“Now is the time for all women, no matter their focus, to re-imagine themselves as also climate leaders. We call on all other women and men in positions of power and privilege to do the same.”

Pat Mitchell and Ronda Carnegie, co-conveners of the Connected Women Leaders (CWL) Forum

One of former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson’s stories that has stayed with me over the years is how women leaders at the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference got together in the middle of the night to strategize support for the inclusion of a provision about gender equity as a key component of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Decision 23 is a pledge to promote gender balance and improve the participation of women at the negotiating table in future climate change conferences. Their last-minute efforts paid off andDecision 23 was adopted. It’s known as the “Doha Miracle.”

As Mary has noted in her book Climate Justice and in her tireless advocacy as president of the Mary Robinson Foundation, women account for 50 percent of the world’s population but we do not have half of the decision-making power — not in any field, including in the design, planning and implementation of climate policy and action.

Mary believes the way forward towards solutions to the climate crisis is through the new and more actively engaged leadership of women, and at the Connected Women Leaders (CWL) Forum that Ronda Carnegie and I co-convened in Bellagio, Italy in April, she challenged the 30 global women  leaders present to make a commitment to put climate justice at the center of their work — whatever their primary focus might be — and to become a Connected Leader for Climate Justice. Every woman in attendance said “yes” and together co-wrote our own declaration, inviting other women and girls to join us. 

This week in NY, we officially launched the CWL Declaration on Climate Justice at the Doc Society’s Climate Story Lab. Along with Dr. Katharine Wilkinson and Mary Robinson, Jess Search and her team led the effort in further shaping the Declaration, bringing in others with our new #WomenLeadClimate initiative.

I hope you will join us by signing on to the Declaration at WomenLeadClimate.org.

The mission of CWL is to activate the power of women, working together through connected leadership, to find better solutions to global challenges.

CWL is building a transformative global agenda centered on climate justice and its link to gender equity, recognizing that education, human security, economic opportunity, and the health and well-being of women and girls are critically interconnected.

The launch is the start of what we hope will galvanize women leaders from across all sectors of society to prioritize climate justice in a new way.

Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, author of The New York Times bestseller Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming and vice president at Project Drawdown, a nonprofit lifting up climate solutions, wrote a powerful op-ed in Time magazine on why we should all be championing women leading on climate change.

“This groundswell of leadership gives me courage. 
To my mind, this is where possibility lives — possibility that we can turn away from the brink and move towards a life-giving future for all.”

Dr. Katharine Wilkinson

The CWL’s Declaration on Climate Change states that “the climate movement cannot succeed without an urgent upsurge in women’s leadership across the Global South and the Global North. Women and girls are already boldly leading on climate justice, addressing the climate crisis in ways that heal, rather than deepen, systemic injustices. Yet, these voices are often under-represented and efforts inadequately supported. 

Now is the moment to recognize the wisdom and leadership of women and girls. Now is the moment to grow in number and build power. We invite all of our sisters to rise and to lead on climate justice, and for those with relative power and privilege to make space for and support others.  

To change everything, we need everyone.

We actively and decisively pledge to use our positions of power and privilege to:

  • Support women and girls around the world to step forward and claim their space and leadership within the climate movement, and to lift up their voices and stories. All women and girls have a place in this work.
  • Unify women’s efforts to create equity in health, education, economy, politics, peace and security, and beyond with the climate justice movement. Human rights and climate are inseparable.
  • Raise the climate crisis and solutions for consideration in all institutional settings possible, including boards, initiatives, conferences, and forums. The climate crisis is everyone’s issue.”

One Earth. One chance. Let’s seize it.

Hindou and Mary
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim and Mary Robinson

As Mary Robinson often says, “Climate change is a manmade problem that requires a feminist solution.”

We urge you to sign the Declaration if you support these goals and to circulate it via social media, email, whatever platform you prefer, to others (men and women!) who care about taking action toward mitigating the effects of climate change and securing all populations — especially the most vulnerable — against the inevitable worsening effects of natural disasters and the changing landscape of the earth and our dependence on it.

Read the full declaration at WomenLeadClimate.org.

Join us by adding your signature here.

And if you’re on social media, please help spread the word by posting your support w/#womenleadclimate. On Instagram and Twitter, follow the conversation at @weleadclimate. Here are some graphics to help you get involved!

— Pat


  • Pat Mitchell is a lifelong advocate for women and girls. At every step of her career, Mitchell has broken new ground for women, leveraging the power of media as a journalist, an Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated producer to tell women’s stories and increase the representation of women onscreen and off. Transitioning to an executive role, she became the president of CNN Productions, and the first woman president and CEO of PBS and the Paley Center for Media. Today, her commitment to connect and strengthen a global community of women leaders continues as a conference curator, advisor and mentor. In partnership with TED, Mitchell launched TEDWomen in 2010 and is its editorial director, curator and host. She is also a speaker and curator for the annual Women Working for the World forum in Bogota, Colombia, the Her Village conference in Beijing, and the Women of the World (WOW) festival in London. In 2017, she launched the Transformational Change Leadership Initiative with the Rockefeller Foundation focused on women leaders in government and civil society. In 2014, the Women’s Media Center honored Mitchell with its first-annual Lifetime Achievement Award, now named in her honor to commend other women whose media careers advance the representation of women. Recognized by Hollywood Reporter as one of the most powerful women in media, Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” and Huffington Post’s list of “Powerful Women Over 50,” Mitchell also received the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Leadership. She is a contributor to Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership, and wrote the introduction to the recently published book and museum exhibition, 130 Women of Impact in 30 Countries. In 2016, she served as a congressional appointment to The American Museum of Women’s History Advisory Council. She is writing a memoir, Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing a Life of Power and Purpose, that will be published in 2019. Mitchell is active with many nonprofit organizations, serving as the chair of the boards of the Sundance Institute and the Women’s Media Center. She is a founding member of the VDAY movement and on the boards of the Skoll Foundation and the Acumen Fund. She is also an advisor to Participant Media and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mitchell is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a master's degree in English literature and several honorary doctorate degrees. She and her husband, Scott Seydel, live in Atlanta and have six children and 13 grandchildren.