The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP-18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Doha, Qatar, concluded on 8 December with a celebrated decision on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of climate change.
The decision on “Promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties in bodies established pursuant to the Convention or the Kyoto Protocol,” takes a significant step in advancing gender-sensitive climate policy by ensuring that women’s voices are heard.
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri attended the Conference to demonstrate UN Women’s commitment to ensuring that gender equality and women’s empowerment are key considerations in climate change policy and norm-setting. She hailed the decision as a “landmark achievement” for women’s representation and leadership in the global governance framework.
UN Women’s engagement with Parties and civil society partners, most notably the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, played a critical role in this decision. The Entity provided substantive input to the initial draft text, which was ultimately tabled by the European Union under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation. UN Women subsequently worked to ensure broad and sustained support for the decision through active outreach and expert technical advice to Parties, when requested, throughout negotiations and until its adoption.
The new decision significantly enhances the agreement adopted 10 years ago by improving the participation of women in the representation of Parties in bodies established under the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol.
The new decision will advance gender equality in various ways. Firstly, it adopts a goal of gender balance in bodies established by the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol to improve women’s participation and ensure more effective climate change policy that addresses the needs of women and men equally.
Secondly, it invites current and future chairs of such bodies to be guided by the goal of gender balance when setting up informal negotiating groups and consultation mechanisms, including in their selection of facilitators and chairs. . Parties to the Convention are also encouraged to include more women as candidates for positions within these bodies and to strive for gender balance in the delegations participating in meetings under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
The decision provides for review and reporting mechanisms to track progress in meeting the goal of gender balance and also It positions the issue of gender and climate change as a standing item on the agenda of sessions of the COP, where it could previously only be discussed under ‘Other Matters.’
At the Conference Ms. Puri underscored that actions on the ground are equally important and showcased how women are already at the “frontline of climate change action.”
UN Women’s impressive array of programs including in Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Mozambique, the Andean and Pacific regions, among others, are examples aimed at building women’s resilience and long-term adaptation to climate change effects. Ms. Puri emphasized that climate change responses should be comprehensive and cover training and capacity-building, improving livelihoods, providing for social protection and basic essential services and infrastructure.
COP 18 concluded with a decision to extend the Kyoto Protocol for another eight years, a firm timetable to adopt a universal climate change agreement by 2015, which will to come into force in 2020. It is expected to carry forward the work on adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology transfer and development, capacity-building and finance, including their gender dimensions.
- Say yes to women’s participation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – UN Women engagement at COP-18 in Doha
- “Say Yes to Women’s Participation in the UNFCCC” (opinion article by Lakshmi Puri and Mary Robinson, in Outreach Magazine)
- Deputy-Executive Director Lakshmi Puri’s profile feature in Outreach Magazine (or watch the podcast)