Koronivia Joint Work Programme News Feed

One week after the draft conclusions for the the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) were submitted, and the subsidiary bodies concluded their independent negotiations, representatives from Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and France addressed the media about the work done and conclusions made at the completion of KJWA’s work at COP24.

The panel had a lukewarm response to the outcome of the first “Road Map” workshop since the 4/CP.23 mandate.  The representative from Rwanda was very disappointed about the lack of “welcome” for the IPCC 1.5 Report, which he said is a joke to African countries in particular, who are living the harsh realities of climate change now.  Mr. Bassey of Nigeria emphasized the role of small scale farmers moving forward in response to our changing climate.  Agriculture that works with local knowledge, without the extensive chemical inputs commonly associated with industrial agriculture – farming that “can be done on the streets” – is how we need to move forward with farming our fields and feeding our families.

Modalities and procedures for the implementation of the KJWA were the focus of these joint SBI/SBSTA meetings.  But South Africa’s representative noted that developing Parties, particularly the Africa Group, felt that little support for implementation came to fruition, with finance remaining as the primary roadblock moving forward.  Panelists believe guidelines need to reflect a just socioeconomic basis for food security: adaptation, absolute emissions reductions, ecological integrity, and gender responsiveness.

The session concluded with a question posed by an audience member who, like myself, was unable to attend much of last week’s negotiations – “how can other organizations such as Latin American groups participate in the SBI/SBSTA joint meetings next year?”

The French panelist who promoted France’s sustainable Agroecology initiatives responded by emphasizing engagement in the KJWA workshops via the Submissions Portal.  Participation by all parts of the agricultural community, not just Parties, is key.  Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.59.02 PMWe need to ask questions, offer solutions, and promote an inclusive, equitable, just future for those feeling the drastic effects of climate change already.  As the Nigerian representative concluded, “we have the wisdom, we have the knowledge. We need to share it.”  Lots of experience from the global South remains to be shared by the farmer-scientists who have the tools and must feed the way!


Adaptation and Gender Issues

gender-overview-mainArticle 7 of the Paris Agreement sets the global goal of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response to climate change.

Section 7.5 of the Paris Agreement further clarifies that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based, on local knowledge systems, among other things, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions.

Today at COP24, two side events—Advancing Gender Equality through National Adaptation Plan processes: A straightforward consideration or a complex challenge? and The Global Adaptation Goal and the Importance of Gender Transformative Resilience Finance—emphasized that National Adaptation Plan (“NAP”) processes need to be developed and implemented in a gender responsible manner, pursuant to the Paris Agreement.

In 2017-2018, the NAP Global Network prepared a report entitled Towards Gender-Responsive National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes: Progress and Recommendations for the Way Forward, in the general context of having a better understanding of how developing countries are integrating gender considerations in the NAP processes (the “NAP Global Network Report”). CCAFS-and-Platform-Webinar

In its report, the NAP Global Network reiterated the recent decisions under the UNFCCC that have emphasized the significant linkages between climate action and gender equality (e.g. the 2014 Lima Work Programme on Gender and Climate Change). In 2015-2016, the UNFCCC recognized that the NAP process is an opportunity to integra_group_of_women_plant_paddy_rice_seedlings_in_a_field_near_sekong_2_1ate gender consideration. More generally, it further highlighted that gender equality is recognized as a universal human right and is at the center of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

It is important that NAP processes integrate socio-cultural issues such as gender in order to be effective. As pointed out by the NAP Global Network Report, work has been done on that front in many countries, but there are still many challenges in order to be able to do so successfully.

More specifically, the Report indicates that many countries have made an effort to integrate gender considerations in their NAP documents. However, certain obstacles in integrating gender issues in adaptation measures exist, such as institutional barriers which can limit dialogue and collaboration between gender and climate adaptation actors; information gaps, including sex-disaggregated data related to climate impacts and adaptation needs; and gender analysis of adaptation options, barriers and opportunities.

