This guest post was written by COP23 VLS student delegate Maria Paula Gonzalez Espinel. Maria Paula graduated with her LLM from VLS and now works in Bogota at Colombia Macias Gomez & Asociados Abogados, one of the largest environmental law firms in her country.
Over the years there has been an increasing understanding that women face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change but also that they are critical in implementing climate change and sustainability solutions. Parties to the UNFCCC at COP23 established the Gender Action Plan (GAP) under the Lima Work Program on Gender with five priority areas recognizing the importance of including women and men equally in the UNFCCC processes and in the development and implementation of national climate policies that are gender-responsive. The five priority areas are: (a) Capacity-building, knowledge sharing and communication, (b) Gender balance, participation and women´s leadership, (c)Coherence: on gender and climate change across UNFCCC and UN system, (d) Gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation and (e) Monitoring and reporting.
COP24 is the halfway point of this plan. Because of that, there is going to be a lot of events and activities in Katowice showcasing how Parties are implementing these priority areas. In addition, governments will consider the Gender Composition Report prepared by the Secretary to assist the Parties in tracking their progress towards meeting the goal of gender balance in advancing gender-sensitive climate policy.
The report reveals that more than half of the Bodies in this COP have female representation and that there is a record number of female delegates elected to the position of Chair or Co-Chair of the Bodies. Even though this shows improvement in the participation of women in bodies of the COP, what we really need is an equal number of women and men taking place in the negotiations. There is still plenty to do, as Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said: “Women and girls must be empowered to be agents and leaders of climate action. (…) most of the work still remains to be done. If we want to reduce the gender gap, we need to use every single opportunity to act.”
Tomorrow, on December 11th at COP24, the UNFCCC will celebrate Gender Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the GAP, and highlighting women’s leadership in climate action, gender, and climate technology. This is a great opportunity to participate and play our part in fulfilling the objectives of the Paris Agreement for everyone and with everyone worldwide. Please #ActOnTheGAP and follow the action list of this year’s COP!.