As we observe the United Nations World Environment Day 2019 it is important to be aware of the challenges faced by women who suffer disproportionately from social and environmental effects of extraction but who are often excluded from decision-making. It is therefore necessary to approach “a world where all citizens benefit from their natural resources” with a mission to build a national, regional, and global movement of civil society organisations making oil, gas, water and mineral governance open and accountable, sustainable, equitable and responsive to all people. And why? Because we as citizens have a right to participate in the governance of our country’s natural resources. As citizens we need to have the necessary information to champion and defend our right to participate for the benefit of current and future generations.
This is of extreme importance not only to us as women in Trinidad and Tobago but to the region as a whole. Legal and illegal mining impact on our livelihood, water, food crops, land, forest and fisheries through landslides, flooding and coastal erosion. All of these are made worse by the effects of climate change which is fuelling environmental degradation, desertification, destructive hurricanes and other natural disasters which are pauperising entire communities and countries resulting in large scale migration and displacement. These, in turn, put pressure on the natural resource base of the countries to which they migrate resulting in a vicious cycle that we must find the will to break if human civilisation is to save itself.
Therefore, we must follow the advice by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to world leaders preparing for the September climate action summit: “Don’t come with a speech; come with a plan.”
To tackle climate change and counter its impact on the environment, we need more than talk; we need an effective plan. There ae no boundaries in the environment. Young and old, rich or poor, men and women, boys and girls, we all live at the same address: Planet Earth. Let us act now.