The NAP Global Network made a series of recommendations to stakeholders who are called to develop and implement NAPs including:

  • Committing to a gender-responsive NAP process going forward gender_crosscutting
  • Using the NAP process to enhance institutional linkages between climate change adaptation and gender equality
  • Improving gender balance in NAP-related institutional arrangements
  • Undertaking gender-balanced and inclusive stakeholder engagement for NAP processes
  • Using gender analysis and stakeholders’ inputs efficiently

The NAP Global Network Report also underlines that investments in country capacity building on gender adaptation need to be more significant.


#ActOnTheGAP

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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 1.29.54 PMOver 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 andPerempuan_Adat_Harus_Dilibatkan_dalam_Negosiasi_Perubahan_Iklim 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. patricia krakowEven 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!.


Looking Inside an Informal Informal Negotiation: Protecting Vulnerable Groups in COP Decisions

The tim47086760_495482350942639_1883073697342816256_ne is 10:00 am. The crowd of negotiators briskly walk into the meeting room while the observers patiently wait outside the hall, hoping for a place to sit in the negotiation. It is the third informal informal meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB). On the table is drafting the decision to the COP about the 2018 report of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism (Excom). This arm of the UNFCCC is responsible for providing recommendations to the COP regarding the issue of loss and damage due to the adverse effects of climate change. As I take a seat on the floor, I can see the negotiators carefully reading the updated draft decision. Immediately, the negotiators are addressing their concerns about the updated text. However, Honduras, on behalf of the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), raised a novel concern. AILAC intervened that the issue of gender has not been brought up as a recommendation by the Excom report. Under a new section of paragraph 5 of the draft decision, AILAC proposed that a sentence addressing the issue of gender equality be included.

There was an awkward silence in the room. A majority of people’s heads nodded, including mine. I immediately thought, “Wow.” But it was not just me who thought so. Placards were flipped up and eager faces were glowing. In succession, other negotiators were agreeing: United States, European Union (EU), Canada, Australia, St. Lucia on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and Timor Leste on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDC). However, other negotiators did not agree. Kuwait, who arrived slightly late, missed the comment and heard of it after the co-facilitator announced that the language would be included under paragraph 5(e). Afterward, Kuwait declined to include gender quality in the decision because climate change impacts everyone equally. Therefore, it argued, the language was unnecessary.

In response, Australia, Norway, and EU cited data that support differentiated impacts of the adverse effects of climate on different groups, especially women. Women are affected more because of their traditional roles as caretakers and vulnerability to violence in stressful environments. However, China also proposed that the gender text should not be included because of the short notice of time. China believes that the issue of gender equality deserves more dedicated time to thoughtfully implement the language as well as including other vulnerable groups such as children. As a result of these contentions, the co-facilitator called for a huddle to propose new language for the issue. What came out was, “To give greater consideration to gender and vulnerable populations, including youth, in the implementation of its 5-year rolling workplan.” Tension again rose over the use of the word gender and vulnerable populations and whether it was necessary to address both at the same time. Eventually, a compromise was reached when Australia proposed the text to read, “To increase its consideration of groups vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change when implementing its five-year rolling workplan.”GAP

Despite the effort, the gender equality was swept under an umbrella term. However, are negotiators responsible for promoting gender equality or the protection of vulnerable populations? Canada made an excellent point when stating that the gender inclusion proposal aligned with decision 3/CP.23—the establishment of a gender action plan (GAP). Under paragraph 3 of the Annex, “GAP recognizes the need for women to be represented in all aspects of the UNFCCC process and the need for gender mainstreaming through all relevant targets and goals in activities under the Convention as an important contribution to increasing their effectiveness.” Furthermore, under paragraph 10 of the Annex, “GAP aims to ensure the respect, promotion and consideration of gender equality and the empowerment of women in the implementation of the Convention and the Paris Agreement.” As GAP is part of COP, it can be said that negotiators do have a duty to promote gender equality and not other vulnerable groups. If COP wanted to protect other vulnerable groups, it could have included those groups in the GAP decision or in another decision. On the other hand, the GAP decision text does not mandate the negotiators to take gender equality, but is more of a suggestion. Under this interpretation, protecting all vulnerable groups may be the balanced choice because then the text will incorporate women and other groups who are disparately affected by climate chance, like youth, elderly, minority, indigenous, and disabled. In the end, the acknowledgment that there is a need to protect vulnerable groups is an immense feat in moving forward on UNFCCC decisions. The fact that the negotiators agreed that more can be done to ensure these groups are protected is the future of what COP decisions will ensure – equality.


