on 15th November 2016

Gender in the Marrakech Climate Talks

The UNFCCC recognises the importance of involving women and men equally in international climate change negotiations as well as in national level policy processes. Within the Paris Agreement, ‘Parties acknowledge that adaptation should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach.’ The UNFCCC further recognises that women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor are women. Women must play a critical role in addressing climate change.

Amongst the key demands submitted by the women and gender constituency to the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP 22) held in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016, is a call to increased political commitment, mainstreaming gender, and institutionalisation of gender matters within the UNFCCC. The women and gender constituency called for the extension and strengthening of the historic Lima Work Programme on Gender. The Lima Work Programme was a welcome step in moving beyond words on paper to supporting implementation of gender-responsive climate policies.

There has been notable progress regarding gender at this year’s COP, compared to the Lima, Peru talks in 2014. While the Lima talks focused on justifying the importance of gender in the climate talks and pushing for political will to support the gender agenda, this year’s COP delved deeper into discussions around pushing for more finance for capacity building for women negotiators, as well as discussions around more transformative approaches to achieving gender equality. In Lima, only a few countries supported gender with even fewer negotiating blocks, such as the European Union, supporting the inclusion of gender in the negotiations. In comparison, COP22 saw more negotiating blocks, including the developing country blocks that came out in support for stronger mechanisms to address gender at the international and national levels.

Good progress has been made at the COP22, with negotiators agreeing to extend the Lima Work programme for another three years. The extended work programme includes:

  1. Obligations for parties to report on national gender specific efforts;
  2. Enhanced capacity building and knowledge sharing channels for women negotiators attending the climate talks, to ensure that they can better articulate issues and engage more meaningfully and effectively in the negotiations;
  3. Research and analysis on challenges to the full and equal participation of women in climate-related processes and activities;
  4. Preparation of a technical paper to ensure more gender balance in the UNFCCC negotiations.

There are also provisions for holding inclusive multi-stakeholder workshops to jointly elaborate the gender action plan in 2017 as well as developing terms of reference on reporting and reviewing the work programme itself. Key gaps in the extended Lima Work Programme include weak reference to issues of gender equality and human rights in past agreements. A more direct mention of gender equality and human rights would ensure stronger commitment and allocation of resources to reducing gender parity. There’s uncertainty on finance related issues, given that the negotiators could not agree on which countries are most responsible for funding the work programme, and the finance contributions for gender currently remain voluntary and unpredictable.

Generally, the decision made at COP22 is not transformative and will not have an impact on the lives of women at the national and community levels, but must be celebrated for advancing the gender agenda in terms of increased political commitment, mainstreaming gender and institutionalisation of gender matters within the UNFCCC.

Related CARE reports on gender:

Hope dries up? Women and Girls Coping with Drought and Climate Change

Gender dynamics in a changing climate: How gender and adaptive capacity affect resilience

Enhancing Resilience through Gender Equality

From UNFCCC: More information on the connection between gender and climate change 


Emma Bowa

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