The participation of women in 30 years of United Nations climate summits has been a minority but arriving at number 27 in this Egyptian city, they have shouldered the hardest work, forging consensus through concessions and limiting agreements between the parties.
The Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) released a study on gender inequality in those conferences between 2009 and 2021, and this year there are no traces of changes in the composition of the delegations and even less in those of the national delegation headquarters.
Women’s representation in climate leadership
However, in this 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, prominent delegates have been entrusted with the role of “facilitators” of consensus on critical aspects of climate adaptation, highlighting the specialized portal Renewable Energies.
They are the Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge of Spain, Teresa Ribera, third vice president of her government, and the Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Technology of the Maldives, Shauna Aminath.
They have had to work on the thorny issue, premiered at COP27, of the damage caused by climate change caused by the consumption of fossil fuels in the industrialized North, and the losses and compensation due to the nations of the South.
This issue, together with a decarbonization of the economy with the gradual renunciation of the use of fossil fuels, is one of the two crucial to agree on agreements for effective progress at COP27, whose conclusion was scheduled for this Friday the 18th, but which occurs here It is already taken for granted that it will last another day or two.
The Chilean Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas, and the German envoy for Climate Action, Jennifer Morgan, former director of the environmental organization Greenpeace, also worked to introduce the topic to COPP27.
Wedo recalled that throughout the negotiations on these matters, in recent years, governments around the world have agreed that promoting gender equality and protecting the human rights of women is necessary to meet global climate goals and development.
“While we have seen many excellent initiatives to improve women’s participation, from travel funds to mentoring networks, progress remains uneven and unacceptably slow,” the New York-based NGO said.
Protections for environmental and human rights defenders
As a sample, their study indicated that the percentage of women in all national delegations in the COP cycle increased from 30% for meetings in 2009 to 38% in 2021.
This is “an increase of less than 10 percentage points, despite increased political commitments and activities to promote equal participation.”
Although her report does not contain data on COP27, some images such as the “family photo” of the heads of delegation at the beginning of the work recall the minority situation of women in decision-making.
Aminath said she noticed that when the heads of government gathered for the family photo at the start of the summit, almost all of them were men. “But when it came to the people doing the work, there were more women and young people.”
“I hope that this time all the women who are here can make a difference”, commented the Maldivian minister.
Participation of women
Women’s participation has been highest in Latin American, Eastern European and Western European delegations, up to 45% or more, and much lower in Africa and Asia, often no more than 35%.
“At this rate, gender parity in national COP delegations will not be achieved until 2040, and gender parity in heads of delegations (10% were women in 2009 and 13% in 2021) will not be achieved in a foreseeable future,” the Wedo report stated.
In general at climate conferences, the COP and others, beyond participation statistics, “it has been recognized that new measurements are needed to assess the quality of women’s participation, including, for example, the times of use of the word,” the report says.
For example, at the UNFCCC technology and finance meetings in 2021, men were found to be 51% of government delegates but 60% of active plenary speakers – meetings attended by all parties – and they talked 74% of the time.
Green Climate Fund
Wedo documented that at the 22nd meeting of the Green Climate Fund, in 2019 in South Korea, men accounted for 79% of the total speaking time of the meeting among all stakeholders present. When only Board members were counted, that usage jumped to 93% of the time.
At COP27 “we understand that we must work to find a solution, especially for the most vulnerable people. Women are at the forefront of the climate crisis,” Morgan finally stated.
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