FAS Participates in 2007 European Union Development Days Panel on Poverty, Human Settlements and Migration

Lisbon, Portugal

7-9 November 2007

Bineta Diop, Executive Director of Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), Anupa Varghese, FAS Fundraising and Partnerships Officer, and Beatrice Fantoni, FAS Information and Communication Officer, attended the 2007 European Development Days from 7-9 November in Lisbon, Portugal.

The theme of the 2007 Development Days was climate change, and the three-day event featured panel discussions, presentations and keynote addresses on topics such as Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change, the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and Carbon Against Poverty.

Mme Diop was invited to participate as a discussant on the panel ‘Poverty, Human Settlements and Migration’. She drew on her personal and professional experience to describe the effects of climate change on women and their development in Africa. In particular, her remarks highlighted the link between climate change and conflict, and the effects of these conflicts on women. For example, Mme Diop cited the ongoing desertification of the lands surrouding the refugee camps in Darfur and eastern Chad. On her recent mission to eastern Chad, Mme DIop spoke to refugee and displaced women who, because of water and firewood scarcity caused by desertification, had to leave the camps to collect water and wood. When they left the camps they were immediately at risk of attacks by militia men. Climate change can aggravate a conflict situation and have profound negative impact on women, who are typically responsible for the environment.

The discussion, hosted by CNN Inside Africa host Femi Oke, was very lively and interactive. Along with Mme Diop, other panel discussants included Mozaharul Alam, Research Fellow at the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies; Ndioro N’Diaye, Deputy Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM); Urmas Paet, Foreign Minister of Estonia; Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settelements Programme (UN-HABITAT); and Mathis Wackernagel, co-creator of Ecological Footprint.

European Development Days Panelists 
Panelists in discussion. From left to right: Mozaharul Alam, Anna Tibaijuka, Mathis Wackernagel, Ndioro N'Diaye, and Bineta Diop. 

Mme Diop made one suggestion on how to reward and punish those on the right and wrong sides of carbon emissions and environmental degradation: “We need to look at who the good and bad guys are. Who is going to point fingers? Rather than denounce those who don’t do the right things, maybe we can award those who do. And give red cards to those who do nothing.”

Bineta Diop European Development Days Panel 
Bineta Diop (far right) humorously suggests red cards as a deterrent to increased carbon emissions

During the three-day summit the FAS staff also met with several EU Ministers and many EU member state agencies for international cooperation. FAS presented its 2007 African Gender Award and Forum to the Instituto Português de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento (IPAD) of Portugal and Cooperazione Italiana allo Sviluppo of Italy. 

Mme Diop also made a very widely supported intervention during the open session on the Joint EU-Africa Strategy hosted by the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament. She raised the issue of including women in the development process, especially in post-conflict reconstruction – a reality for many African countries. Her comment received extensive applause from the audience and sparked a lively discussion among several women members of the European Parliament.

FAS will be closely following the EU-Africa Strategy, paying special attention to the opportunities for civil society to become involved in the initiative.