TEXT BY ALEJANDRA DUARTE, FORMER INTERN AT WOMEN4BIODIVERSITY POLICY TEAM
Last year I had the opportunity to work as an intern at Women4Biodiversity. In preparation for and during the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15), I worked in the policy team supporting the activities of the UNCBD Women’s Caucus and Women4Biodiversity (W4B). This experience contributed to my professional development by strengthening my knowledge on the contributions of women and girls in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, on women’s access to finance and on the aspects that need to be worked on to effectively implement the Global Biodiversity Framework Post 2020 at the local level.
The internship lasted six months, starting on the first of July and ending on the last day of December. The first months were conducted virtually, supporting the webinars that were held in preparation for attending CBD COP 15 and other workshops, in addition to attending the bi-weekly meetings held at W4B, where updates of the work were noted.
In November, work began on the planning, organization and coordination of the Gender Day event, the first CBD COP event and day dedicated to gender. In terms of planning, it was necessary to prepare the concept note for the event, define the topics to be addressed, the agenda, among other things. It was also necessary to coordinate with the different actors, especially with the catering, the CBD Secretariat and the speakers of the event. During all these activities I received the support and guidance of W4B Director Mrinalini Rai and Programme Officer Shruti Ajit. This month also saw the analysis and review of the technical documents of the Cartagena Protocol and the elaboration of the recommendations, with the continuous support of the co-coordinator (now global coordinator) of the UNCBD Women’s Caucus, Amelia Arreguin.
During CBD COP 15 I carried out several policy-related activities. I attended the daily coordination meetings of the UNCBD Women’s Caucus, where we discussed the work and negotiation updates for each day. There were many simultaneous political negotiations and events that it was impossible to attend all of them, so these meetings were extremely important to have coordinated work among the Women’s Caucus.
As part of my activities, I attended Working Group 2, and followed up on these negotiations, especially the Cartagena Protocol. I also went to some Contact Groups. The advantage of this COP is the hybrid format of the negotiations, which allowed attending in-person or online, although it is always recommendable to attend in person. For the closing plenary, I supported the drafting of the UNCBD Women’s Caucus final statement, and I had the great opportunity to read it on behalf of all the women.
I also attended events organized by W4B, and learned about the work of different women around the world who defend their rights, empower themselves and work to overcome the social injustices that violate their way of life and their right to live in harmony with the environment.
Meanwhile, the Gender Day event was held for two days: on the first day (10 December) I was part of technical support, and on the second day (12 December) I was the moderator. It was a successful event, which addressed the following topics: gender-responsive resource mobilization; gender-responsive indicators and its implication on National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and findings from the 6th National Reports of the Parties to the CBD. There was also a panel on youth, gender and biodiversity.
To sum up, this internship has been one of my best professional experiences. I have had the opportunity to develop my skills in event coordination and organization, language interpretation, research, writing, as well as working in a virtual and hybrid environment with people from different regions of the world. I developed my soft skills through this internship. This internship has also allowed me to expand my network of contacts in the field of biodiversity and gender, which is where I want to develop professionally. W4B is an organization that advocates for women’s empowerment, where women from different parts of the world work together. It is an important environment to see different realities, and I felt identified fighting for the same ideals.