Integrating gender into the Rio Conventions


Remarks of Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women at panel discusion on the Rio Conventions. Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 20 June 2012.

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Good morning! I am pleased to join you for this panel discussion on the Rio Conventions.

UN Women is charged with promoting accountability to gender equality and women's empowerment across the UN system. And the aim here today is to learn the extent to which gender has been integrated in each of the Conventions to date and how they plan to go forward.

The three Rio Conventions -the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change are widely perceived as the most compelling in their scope, touching upon the most pressing issues of our day: loss of biodiversity, increasing desertification and a warming climate.

Two of the three Conventions integrated gender perspectives from their onset—the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The preambles of both recognize the vital role of women, and both aim for increased women's participation in policy and programming at all levels.

For the Convention on Desertification, gender integration is the norm in the Convention's national action programmes as evidenced by a recent review of gender mainstreaming in decision-making at the national level.

Even so, greater attention to women is warranted in light of the increased vulnerability of women to the effects of drought due to existing resource inequalities and shifting gender roles associated with forced migration.

Though many countries have implemented activities to foster women's empowerment or gender mainstreaming as part of their national action programmes on desertification, others have not yet developed plans to promote gender equality. So these are areas where we need to make greater progress.

As human beings, our ability to live on this planet — to breath air, consume food and water, and cure disease — is intricately linked to biodiversity. However women often have unequal access to education and information, as well as to natural resources and in decision-making around their management.

In response the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity developed a Gender Plan of Action in 2008 that defines their role in stimulating and facilitating efforts on national, regional, and global levels to promote gender equality and mainstream a gender perspective. The next step is to harmonize this plan with the other Conventions and strengthen its implementation.

The same is true for the Convention on Climate change. While the Convention was initially conceptualized as gender-blind, a toe-hold for gender equality was gained with the 2001 Decision 36/CP.7, which aims for gender parity in all of the Convention's created bodies.

Over the past decade, awareness has steadily increased. By the 2011 Conference of the Parties, gender references were integrated into multiple key areas of this evolving climate change regime, especially in the areas of adaptation and climate finance, including in the guidelines of the Green Climate Fund.

The latter is significant in that it is the first time a climate finance mechanism will be established with gender aspects integrated from its onset, including in its objectives and guiding principles, operational modalities, and seeking gender balance on its Board and Secretariat. This Fund is of particular significance in that it is expected to channel much of the $100 billion developed countries committed to mobilize annually by 2020.

Rio+20 brings an opportunity to evaluate how far we've progressed on mainstreaming gender and how best to ensure it is turned into concrete actions.

In an effort to provide a framework for further action towards mainstreaming gender in their work, the Conventions have developed a “Harmonization Road Map to Mainstream Gender in the Three Rio Conventions, with the steadfast support of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

To learn more of this Roadmap, its vision and how it can make a difference for both women and the environment, I invite the Heads of the Convention Secretariats to address five questions :

  1. What is the current mandate of the Rio Convention secretariats in mainstreaming gender into the implementation of the conventions through their core programmes/projects/actions?
  2. What are the gaps in the mandates and core obstacles for implementation to date: What are the key impediments to full mainstreaming?
  3. What are the strategies for common approaches of the Rio Conventions and partnership building on gender mainstreaming that allow for efficiency gains and effectiveness in implementation?
  4. What is the role that the Joint Liaison Group could play for gender mainstreaming?
  5. Vision for the future; What do the Convention secretariats hope to see come from Rio and even from the post-2015 development agenda? What are the long-term objectives of the Conventions and how do they relate with gender mainstreaming?

I now have the pleasure to introduce each of the Panelists - the Executive Secretaries of the Conventions.

Mr. Luc Gnacadja is Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity

Ms. Christiana Figueres is Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Mr Gnacadja, I now give you the floor.