Conference of the Parties

Since its creation, UN Women has played an active role in advocacy and technical support around gender and climate change. This has included taking part in and closely following the yearly UNFCCC Conference of Parties sessions, ever since COP 17 in 2011.

COP 23

In 2017 the UN Climate Change Conference sessions are officially referred to as COP 23/ CMP 13/ CMA 1-2 or the twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 23); the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13); and the second part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1.2)

The sessions will take place from 6 to 17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the presidency of Fiji. At COP 23, the forty-seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 47), will also meet and consider possible elements of the gender action plan as mandated by decision 21/CP.22. UN Women engages closely with Parties and observers to contribute to the development of the gender action plan.

Specifically, UN Women submitted possible elements of the gender action plan and supported Parties in organizing a two-day informal consultation with a large group of Parties and interested observers in The Hague in March 2017. The summary report of the informal consultation was submitted as input to the in-session workshop during SBI 46 in May 2017 and served as the basis for discussions.

UN Women hopes for a gender action plan that will ensure the implementation of more than 60 decisions with gender-specific mandates adopted by Parties. The gender action plan should have clearly defined priority areas and results to be achieved and specify implementing actors and timelines.

At COP 23, UN Women will lead, co-organize and engage in a number of events to contribute to substantive discussions and to raise the visibility of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the climate change discourse and actions. Among the gender-specific events include: Promoting effective climate action through gender-responsive and human rights-based approaches, networking of gender focal points and focal points of other thematic areas, including education and meeting of women leaders. UN Women will also contribute to events on disaster risk reduction, food security and land use and human settlements. In the One UN Exhibit Booth on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, UN Women, together with UN Volunteers and the International Labor Organization, will showcase women’s leadership and contribution to addressing climate change.

COP 22

With the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22) is momentous. The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) will meet for the first time.

For UN Women, the Paris Agreement is historic and an important milestone. It is the first universal climate change agreement to call on Parties to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women when taking actions to address climate change. The Paris Agreement also calls on Parties to implement gender-responsive adaptation and capacity-building actions. These commitments from the Paris Agreement, together with the numerous earlier decisions that call for gender-specific action across the different areas of work of the Parties to the Convention, provide a strong foundation for truly gender-responsive climate actions and centrally embed women’s and girls’ needs, interests and contributions in this work.

At COP 22, Parties are expected to adopt a decision on an enhanced work programme on gender. This presents a unique opportunity to build on the gains in advancing gender equality and on improving women’s participation in the UNFCCC processes. UN Women will also present its three Flagship Programme Initiatives that most directly address the nexus of gender equality and climate change, namely those on energy, climate resilient agriculture and gender inequality of risk.

Parties’ decision on the work programme on gender

At COP 22, UN Women calls for a decision that presents a unique opportunity to build on the gains in advancing gender equality and on improving women’s participation in the UNFCCC processes.

In its submission on the key elements of a decision on an enhanced work programme on gender, UN Women called for a comprehensive work programme on gender that will ensure the systematic integration of a gender perspective in all areas of climate related work; and for the full, equal and effective participation of women in climate policy making and programme implementation at all levels.

UN Women encourages the development and adoption by Parties, at COP 23, of a gender policy. Such a gender policy can serve as the framework for a gender-responsive approach to climate change, with the Paris Agreement as the foundation. It should be complemented by a comprehensive and multi-year work programme on gender that includes priority action areas, timelines, key indicators of achievement, responsible actors and monitoring and review mechanisms.

Until the adoption of a gender policy and comprehensive multi-year work programme on gender, UN Women calls for the continuation of the work started by the Lima Work Programme on Gender, including: training and awareness-raising for women and men delegates on gender-responsive climate policy; in-session workshops including on the integration of a gender perspective in the formulation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), national adaptation plans (NAPs) and national communications (NC). Other activities to implement the Paris Agreement, such as capacity building, technical reviews, stocktaking and transparency exercises should also continue.

