As the first speaker, she gave a report on her grassroots organization, which specifically targets mothers, and advocates for responsible use of resources and disposal of waste, as well as calling for a return to Mongolia’s nomadic culture – one which consumes very few resources. In her view, making mothers their target group carries huge potential for expanding their impact: if women become role models of a sustainable lifestyle, this impacts future generations, as well as the male population, she argues. Her Eco Mommy movement has 4,000 members, and has reached 45,000 families so far.
Representing the German counties in the European Union, Michael Schmitz picked up the theme of the panel discussion title, ‘Climate Resilience: Potentials and Challenges in Rural Areas’, pointing out that the latter are particularly severe for rural communities. Rural areas are particularly affected by the shortage of skilled workers, but a lack of financial resources also presents a problem when promoting climate-resilient development in these areas. On the potential side, he mentioned the collaborative efforts of people living in small communities, most of whom are well-connected and highly engaged. Referring back to the previous speaker, he made a plea for promoting the engagement of women in rural areas. Schmitz also professed to be a fan of the type of pragmatism that characterizes planning and administrative structures in large parts of Asia, and appealed to German bureaucrats to learn something from it. He suggested more frameworks would be necessary to enable learning from each other.
In her speech, Dr Shritu Shrestha offered an academic perspective on the issue. In her view, climate resilience for municipalities means becoming aware of vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change and conducting a risk assessment. They would then need to formulate specific risk planning to prepare for the impacts of extreme weather events. She also advocated targeting women directly in climate projects, as they are often the ones who bear responsibility within family structures, and are also particularly vulnerable when extreme climate events occur. In her closing statement, she called for more local and international cooperation. The key, she argued, is to learn from one another, and not succumb to silo thinking. Know-how and experience from all areas of society must be brought together. Municipalities should also have a greater voice at international level.