COP23 and a UNFCCC Gender Action Plan -Why it matters to Pacific Women!

Suva, Fiji,

25 September 2017

At this year’s UNFCCC 23rd Conference of the Parties in November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, work will continue toward a UNFCCC Gender Action Plan (GAP). This is a priority of Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality DIVA website and the Pacific Partnerships on Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Coalition, as part of the UNFCCC Women and Gender Constituency WGC.Org. It is also a stated priority of the COP23 Presidency, the Republic of Fiji.

According to H.E Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva who is the COP23 Chief Negotiator,

“… the (COP23 Presidency) is pushing for decisive action to finalise the Gender Action Plan at COP23. It is an important priority at the upcoming COP. We are committed to ensuring that women’s voices are heard because women are key agents of change in their communities.”

Why is the linkage between Gender and Climate Change so important? And how does a UNFCCC Gender Action Plan, help?

Climate change has a greater impact on those people and communities, in all countries, that already face multiple forms of injustice and human rights violations, who are most reliant on natural resources to meet daily needs, and/or those with least capacity and resources to respond to natural hazards. This is worse for marginalised and inter-sectionally affected women and people such as those living in small island states and territories, least developed countries, people in the global South and global South in the global North countries, Indigenous people, urban poor, rural and remote communities, women with disabilities, LGBTI people, ethnic minorities, girl child, young women, the elderly, and many others.

Women and girls commonly face much higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change. High levels of sexual and gender based violence, low levels of decisionmaking, strong gendered social norms, high levels of gender discrimination and poverty all exacerbates climate change risks for women and girls of all ages, and the majority of the world’s poor are women. Women’s unequal participation in decision-making processes further compounds inequalities and often prevents women and other marginalised groups from fully contributing to climate-related planning, policy-making, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

Despite all this, women can, and do, play critical roles in response to climate change due to their local knowledge of, and leadership in sustainable practices at the household,  community and national levels, their roles in unpaid care work, in sustainable resource management, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and more.  

Women’s participation at the political level can result in far greater responsiveness to the needs of diverse individuals and grassroots communities, and in ensuring that climate and development justice, as much as generalised mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, technology transfer and capacity building responses, remains the real goal.

So we must place gender justice and human rights at the core of all our climate responses, remove profit as the main goal of much ‘development’ work, and ensure that safety and wellbeing, access to justice, health, and ecological sustainability are the ways that we measure real progress for climate justice and sustainable development.

The UNFCCC GAP Plan is an important part of the solution, in that it will assist to advance gender equality and women’s human rights within the official intergovernmental system, as Member States negotiate annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP), including this year in November 2017, in Bonn Germany.

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Over the years ever since the first UNFCCC Conference of Parties, women’s participation and involvement has been unequal and uneven in the UNFCCC  processes, especially women from the global South, from local and grassroots communities, indigenous women and marginalized groups, women from urban poor, rural and remote communities, women from Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), etc.

The Gender Action Plan came out of  the request made by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation  (SBI) to develop an action plan, in order to support the implementation of gender related decisions and mandates, under the UNFCCC.

The elements of the Gender Action Plan were formulated during an in-session workshop during the 46th Session of the Subsidiary Body this year, which invited submissions of views from interested Parties, Constituted Bodies, UN organizations, Observers and other Stakeholders.

As such, the priority at this years COP23, is a strong political call for Parties to effectively advance and implement a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Gender Action Plan (GAP) by being specific on actions for a work-plan, by increasing political and financial support, and through ambitious and appropriate resourcing.

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The key elements of a UNFCCC Gender Action Plan include;

*Capacity building, knowledge sharing and Communication

Stressing the importance of including a gender perspective in climate change programs and plans, as well as national and regional development. Achieving this depends on training and building a cadre of diverse gender experts on gender-responsive policy, planning, and programming at national levels, including ensuring that grassroots women-led civil society and social movements already doing climate change and DRR work at local, national and regional levels, are substantively included in GAP work.

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*Gender balance and Participation

The promotion of gender balance and participation is also central to the mandate of the UNFCCC. In order to achieve the positive results of increased diverse women’s participation, including indigenous women, women from urban poor, rural and remote communities and marginalised women, the UNFCCC must address the current participation inequalities that exist amongst the delegates, at various levels. The limited number of women involved in decision-making at national levels is still a major problem. In the global South countries and poor communities in the global North countries, gender inequalities in participation are increased, leading to exacerbated negative impacts on climate change decisions. The GAP therefore will propose a 50 percent representation of women in all Party delegations and constituted bodies under the UNFCCC by 2019.

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*Coherence within the UNFCCC and other UN Agencies

Strengthened integration of gender considerations within and across the work of the UNFCCC constituted bodies, across work-streams, and within the work of the secretariat is vital for effective and consistent implementation of gender mandates and activities, and enhancing synergies with other UN agencies and processes and relevant international instruments and mandates on climate-related gender just action, consistent with long-agreed human rights commitments, the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals.

*Gender-responsive implementation and Means of Implementation (MoI)

Democratised and participative development and planning for gender-responsive climate change actions is essential, and this requires ambitious resources including financing, to advance the adaptive capacity of women, and toward safe and just national, regional and global sustainable development.

*Monitoring and Reporting

Parties, Observers and other international and multilateral organizations will need to commit to regularly review and document the mainstreaming of gender considerations and concrete steps they have taken to : enable women’s participation, action, voice and knowledge and decision making power; to develop climate policy at the international, national and sub-national level; reporting these results in national reports; and submitting this information to the UNFCCC Secretariat, all Member States and Observers.

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Noelene Nabulivou of DIVA for Equality and Pacific Partnerships on Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (PPGCCSD) Fiji in a WGC preparatory session in Bonn, with women climate activists from all regions.

The UNFCCC and the COP23 Presidency, the Republic of Fiji,  majority of Member States and Observers/Civil society and social movements working on climate change now recognise the importance of the equitable involvement of all women and girls and their communities in all areas of climate and DRR policies, including the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan.

Simply put, the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan strives to integrate gender responsive data, analysis and action into climate change policies and strategies, increasing the number of women leaders in the UNFCCC processes and deepening and broadening their roles in climate change policy.

Political Adviser of DIVA for Equality and Co-convenor of Pacific Partnerships on Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Noelene Nabulivou said, “It is imperative that gender justice, women’s human rights and universal human rights is at the core of all climate change and disaster responses. A Gender Action Plan lays a firm base for further work in the UNFCCC as the main climate change intergovernmental negotiation space, even as women and people around the world continue to struggle every day for human rights, social, economic, ecological and climate justice, and for a healthy and sustainable planet.”

 

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