Indigenous Women May Just Be the Key to Successful Latin American NDCs

 

Perempuan_Adat_Harus_Dilibatkan_dalam_Negosiasi_Perubahan_IklimDelfina Katip, a preeminent Peruvian advocate for indigenous women’s rights, gave an incredible presentation on the power of indigenous women in climate change adaptation for a side event called Minga NDC and Talanoa Dialogue: Indigenous strategies for climate ambition. The panel began with opening remarks on the importance of including the interests of indigenous people in the Peruvian NDC. International climate change negotiations have been somewhat isolated in the past, not acknowledging other groups’ interests–especially native populations. Achieving the ambitions outlined in NDCs will be a collective job, and the Peruvian presenters made it clear that the country cannot move forward without the national government acknowledging indigenous people’s needs.

Katip’s message was very clear: indigenous women need to participate in climate change actions and projects in Peru.

These women know how to utilize native biodiversity, and how to adapt to changes in the environment. In Peru, climate change has affected both the forestry and clean water availability, thus changing the biodiversity in those areas. Yet these women have learned to keep producing food in their regions. They possess amazing skills to analyze the consequences of climate change,
positive and negative, and develop successful solutions. She described multiple government projects that have failed because officials never thought to ask the local women important factors (like the effects on agriculture, the youth, or biological factors that would negate there projects) they should consider. The role of the woman has always been under appreciated, but NOT today.

The overarching theme here is that NDCs cannot stay as just a document with fancy words. It is time to apply the experiences that women, and men, have with climate change consequences to adaptation strategies. If we can start analyzing conservation through the eyes of adaptation, that will lead to success.


How to Improve the Role of Women for Climate Change Solutions

ZAN-EH-2011-005Every year at the COP, the number of actors and stakeholders that want to fight climate change increases. Women are developing an important leadership on this matter, but it is necessary to keep improving their participation.

The United Nations developed a fact sheet called Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change, which concludes that “the consultation and participation of women in climate change initiatives must be ensured, and the role of women’s groups and networks strengthened.”

The number of women leading the climate fight is increasing. They play an important role and are making a difference at every decision-making level. “In the US studies show that more women believe in the science of climate change than men and are likely to act upon it.

Women have been constantly fighting for their basic rights at a global scale and although they have such experience demanding respect for their rights, it is necessary to improve their participation in climate change issues. So, how can we improve the role of women for climate change solutions?

We need to continue working with study cases, background and training to keep empowering women to challenge climate change decisions taken by corrupted governments.

Women´s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) “is a solutions-based, multi-faceted effort established to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions.”wecan_fb_default2

WECAN is committed to educate and empower women through stories and case studies to advocate for climate justice, gender equality, and rights of nature among others. To accomplish this purpose, WECAN created the “U.S WOMEN´S CLIMATE JUSTICE INITIATIVE”. This initiative calls for immediate action on climate justice and protection of natural resources.

It includes a series of online education and advocacy trainings. These free trainings seek to empower women to reclaim democracy, and make a difference in decisions made by the government while understanding issues relating climate change.

Today at COP23, WECAN reiterated the importance of women for climate change solutions. It highlighted that women are no longer only victims of climate change, but a solution to it.

Education is definitely the key to improve women participation in issues regarding climate change. Helping women understand what are community rights and rights of nature, and ecological economics and the price on carbon, would empower them to claim their rights.

Their knowledge and experience on issues related to the management of natural resources is the perfect combination to make substantive contributions in the decision-making process on environmental governance. More education means more women participation, which hopefully means more progress in the fights against climate change.


Closing the UNFCCC Gender GAP?

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 1.47.14 PMThe Gender Action Plan, with its apt acronym – GAP – was on the agenda earlier this month at the UNFCCC intersessional meetings in Bonn, Germany. And, rightly so. Women’s equal and meaningful participation in the development and implementation of effective climate policy is an agreed goal of the Parties to the Convention. Since COP7 in 2001, when Parties endorsed an increase in women’s participation, this goal has been increasingly articulated and characterized through a total of 75 decisions and mandates within decisions across the UNFCCC programs. (The secretariat’s compilation of these, organized by 9 thematic areas, is an excellent reference.)

