Advocacy for Gender Equality at the COP22

At the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change a  Gender Day was once again specifically dedicated to raising awareness with respect to equality between the sexes within the sphere of climate change and environmental issues. The day began with a state-of-play and updating session concerning the work of the particular interest group dedicated to women's rights, the UN Women and Gender Constituency (WGC).

Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are currently working at Marrakech to define in practical terms how to follow up on the commitments assumed under the Paris Agreement. Climate finance and the transition towards a sustainable economy are one of the main issues the Conference has to focus on. The key word is implementation and civil society is working tirelessly to monitor and influence the decisions of the Parties.

The Paris Agreement represented a historic turning point in the fight against climate change. For the first time, almost all the countries in the world have joined forces in order to find a solution to a phenomenon that endangers millions of people every year. This is a remarkable achievement, but certain critical issues and concerns still have to be addressed. For example, the agreement restricted references to human rights, a fundamental element to ensure climate justice. More specifically, certain principles relating to women's rights were included in the preamble and mentioned in the articles on adaptation and capacity building, however the Constituency expressed strong doubts concerning the effectiveness of their inclusion, also lamenting the fact they are absent in other crucial areas of the text, such as the article on the climate finance, which is crucial for the implementation of effective environmental policies.

As it is not possible to modify the terms of the Agreement, COP22 represents for civil society an opportunity to remedy the drawbacks of the text, influencing the manner in which it may be implemented. With this intention, the UN Women and Gender Constituency drew attention to the inadequacy of the financial commitments of developed countries in the areas of mitigation and adaptation. The roadmap to reach 100 billion USD by the year 2020, for example, is an initiative aimed at providing financial support on the part of developed countries for those who suffer most from the consequences of climate change. However, despite the intention, capitalization of the fund is slow in moving forward. Moreover, according to the Constituency it would be necessary to proceed with the financing of environmental policies and projects, ensuring at the same time the integration of a gender perspective, which at present appears to be lacking.

During the months preceding the entry into force of the Paris Agreement the Constituency implemented intense advocacy with members of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) of the UNFCCC, the body entrusted with the implementation of the Convention. This commitment bore fruit a couple of days ago with the approval of  'Agenda Item 16 - Gender and Climate Change' by the SBI, which this morning was welcomed as a success. The document provides for inclusion of a gender perspective in the implementation of the Paris Agreement in a transverse manner, also including climate finance. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN women, said that "thanks to this document the parties will not be able to ignore the rights of women in the process of implementing the Paris Agreement (...), and this is a huge accomplishment bearing witness to the fundamental role of civil society in the implementation of climate justice".

Chiara Soletti

Published for Italian Climate Network on the association’s website.