Gender and environment must be mainstreamed into post-2015 agenda
Women have been urged to champion for friendly environment since they are more likely to suffer from harsh conditions.
Many women in developing countries use firewood and this leads to inhalation of carbon monoxide in the form of smoke that affects them directly before polluting the environment.
However, the negative effects of the damage on the environment also has a negative effect on humanity. This is why when one is exposed to carbon monoxide by breathing in smoke from cigarettes, a fire, or by coming into contact with methylene chloride found in paint removers or other solvents, their vital organs such as lungs and kidneys are also affected.
Carbon monoxide can enter the body through the skin or by breathing it in through the lungs. Smoking cigarettes is the most common way to be exposed to carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide gas has no color, smell or taste. However, small amounts of carbon monoxide are normally found in our bodies and in the air we breathe. Large amounts of carbon monoxide gas can be released from motor vehicles or defective heaters, furnaces or other fuel burning appliances.
Carbon monoxide poisoning takes place when too much of the gas gets into the body. When this happens, the blood carries less oxygen to the vital organs which then causes them to become damaged.
The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. More severe symptoms are confusion, stumbling or falling, chest pain, sleepiness and loss of consciousness. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause death.
When a woman is pregnant, carbon monoxide can penetrate the baby’s blood system through the placenta.
Once it does get into the baby’s blood system, it takes much longer for the baby to clear the carbon monoxide than it would in an adult.
Carbon monoxide poisoning has not been shown to increase the risk of physical or structural birth defects over the background risk. There are reports of carbon monoxide poisoning in pregnant women causing foetal death or damage to the developing baby’s brain.
This is thought to be from the large amounts of carbon monoxide in the mother’s blood. This causes the baby to receive less oxygen. A small study has shown that foetal death and brain damage only happen when carbon monoxide levels in the mother are high enough to make her lose consciousness.
These thoughts were shared during the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the highest-level UN body ever convened on the environment in Nairobi. Speaking at the conference, Racheal Ruto, wife of Deputy President William Ruto urged women to steer their efforts towards Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda including sustainable consumption and production.
Ruto said gender and environment needs to be mainstreamed in the post-2015 development agenda to enable women’s voices to be heard at national and international levels. She said it is only then that women’s businesses and activities would be considered a priority by governments.
“In Kenya, we have taken the issue of gender and environment as key issue for sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda,” Ruto said. She added: We have realised that it is the only way out for women and men to work together towards sustainable consumption and production for their countries.”
She disclosed that she has already toured 31 out of the 47 counties in Kenya to promote environmental conversation among women as a business venture for their sustainability.
The United Nations Environment Assembly is a new body that presents a ground-breaking platform for leadership on global environmental policy.
In attendance were over 1200 participants, 170 national delegates, 112 ministers and at least 40 different events. The meeting took place during the five-day event from June 23 to 27 2014 at UNEP’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “A Life of Dignity for All”.
Major issues on the agenda included illegal trade in wildlife; environmental rule of law; financing the Green Economy as well as the Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda, including sustainable consumption and production.
Sanjaasuren Oyun, Minister for Environment and Green Development in Mongolia, was elected President of the first session of United Nations Environment Assembly.
“I stand ready to devote my efforts to ensure that we have an effective and productive session here in Nairobi,” said Oyun.
She noted that the next two years will be critical in achieving progress in sustainable development, climate change and other key issues.
“With our ever-increasing demand for water and resources, we will need another five planets,” reiterated Oyun.
Judy Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Water and Natural Resources of Kenya said her ministry is focusing on climate change to address emerging issues.
She promised to fulfil the dreams of the late Prof Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Laureate who also championed environmental conservation.
Wakhungu agreed with the late Prof Maathai’s statement that, “if you destroy nature, nature will destroy you”, and hence her promise to champion the dream.
“The solutions we seek come from every corner will require participation of all states and partners,” said Wakhungu. She added: “It is only together, as an international community that we can deal with the world’s ever-increasing environmental challenges.”
Sahle-Work Zewde, Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, said: “This first-ever United Nations Environment Assembly marks an important step towards the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and Rio+20.”
Briefly reviewing the history of the United Nations in Kenya, Zewde added: “UNEP remains the pioneer, indeed the heart and soul, of the UN presence here in Kenya.”
All 193 UN member states along with major stakeholders were represented at UNEA.
Zewde said since UNEP’s inception in 1972, the environment has moved from the margins to the centre of the world’s sustainable development agenda.
“This reality was reaffirmed by world leaders at Rio+20 in June 2012, 20 years after the ground-breaking 1992 Earth summit,” Zewde recalled.
She added it took place when women supported the strengthening and upgrading of UNEP, translating into universal membership for its new governing body, United Nations Environment Assembly; increased resources; and improved mechanisms to engage civil society and other stakeholders.
“This first session of United Nations Environment Assembly will determine its relevance in the international setting and will define UNEP’s ability to address the greatest environmental challenges which face us today, and in the future,” Zewde noted.