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 4.24.07 PMYet, despite all these, Parties have faltered (see secretariat’s annual reports, 2013-2016). As we reported at COP22, in Marrakech (Nov-Dec 2016), Parties again acknowledged women’s under-representation throughout the Convention process and the inadequate progress toward gender-responsive climate policy. This recognition generated the Gender and climate change decision (21/CP.22), which directed the SBI to enhance the Lima work programme on gender (LWPG) and develop a Gender Action Plan (GAP). The GAP’s function is to “support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates.”

At SB46, an in-session workshop provided the primary substance for the GAP. Some of it came from twenty submissions with proposed GAP elements and advice on the workshop’s structure received from Parties (9), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) (8), and NGOs (3). Additional and rich input came from two pre-workshop events: 1) a 2-day informal consultation in March among 45 representatives of Parties, NGOs, and IGOs held at The Hague, Netherlands, and 2) a May 9 Listening and Learning Climate Justice Dialogue among negotiators and grassroots women focused on bringing forth key messages/principles.

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 1.42.46 PMAn open update session on the LWPG ahead of the GAP workshop also introduced the proposed framework that had emerged from the Hague consultation. This comprehensive framework, containing 5 clusters with associated priority/key results areas, and activities for each, was subsequently moved forward as the starting point for the Day 2 breakouts.

The first half-day covered the GAP mandate, the secretariat’s compilation of decisions and mandates, an overview of the submissions, outputs from the 2 pre-workshop events, and lessons learned from other action plans. This was followed by a facilitated dialogue addressing the Plan’s overall objectives and what success would look like in 2019 (when the LWPG is reviewed). Day 2’s breakouts explored and refined the 5 proposed clusters, priority/key results areas, and draft activities. (On-demand webcasts are available here: 5/10 and 5/11)

SBI47 will consider the outputs of these breakouts in establishing the GAP, when it returns to Bonn in November. To what extent the SBI makes modifications is a big question. One ambitious key result under the Gender balance, participation and women’s leadership cluster calls for reaching 50% representation of women in all Party delegations and constituted bodies under the UNFCCC by 2019.

As pressure grows for more than baby steps, so does the hope for an effective new tool to actually make women’s equal and meaningful participation in the development and implementation of effective climate policy a reality.


Wheels of climate change policy roll on in Bonn

trump+climate+environmentWhile angst about the pending Trump decision on the Paris Agreement (PA) remained a subtext of the annual intersessional climate meetings that wrapped up last week in Bonn, Germany, the technical work trundled on.

More than 3,300 (negotiators, observers [including a VLS delegation], plus secretariat and other agency staff) participated in:

  • the 46th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI),
  • the 3rd part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA1.3),
  • several COP-mandated companion events (e.g., indigenous peoples, climate finance reporting, capacity building), and
  • more than 90 side events.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin gave its usual comprehensive (if dry) lowdown of the meetings. By many reports (here, here, here, and here), the negotiations moved rather smoothly. In particular, positions on APA agenda items got clarified, even though negotiating texts are still out of reach. The APA must deliver a Paris rulebook by December 2018.

Aside from the Trump question, the media coverage (e.g., here, and here) spotlighted the contentious tussle over conflict of interest (read: corporate/fossil fuel industry influence on climate policy). But that shadow side of the SBI’s imperative to “further enhance the effective engagement of non-Party stakeholders,” was not the only thing we watched.

A few of our observations:

  • APA round tables got a thumbs up for the airing and clarifying of views and could speed introduction of “contextual proposals” for PA rulebook pieces. Five will be held ahead of COP23, though observers will be excluded.

