UN Environmental Assembly: First Report, WOCAN and Oxfam Italia

Yesterday, the UNEA had the great pleasure of listening to Ms. Vera P. Weill Hallé, chair at Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management (WOCAN), and Mr. Roberto Barbieri, director at OXFAM Italia, an NGO that attempts to eradicate poverty. The two guest speakers gave the MILMUN delegates two different perspectives when dealing with both the need of mobilizing finance to tackle climate change and the existing barriers to rural women’s entrepreneurship.

According to Mr. Barbieri, private sectors could have a positive impact on poverty given the relationships that food producers establish with traders, consumers and suppliers. ‘Your favourite brands care what you think’, he said. As far as consumers are concerned, they should focus on the product they offer ensuring good quality and service. Since a few companies, such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola, or Pepsico, control over 70% of the products that a regularly sold in a supermarket, Oxfam Italia decided to build a campaign to create equality for women workers, take a zero-tolerance approach to land grabs, and take real climate action.

As for the barriers to rural women’s entrepreneurship, Ms. Hallé mentioned the Women’s Corporate Standard measurable criteria to ensure a project is inspired in gender perspective and benefits. It was mentioned moreover that climate change can affect rural women most heavily since they have significantly fewer resources at their disposal. Thus, even if big companies tend to take advantage of farmers, these usually do not complain or at least accept the way they are treated, as they are still likely to make a profit. For that reason, it is quite difficult to tackle such problems for organizations like WOCAN or OXFAM Italia since in some cases farmers do not have any other alternatives, as they cannot reach the market without firms’ help.


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