UN Women’s Programmatic Engagement on Climate Action

From a programmatic perspective, UN Women has launched a set of Flagship initiatives in the areas of climate smart agriculture, access to decentralized renewable energy and on the gender inequality of risk that aim to leverage co-benefits between gender equality and climate action for sustainable development.

While the gender-differentiated impact of climate change on women is well understood and recognized in both the climate literature and increasingly in the safeguard arrangements of climate investments, the contributions of women as agents of change in scaling up climate action are often overlooked.

Women’s participation is marginalized when they are categorized solely as a “vulnerable group”. This categorization only emphasizes their needs, while their participation and leadership in accelerating the adoption of renewable energy technologies and climate-smart agricultural practices, promoting sustainable transport and urban development, and acting to reduce and respond to climate-related disaster risks remain unmeasured, unnoticed and unsupported.

Leveraging co-benefits between gender equality and climate action therefore requires a paradigm shift that puts gender concerns and the voice and agency of women and girls, and men and boys, at the center of climate management efforts and investments.

To seize these opportunities, a key challenge will be for practitioners and stakeholders to mainstream gender considerations into climate action more generally, and with a strong focus on climate investment decision-making processes.

Gender mainstreaming requires an approach to climate and development interventions so that they benefit men and women equally by transforming social, economic and institutional structures to further gender equality and women’s empowerment in climate action and resilience building.

Learn more about UN Women’s Flagship Programme Initiatives.

COP 21

The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France. COP 21, as it is most widely known, is significant and much-anticipated as Parties are expected to adopt a legally binding and universal climate agreement to be implemented by governments to ensure that global temperature is kept below 2°C.

UN Women has been closely following the negotiations—carried out through the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)—to ensure that the climate agreement incorporates language on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Through consistent advocacy and substantive and technical support to Parties at their request, the draft agreement and the decision to give effect to the agreement now have gender-specific references in the Preamble, Purpose, Adaptation, Finance and Capacity-building sections. To ensure that these gains are secured through Paris and as part of its outreach to Parties and other actors, UN Women prepared and disseminated its proposals to ensure that key gender-specific references are retained and or strengthened in the climate agreement and the accompanying decision to implement the agreement and the decision governing Parties’ actions from 2015 to 2020. The new climate agreement will take effect in 2020. 

As part of its substantive contribution to the implementation of the Lima Work Programme on Gender and also the on-going climate negotiations, UN Women, together with the UNFCCC Secretariat and UN DESA organized an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) in Bonn, Germany in October 2015 on Implementing gender-responsive climate action in the context of sustainable development. Their discussions and recommendations—which focused on gender mainstreaming in UNFCCC mechanisms and processes, in particular on technology and finance—provided substantive input to the negotiating session in October that followed. The recommendations of the EGM will be featured at COP 21 at a lunchtime event on 8 December, UNFCCC’s “Gender Day”.

COP 20

The twentieth Conference of Parties was held in Lima, Peru from 1 to 12 December 2014. At COP 20, UN Women, working closely with civil society partners—in particular those representing the Women and Gender Constituency at the UNFCCC, and government champions (among Parties to the UNFCCC)—made positive inroads in incorporating explicit references to gender and women in the draft text for the new climate agreement for the first time. At COP 20, an increasing number of Parties referred to the importance of gender equality in the climate agreement. UN Women provided substantive support, which was complemented by its reinforced outreach to Parties, and advocacy by various gender equality advocates.

Building on past gains and as a follow-up to the implementation of UNFCCC Decision 23/CP.18 on Promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC, UN Women closely monitored the negotiations and worked with Parties and other stakeholders towards the adoption of the Lima Work Programme on Gender. The two-year programme aims to promote gender balance and achieve gender-responsive climate policy, through: training and awareness-raising among delegates on issues related to gender balance and climate change; building the skills and capacity of female delegates to effectively participate in UNFCCC meetings; and clarifying the meaning of the term “gender-responsive climate policy” from an implementation perspective. The Work Programme also mandated that Parties and other stakeholders to the UNFCCC Secretariat submit their views on gender-responsive climate policy with a focus on mitigation and technology development and transfer, as well as on adaptation, capacity-building, and training and the holding of in-session workshops on these topics. 

