark their presence. Representatives from NGOs, Policy, and advocacy and research groups, climate activists and environmentalists will also be an integral part of the event. Journalist and media groups will extensively follow the event.

There is widespread understanding as well as profound demand that we need to do more to reduce emissions and build resilience.

The most important thing about the COPs is that they are the only forum on the climate crisis where the opinions and concerns of the low-income countries carry equal weight to that of the big economies, such as the U.S., China and India. Each of the 197 nations on earth, except a few failed states, is a signatory to the UNFCCC foundation treaty and no country has yet opted to withdraw from it. That includes the U.S., which is in the process of withdrawing from the Paris accord.

This COP will be seen as a stepping stone to the official start date for the Paris Agreement. It is a vital step to help countries implement the Paris Agreement when it begins next year. The COP will also set the momentum for increased climate action. There is widespread understanding as well as profound demand that we need to do more to reduce emissions and build resilience. Still, nations have yet to formalize this understanding into their new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The deadline for countries to submit new and more ambitious NDCs is next year.

Revisiting Paris Agreement

In December 2015, 192 countries committed to a climate change agreement that is dynamic, durable and applicable to all countries. Since then, 181 countries have ratified the agreement. The United States, however in 2017 expressed its intention to withdraw from the agreement after a three-year notice period.

The very soul of the Paris Agreement is the commitment by countries to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), setting out their national targets for reducing greenhouse gases, and in some cases, plans for adapting to the impacts of climate change and providing finance and other support to developing countries. These pledges are the foundation of the agreement. They are to be resubmitted to the United Nations every five years, and each must be more ambitious than the last. Though the deal is legally binding, the commitments that countries have made to cut their emissions are not.

India’s Negotiating Stand

India has emphasized that developed countries should take the lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilizing $100 billion per annum by 2020. It will also stress upon the need for the develope countries to meet their pre-2020 commitments and ensure that pre-2020 implementation gaps do not present an additional burden on the developing countries in the post-2020 period.

India’s negotiating stand is in line with its statements at the 24th COP in Katowice, Poland, last year, where India called for clarity on climate finance and said that, until 2017, only 12% of the total pledges to multilateral climate funds have actually led to disbursements.

India’s approach will be guided mainly by the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBDR-RC). Overall, India looks forward to engaging in negotiations with a constructive and positive outlook and work towards protecting its long-term development interests.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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