I'd like to share a proud moment. I have worked to protect our oceans for almost twenty years now - and my passion for the ocean extends far beyond that. In all these years, I have addressed the UN on several occasions on different issues affecting the ocean, from deep-sea bottom trawling to illegal fishing and the need to protect the High Seas. I have done so on behalf of well-established and well-funded NGOs.
In 2017 I set up Women4Oceans as a reaction to what I was witnessing (and experiencing) in the ocean space. W4O has been growing organically since then with some 5000 women joining the network, including hundreds of ocean professionals in our directory. I am only able to dedicate my free time to it. I have no comms, PR or fundraising support. It has been, and continues to be a long road to gain recognition for all the work that goes into it. However, as I returned from the UN Ocean Conference last week, feeling exhilarated and somewhat down at the same time, I had to pause and remind myself of my achievements.
Despite a complete lack of substantial funding, and only incidental volunteer support, I have elevated recognition for women in the ocean space by speaking on behalf of my organisation at numerous events from the World Ocean Summit, to a UN Symposium on Fish Crimes, and from the Blue Vision Summit to the Extreme Hangout at Cop26 in Glasgow. The invitations are too many to write here. I speak to reporters and institutions about the importance of diversifying the voices that go into shaping our relationship with the ocean, about the importance of lifting each other up. I speak about the various threats facing the ocean, and how critical it is to engage everyone. I speak about my campaigning efforts to win crucial gains in ocean conservation.
I felt exhilarated last week because of the energy of the conference and the momentum that is building to stop deep-sea mining from happening. At the same time I felt somewhat down. Despite delivering a powerful statement to the UN on the need to give back hope to the people by stopping a disaster from happening (deep-sea mining), I did not have a team to celebrate with, and even for a moment felt invisible to the established NGOs fighting the same fight. But as I pause to think about how far I have come with Women4Oceans, I am proud to note that Women4Oceans was one of only four NGOs allowed to speak in the Interactive Dialogue on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. For a small NGO, I think we are making big waves! I can only imagine what is possible with funding.
The point I am making to myself and to anyone reading this is: Don't give up. Sometimes all you need is your own validation to keep going!
- Farah Obaidullah
Read full statement to the UN here.
#dontgiveup #proudmoment #unoceanconference2022 #women4oceans #together4oceans #ocean
It has been a wild week at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. Specifically on deep-sea mining. Pacific Island Nations such as Palau, Fiji and Samoa have all come out in support of stopping deep-sea mining. Chile too, has called for a 15 year moratorium. And now President Macron of France joins the growing chorus rejecting deep-sea mining! Our campaign efforts seem to be coming to fruition. But we still have a long road ahead to stop this disaster from starting!
See my statement on behalf of Women4Oceans delivered just before the announcement from France.
- Farah Obaidullah
Women4Oceans #defendthedeep #UNOC22 #women4oceans #together4oceans #circulareconomy #SDG14 #ocean #hope #supportus at women4oceans.org
There are many promising initiatives driven by passionate people trying to wean us off fossil fuels, e.g. transport & energy innovation. There is growing recognition of the value of nature-based solutions to capture carbon and buffer us from the worst of climate change. There are countless initiatives to minimise waste and recover materials. There is a growing movement to address consumer behaviours and push us towards a circular economy. The vegetarian and vegan movements have taken hold in ways I could never imagine when I ditched meat in the 90s. It's all so exciting. From start-ups to corporations everywhere trying to deliver a better future for us all, I dare to hope about the transformations underway!
But the truth is we are emitting more CO2 than ever before, with trillions of dollars being invested in further O&G exploration (made worse by war). We have lost 2/3 of global wildlife, and are on course to lose much more.
Our governments seem unwilling or unable to meet this crisis with the required urgency. They can’t or won’t sever ties with the O&G lobby. All I hear is that we can’t turn off the tap overnight and that market forces will eventually allow renewables to prevail.
We have had decades to transition but are nowhere near where we need to be. Heat records are being smashed across Europe and the US, cattle dropping like flies from heat exhaustion in Pakistan. Every month of every year for many years now we have heard of ever more dangerous weather events and tipping points being crossed.
Democracy is failing us on so many levels. Where I sit, democracy seems to mean everyone can do whatever they want, and government will not intervene. This is leading to an erosion of our social fabric, our common decency as well as our individual and collective responsibilities. We are creating a world of entitled humans and businesses, and as each day passes without recourse it will be harder to reign in that entitlement and move us to a more community driven existence, in harmony with each other and nature.
Maybe 30+ years ago we could have guided market forces in the direction we need to go. But today we need bold action. Not unlike how governments (eventually) dealt with the pandemic. Whether welcomed or not, the Covid-19 measures demonstrated that it is possible for government to take swift and decisive action, even at great economic cost. Not a popular thought. But what is the alternative?
We are leaving it too late for gradual progressive change. We must shut down certain industries and lifestyle choices, even if that means some personal sacrifice. As people we fight to live another day, but as governments with a mandate for our future I expect more.
We get what we vote for.
I know it isn’t easy. There rarely is a silver bullet. But I need to see real leadership somewhere to help me fight another day for our planet and all beings that live here.
Do share stories of hopeful (government) leadership!
- Farah Obaidullah
#empower #climatecrisis #climateemergency
Sharing our newsletter here as well for those interested to know what keeps me busy (The Ocean and Us, deep-sea mining, EU4Ocean Coalition).
