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Invest in resilience and women for development

We cannot count on governments alone to solve the world’s problems and meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

The “we” refers to all partners needed for strengthening resilience and development, namely civil society organisations, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the UN, the private sector, local communities and governments. We all must work closely as a team and make sure that resources reach the most vulnerable. Our innovative partnership with the global business community and the World Economic Forum —through the Friends of Rio call to action — is an example of converting this rhetoric into action. We urge governments to provide an enabling environment for this and the many other sustainable development initiatives.

Sustainable development will not be shaped by a document that comes out of Rio +20 but determined by how well we mobilise the power of humanity for action. The message and the needs are clear — vulnerable and marginalised populations need our support.

The best support we can give is to work closely with people and their communities, often through Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, who have the knowledge and initiative to drive long-term solutions that promote resilience and in turn, sustain development.

In fact, one theme that emerged again and again at the Rio+20 Conference events and discussions was recognising women as key stakeholders in development approaches.

Take the pressing issue of food security for example: in some countries 60% of the agricultural labour force is made up of women. As fathers, brothers and sons leave rural areas to seek work and secure income, the focus on women and support for smallholder farmers has become urgent. Breaking the chronic cycle of food insecurity requires policies and laws that protect women’s rights and also to facilitate access to farmland, favourable small-business loans and — crucially — to education and equipment.

Creating the space for women to play a greater role in their environment builds resilience. Building resilience creates strong communities; strong communities create strong economies and ultimately sustain development.

Bottom line, building resilience is key to protecting long-term development gains.

As part of our investment to build resilience, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is committed to allocating up to 10% of appeals for disaster risk reduction. We are now calling on others — many of whom have been talking these past eight days about sustainability — to also commit more funding towards long-term efforts to build resilience.

Cutting through the clutter of tens of thousands of people, dozens of important issues and the debate over the outcomes of Rio+20, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has one thing to say after our time in Rio: “Governments, donors, the corporate sector and the humanitarian sector must invest more in strengthening the resilience of people and their communities most at risk to crises and disasters.”

Finally, we would like to applaud and thank the Brazilian Red Cross for their support and the Brazilian government for creating the space for an event that brought the world’s attention to sustainable development.

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