Gender equality issues were also given visibility at COP 20 on “Gender Day”, where UN Women was represented by Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri on a High-level panel which also served as a Beijing+20 commemoration event. Read a column by Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

COP 19

At the nineteenth Conference of Parties held in Warsaw, Poland from 11-22 November 2013, Parties agreed on a firm timetable to secure the adoption of a new global climate change agreement in 2015, to come into force in 2020. UN Women worked with Parties and stakeholders to ensure that the gender dimensions of climate change impacts and response feature prominently in the new agreement. The organization supported capacity-building efforts targeting women delegates to the UNFCCC, including by through networking activities to encourage mentorship. UN Women also supported the participation of nine women government officials from least-developed countries and small-island developing States in online courses on climate change diplomacy and climate finance to deepen their understanding of the global climate change discussions, so as to enhance their contributions as part of their delegations and lead on this issue at the national level.

In addition, UN Women worked to profile gender equality and women’s empowerment in relevant processes and events including the in-session workshop on gender balance, gender-sensitive climate policy and capacity-building, where UN Women presented key findings of a research report on how gender balance has been advanced in various multilateral and intergovernmental processes. UN Women co-organized and participated in a number of events in Warsaw, including the high-level panel on “Gender and Climate Change: Vision 50/50” which was a celebration of the increasing attention to gender equality and women’s voice in the UNFCCC process.

COP 18

The eighteenth Conference of the Parties was held in Doha, Qatar from 26 November to 7 December 2012. Governments concluded the work that had begun in Bali in 2007 on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention, and agreed on a firm timetable for the adoption of a universal climate change agreement by 2015, to come into force in 2020. A second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol was also launched at COP 18, to continue as of 1 January 2013 for a period of eight years. As in the past, UN Women followed the negotiations and maintained active outreach to State Parties to ensure that decisions adopted incorporate references to gender equality, women’s rights and women’s contribution in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

A turning point for the consideration of gender equality issues in the UNFCCC context arrived with the adoption of a landmark decision (23/CP.18) 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. Hailed as the “Doha Miracle”, the decision constituted a critical step forward towards advancing gender-sensitive climate policy as it mandated the consideration of a standing agenda item on gender equality in the annual COPs. The decision also (i) Adopted a goal of gender balance in bodies established under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol and invited Parties to strive for gender balance in their delegations to sessions under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol; (ii) Incorporated a reporting mechanism whereby the UNFCCC Secretariat is to present an annual report on progress made towards the goal of gender balance; and (iii) Provided for the holding of an in-session workshop on gender balance in the context of the UNFCCC.

COP 17

The seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011. Negotiations advanced implementation of the Convention, along with the related Kyoto Protocol and Cancun Agreements, and resulted in the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. Parties agreed to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015; extend the Kyoto Protocol into a second commitment period (2012–2017); and form the Green Climate Fund.

Green Climate Fund

Among the key gains of the 11 gender-specific references secured at COP 17 was the inclusion of “gender-sensitivity” as among the six principles of the governing instrument with respect to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund. It stipulates a gender-sensitive approach as part of the Fund’s objectives and guiding principles, and calls for due consideration to be given to gender balance on the Fund’s board and secretariat.

In Focus: Women and climate change

Aminata Traore works in the greenhouse of Sidibe Argo-Techniques in Katibougou Village, outside Bamako, Mali on November 3, 2013. Sidibe Argo-Techniques is growing watermelons, sweet peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables.   Photo: World Bank/Dominic Chavez

A changing climate affects everyone, but it’s the world’s poorest and those in vulnerable situations, especially women and girls, who bear the brunt of environmental, economic and social shocks. Often, women and girls are the last to eat or be rescued; they face greater health and safety risks as water and sanitation systems become compromised; and they take on increased domestic and care work as resources dwindle. Read more