Nat’s address to 100+ women at the IWECI Summit – IWECI Summit highlights

by Bronte Hogarth

Here are the highlights from Nat’s speech at the IWECI Summit

100+ women from around the world gathered in New York for three days of dialogue and deliberation at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit. Natalie Isaacs, 1MW CEO and Founder, was one of them.

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Natalie Isaacs, 1MW CEO and Founder

I’m talking to you tonight not as some long-term green role model … far from it. I am a mother of 4, a businesswoman and until only a few years ago I was absolutely nowhere on my own climate change journey….I had my head buried deep in the sand. I went along thinking that I was just one person and really one person couldn’t make a difference.

[But] for me there was this deep disconnect between being aware, and translating that into real action.

I do think that is a fundamental flaw for a lot of people.  When you don’t know enough about something it’s much easier to do nothing at all…

But in the middle of 2006 I had an epiphany and changed. In Australia there was a huge shift in public awareness on climate change.

I FINALLY INTERNALISED CLIMATE CHANGE…

I FINALLY REALISED IN FACT THAT INSTEAD OF IT BEING SOMEONE ELSE’S ISSUE…

THAT IT WAS ACTUALLY ALL ABOUT ME…

It was all about my family, about my friends and our futures.

So I got my head around the issues and started to act in my daily life.

I thought there must be so many other women out there like me… Women, who were not acting, not connected…

So in the middle of 2009 after a couple of years of pulling it together I launched 1 Million Women – a non-government, non-profit organisation that exists to engage women to take practical action on climate change through the way we live and through our everyday choices.

4 years on 1 Million Women has evolved into a strong community of women. Women of all ages and backgrounds and from right across the country have joined us, although I know a million women is a lot and is still our huge challenge…

In Australia, a very large and very well-off country of only 23 million people, we spend $10.5 billion a year on stuff we barely or never use, stuff that just ends up in landfill. We purchase a billion fashion items a year, and throw many of them away in no time at all. Up to 20% of the household electricity we pay for is simply wasted. We waste 20% of the food we buy – that’s 1 in very 5 shopping bags of food.

If everyone in the world tried to live like Australians, we’d need 4 planets … not just the 1 we have.

TO REALLY CHANGE BEHAVIOUR in a developed country such as Australia WE HAVE TO THINK OUTSIDE OF THE TRADITIONAL FRAMEWORK OF OUR HIGH-CONSUMPTION WEALTHY WORLD SOCIETY.

IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO JUST PUSH THE BOUNDARIES INSIDE THAT FRAMEWORK. THAT JUST WON’T GET US FAR ENOUGH OUTSIDE OF OUR COMFORT ZONES.

I believe the moment you honestly internalise that the way that we live has a harmful impact on the planet … that it is then that our traditional framework for decision-making really can change. I know, because that’s what happened to me. 

I get asked a lot – Why is this just a women’s movement –

I think instead of questioning ‘why women’, the real question is:

  • How could we possibly do WITHOUT having women front and centre of any mobilisation to fight the global challenge of dangerous climate change?
  • How could we NOT deliberately target women as change agents, whether in their own homes in a privileged nation like my country, or on the frontline of the climate catastrophe in countries that are far less well off?

For 1 Million Women, it’s all about action in our daily lives. It’s this action that leads to empowerment, that leads to finding your voice and putting pressure on governments and it’s this kind of action that ultimately leads to profound behaviour change.

Please join us and be counted. 1 million is a big number.

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Natalie Isaacs, signing the IWECI Summit Declaration

  • Read all our blogs from the summit here
  • Check out the photos on Facebook

We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.a