Spoiler alert: we have an ISBN number for the up coming book: The Ocean and Us! - Farah Obaidullah
#theoceanandus #oceanliteracy #women4oceans #together4oceans #ocean #SDG14 #MakeEUBlue
Excited to say I am about to submit the manuscript for the Ocean and Us! A book that explores all the ways our lives interact with the ocean, and which brings together the expertise of over 30 ocean specialists! Preorder at: theoceanandus.com
This video was released at the European Maritime Day - #EMD22 - as part of the #MakeEUBlue campaign.
- Farah Obaidullah
#theoceanandus #together4oceans #women4oceans #oceanliteracy
Deep-sea mining in our global commons could happen as soon as next year. We already know that if allowed to go ahead, deep-sea mining will irreversibly destroy life in the deep ocean, and risks disturbing locked away carbon. Allowing deep-sea mining to go ahead is tantamount to ecocide. Thank you KALW Bay Area Public Radio for inviting me on your show to talk about this reckless emerging industry. - Farah Obaidullah
#dontlookup #defendthedeep #oceandecade #ourocean #circulareconomy #ecocide #women4oceans #together4oceans
As temperatures soar across India and Pakistan, I am reminded of a conversation I had last night with someone who works for the oil and gas industry (and who happens to be from the Indian subcontinent). According to this man, all NGOs - he couldn’t specify which ones or from which sector, but just made a sweeping statement of all NGOs - do not use science to back up their work, and have no merit. This man went on to attack climate activists, saying their (and my) frustration is unjustified, and he used the tired old rhetoric of climate activists being hypocrites since we too heat our homes.
I was livid and didn’t know where to begin to unpack his denial and patronization of the climate crisis. At the same time I was tired. I have been fighting this fight for too long. And, in many personal settings, telling myself or being told to stay quiet, polite and ‘know my place’. I tried to explain the root of our frustration, that scientists have been calling for a transition away from fossil fuels for decades, that the fight is not against people, and certainly not vulnerable or low income people with little to no choice, rather our fight is against the systems, governments and industry that perpetuate and thereby deepen the climate crisis. Yet I was constantly triggered by the baseless claims coming from this man.
I have two degrees from one of the world’s leading science universities. I studied the first two assessment reports of the IPCC ever to be released as part of my thesis on accelerated sea-level rise. I have spent the past almost 20 years in the NGO sector campaigning for healthy oceans, working with scientists and amplifying their message, and sounding the alarm on the climate crisis. I am not alone. Millions of us around the world are tired of being systematically ignored and belittled so that a few can continue the status quo, while stealing the future of many.
I was being mansplained to by someone who has chosen to stick his head in the sand. The climate crisis is plain for all to see, and is being experienced by too many people around the world, including millions of people on the Indian subcontinent.
I am telling this story because I need to remind myself not to give up in the face of such ignorance and contempt, and just maybe if you are reading this, you need that reminder too.
#climatecrisis #climateemergency #heatwaves #climateaction #activism #collectiveaction #dontgiveup #ecoanxiety #women4oceans #together4oceans
Earth Day, each and every day!
For this Earth Day I am happy to present to you the story of one incredible woman working to protect and revive sawfish populations. Check out this short film produced by the WaterBear Network for Women4Oceans to find out how!
Never underestimate the power of communities in protecting the #ocean.
Thank you Alifa Bintha Haque for all the work you do! - Farah Obaidullah
#getinspired #earthday #giveback #women4oceans #together4oceans
With one crisis after another, it is easy to lose sight of the imminent threats we face at a global level. Time is running out to protect the High Seas (almost half our planet!) from deep-sea mining. A reckless emerging industry that we know will cause irreversible damage to ocean life, risks disturbing locked away carbon, and which will have unknown consequences to the very systems that sustain life as we know it. We must stop this industry from starting.
Here's what my colleagues and I have to say about the processes in play around deep-sea mining.
Join us! - Farah Obaidullah
#stayengaged #defendthedeep #circulareconomy #women4oceans #together4oceans #oceandecade #SDG14
It’s International Women’s Day today. This picture was taken many many moons ago (2005) and appeared on my feed as a memory.
The fight to protect our planet continues. Human dignity, well-being, peace, justice and equality are all linked to a healthy planet. The ocean makes up most of our planet (over 70%), so protecting the planet that sustains us means protecting the ocean.
If you’re feeling powerless today because of everything happening around the world: war, ongoing pandemic, climate crisis, humanitarian crises (in so many places), non-human suffering, and so on, you’re not alone. But there is always something you can do. Support an organization whose mission you support (whether on helping victims of war or safeguarding nature and the ocean), organize in your community (collect clothes, food, money, signatures for a cause you believe in), talk to people, your friends, family and strangers. Feel connected to people around you. Spend time in nature, actively keep your community clean by picking up trash, find ways to reduce your consumption that make you feel good, listen to people. By just listening, you are supporting someone. Limit your daily news intake and screen time. Spend that extra time doing any of the above.
Today, and every day, whoever you are, embrace your femininity (we all have a feminine side). Strength, resilience, compassion, nurturance and collectivism are all hallmarks of the feminine.
Stand in your power! The world needs you.
- Farah Obaidullah
#internationalwomensday #women4oceans #together4oceans #peace #nowar #bethechange #stayengaged #giveback #ocean #oneoceanoneplanet Women4Oceans
Quote: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Farah is an Ocean Advocate who lives by the sea in the Netherlands. Farah loves running, diving, talking oceans & cats