Photo courtesy of Women and Climate
Photo courtesy of Women and Climate
30 November 2023

Remarks of Annemarie Hou, Executive Director of UN Office for Partnerships, for the Women and Climate Gala Dinner at COP28

Distinguished guests, friends, and colleagues,

It’s energizing to be surrounded by so many inspiring and determined women – this is exactly what our world requires to address multifaceted challenges, including the climate emergency.

Thanks to Michelle and the team for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful event.

And I appreciate Women and Climate for being an inclusive and dynamic community that welcomes all those concerned about the climate crisis and ready to be part of the solution.

Partnerships are central to ensuring that we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 13 to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Women are a powerful force and when we work together and have a seat at the table, we are unstoppable.

Women are central to achieving our global climate goals, whether as scientists, legislators, indigenous leaders, or youth activists. They are fighting to keep the 1.5°C target alive, saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

I salute the women in this room and around the world who continue to raise awareness, inspire action and advocate for their communities.

Let me now turn to some facts.

We all know that the climate crisis is not gender-neutral. It intensifies pre-existing inequalities, subjecting women and girls to distinctive threats concerning their livelihoods, health, and safety.

Science tells us that 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record. As temperatures soar, hundreds of millions more women and girls are at risk of descending into poverty and food insecurity.

Globally, by mid-century, under a worst-case climate scenario, climate change may push up to 158 million more women and girls into poverty.

Women in all their diversity must have equal leadership roles at decision-making tables where climate challenges and solutions are being discussed.

Dear friends,

As we look to the future of raising ambition and action for our planet, we must remember that we can go farther when we walk together.

Only a few weeks ago, during the UN General Assembly, my team and I decided to try something new, break outside of the bubble and bring people together who may have never crossed paths before. It was incredible to witness the power of care, connection and collaboration.

We built the SDG Pavilion on the North Lawn–a unique art installation and convening space for inspiring talks panels, and artistic performances. Our central message was: We’re at the halfway mark between the adoption and deadline of the SDGs, and even though we are way off target, every match is won in the second half.

So, how do we win for people and planet?

Not alone, but as a unified team, of powerful partners from around the world–each with unique backgrounds, professions and expertise.

Climate action is the Goal we are after today. And there cannot be climate justice without having women and girls on the team to win this Goal.

The first global stocktake of the Paris Agreement is taking place at this COP. The commitments made so far to cut emissions are nowhere near as deep as they need to be, if we’re to give the 1.5 degrees Celsius target a fighting chance.

The good news is that there is still a window to secure a livable planet, and the tools to address the climate crisis exist today. We already have the knowledge, the technology, and the financial instruments to build climate resilience and invest in a better future.

As the spotlight of the world is on Dubai: let’s use this COP to push for the urgent action we need: to drastically cut carbon pollution, protect those on the frontlines of the crisis, and strengthen international cooperation with partners like you.

Thank you.