The WOMEN: A collective of leaders from across Micronesia working on climate change adaptation.

Their PROJECT: Building a network of women to create solutions to climate change adaptation

"You have a sphere of influence, whatever station you have in life. Never forget that. Women care for the land, women care for resources, women are the seeds, women are the caretakers. Woman are born to responsibility, and the Pacific is speaking to the world."

Julie Tellei. Traditional leader, Palau.

attendee-julie-tellei Photo - Joanna Benn

The setting

Micronesia is a region which includes some 2000 islands, which are grouped into several countries: the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Wake Island.

The region is rich in marine life; the National Geographic Society chose Palau as the first "Underwater Wonder of the World."

Life in Micronesia has been shaped by the islands’ remoteness and the rich resources of their lands and seas. Yet this dependence makes islanders especially vulnerable to environmental threats, such as rising sea levels, pollution, deforestation and unsustainable fishing.

Most islands in Micronesia are low lying coral atolls, vulnerable to the impacts of climate change: especially rising sea levels, more severe and frequent droughts, cyclones and other natural disasters. The scarcity of land exacerbates these problem for Micronesians.

Our work with women in Micronesia

The Nature Conservancy began working in Micronesia 25 years ago. Since then, we have expanded across the region, working with many local partners.

We work with women in Micronesia to ensure that women play a key role in how climate change is understood, and how adaptation projects are designed. For example, one local partner has discovered through surveys that, during times of drought, women face increased risk of post birth complications due to lack of adequate sanitation.

In March 2017, we brought together women from across Micronesia, from Papua New Guinea, the United States, and England for a learning exchange on gender and climate change adaptation. It was both life-affirming and alarming. Trailblazers, leaders and conveners are working to help communities adapt to the present-day realities of water insecurity, food shortage and climate-induced hardships.

In islands across the Pacific, no one has the luxury of denying the existence of climate change. People are living it. Have been living it. And they are desperately trying to adapt to it. You can read all about the women's workshop here.

The Women's Project

We are supporting women to come together, share ideas and influence policy and local actions around climate change adaptation in small and vulnerable island states. The women are keen to develop a more formal network where they can exchange ideas and gendered solutions to the most urgent issue of their time: climate change. This builds on recommendations following a women and climate change workshop in Palau in 2017.

As one participant, Kathryn Relang, explained, "We want a collective approach to issues, so we need to sit together and listen to each other. It is an opportunity to see the similarities we have and learn from our differences. When we have a common issue, it makes us stronger."