Women in Europe for a Common Future

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Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) is a non-governmental organization established in 1994 following the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to give women a stronger voice in the field of sustainable development and environment.

Aim[edit]

The aim of the organization is to balance environmental, health and economic perspectives. WECF wants a healthy environment for everyone. Today WECF is a network of more than 100 women’s and environmental organizations in 40 countries. The international network of members and partners are in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.

The main topics of WECF are: health, environment & chemicals; water & sanitation; sustainable agriculture & rural development; energy, climate change & sustainable development and gender.

WECF's vision is that by 2020 all products will be free from hazardous chemicals; everyone in the region will have access to safe, affordable and renewable energy; everyone will have access to safe, local and diverse food products and clean water and sanitation facilities. To achieve this, WECF is working in the field of poverty reduction, public participation and environmental rights and gender issues.

Organization[edit]

The organization was founded by Marie Kranendonk in 1994. Now WECF has three independent offices in the Netherlands, Germany and France. Local projects provide solutions to environmental problems in the field of chemicals, sanitation, energy and agriculture. WECF also works on national, European, UN and international political levels so that women can make their views heard and to influence political decision-making processes.

WECF has observer status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is an official partner of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). WECF is also a member of the European Environment and Health Committee (EEHC).

15 year anniversary[edit]

In 2009 WECF marked its 15-year anniversary. On this occasion, the WECF organised a conference on 10 June in the Concordia Theatre in The Hague. The main theme of the conference was Innovation for Sustainability, the crisis as opportunity.

Professor Noreena Hertz, the well-known economist and author from the University of Cambridge and a visiting professor at Erasmus University of Rotterdam, delivered the keynote speech. She presented a critical analysis of the roots of the global economic crisis, and ways out towards a sustainable economy.

The Dutch Minister of Environment, Jacqueline Cramer, outlined her vision on how innovation can create a sustainable economy. Minister Bert Koenders of Development Cooperation was invited to give his views on the theme of the day.

Andy Schroeter, director of Sunlabob, winner of the Sasakawa sustainability award (UNEP) elaborated on the topic of how even the poorest may avail solar light/heating.

WECF at the 2012 UN Rio+20 summit on sustainable development[edit]

More than 50,000 representatives of social movements and civil society organisations took to the streets in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, to demonstrate against unfair and unsustainable economic policies. At the same time, 30,000 participants of the United Nations Rio+20 conference contributed to the document "The Future We Want" [1] which has set the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015.

WECF took a leading role in the 2012 Rio+20 conference, as co-facilitator of the Women’s Major Group,[2] one of the nine groups of civil society which have a space in the UN policy process, and are allotted speaking time and contribute to the proposed negotiation text. WECF’s role was to facilitate the 300 organisations through virtual and face to face meetings, develop joint text proposals for the negotiation text, organise meetings with country negotiators, as well as organising events in which to present the priorities of women’s organisations.

For WECF and partners, the main effort in 2012 was to demonstrate local solutions for inclusive and environmentally friendly development, with full participation and leadership of women. In Uganda and South-Africa, women training and development of food gardens and organic agriculture started, as part of the Empower Women - Benefit (for) All program.Empower Women - Benefit (for) All. In Ukraine, Georgia and five other EECCA countries, Switch to Sun was launched, a program to improve and up-scale solar heaters for household and public building in rural areas where the energy services are not or little developed. In Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan WECF and partners transferred knowledge and built ecological sanitation systems for schools and households, with the addition of solar technologies to supply hot water for bathrooms, and solar food processing solutions. Through its capacity building and training programmes, WECF has been training trainers who are able to share their skills.[3] As a follow-up of those processes, many WECF members continue to build skills in the area of policy analysis and advocacy, to propose and push for better legislation and governance. A delegation of WECF members participated in the climate negotiations in Doha[4] and promoted the lessons learned from the local mitigation projects. Partners in Albania, Serbia and Macedonia organised consumer information and media events to raise awareness about product and chemical risks, and about the need for better protection of children from carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

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