  • Parties are determined to understand, manage and capitalize on the linkages between Paris Agreement articles, and between the APA work and PA work of the subsidiary bodies. This is important and rich ground for cohesiveness.
  • More frequent interventions are coming from the new “coalition” of 3
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    Marcia Levaggi, Argentina, speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay (Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth)

    contiguous South American countries – Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. They constitute 3 of the 4 members of Mercosur, the Southern Common Market, which is on track to a free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association. We’ve known them as part of multiple different negotiating groups: G77+China (all 3); Coalition of Rainforest Nations (Argentina, Uruguay); BASIC (Brazil); Like-minded Developing Countries (Argentina); and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). We’ll be keeping an eye on this development.

  • The Long Term Climate Finance workshops (LTF) may catalyze concrete COP consideration of strategies to address the confusing
    3K1A6693

    Breakout during LTF event. (Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth)

    multi-lateral climate finance architecture and developing countries’ challenges in accessing finance. (See the World Resources Institute new pub out on this issue.)

  • The SBSTA’s agriculture agenda item hopped on a rollercoaster, disrupting the 4-year stalemate between developed and developing countries over adaptation vs mitigation. The excitement generated by delegates’ Week 1 mantras (“very substantive dialogue,” “feels like a family”) landed with a thud in the end. No mature elements moved forward to the SBI; nor was an agriculture work programme recommended. We do see slightly positive prospects looking ahead, given the Co-Facilitators’ non-paper. Stay tuned for our deeper dive on this.
  • The Gender Action Plan workshop wasn’t covered by anyone, but you’ll get the in-depth story with our next post.

Next up? Thank you, Carbon Brief, for the chart of steps toward COP23.Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 1.11.43 PM

 


Gender and Climate Change Update

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conducts Swearing-in Ceremony: Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Source: United Nations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conducts Swearing-in Ceremony: Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Source: United Nations

After the United States’ election results, there is a heightened sense of awareness about gender. As mentioned earlier this week, gender and climate change is on the agenda at the COP. After three days of negotiations, the Parties approved a draft decision on gender and climate change, which will be submitted to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) for approval next week.

In the draft decision, the Parties extended the Lima work programme. By doing so, the Parties demonstrated their commitment to continue efforts to increase the participation of women delegates. The program helps female delegates build skills to effectively participate in the UNFCCC process. Extending the Lima work programme shows the world that the UNFCCC is committed to incorporating women’s perspectives in the negotiation process.

During my time at COP 22 I have witnessed first hand the results of these efforts. In the adaptation arena, most of the negotiations I attended had a strong female delegate presence, and all of them had at least one female co-facilitator. Increasing the number of women leading the world on climate change efforts can result in more dynamic decisions and more complete decision-making.

Despite the benefits of having more gender-balanced climate change negotiations, a recent study looking at 881 environment sector ministries from 193 countries found that only 12 percent were women. As the recent election shows, there is still a strong glass ceiling waiting to get shattered in many parts of the world. Without women’s larger participation at the national level, a true balance at the UNFCCC will not be possible. However, for the countries that do have women in higher positions, the concerted effort to bring women to the negotiation table is important.

In all, much work has been done and much is left to do. As long as Parties continue to put gender on the agenda, they will be sending a message to the world that women’s voices are valid and necessary in the fight against climate change.


Finding Balance: the Future of Gender and Climate Change Under the UNFCCC

UN gender photoCOP 22 has commenced! With the ratification of the Paris Agreement (PA) coming less than a year after the adoption of the Agreement (and four years before most Parties thought would be possible!) there is a sense of urgency in the air. Parties are scrambling to develop a framework in which to begin implementing the PA, which also means tight deadlines. Today, during the informal consultation on gender and climate change, Parties were reminded that a draft decision on gender and climate change was needed by 13:00 this Friday at the latest. Fortunately, Costa Rica, on behalf of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), had already drafted a decision. AILAC distributed a draft decision to the Parties, which will be reviewed and discussed in subsequent meetings this week.

Women disproportionately experience the harmful effects of climate change. The majority of the world’s poor are women, and more women rely on climate vulnerable natural resources for their livelihood. Over the past 15 years, UNFCCC Parties have started recognizing the important role women can have in climate negotiations, and the many barriers that prevent them from participating. Since COP 7 in 2001, gender has been formally recognized by the COP. There, Parties approved a decision to improve the participation of women in the representation of Parties in bodies established under the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol. In the following years, negotiation efforts led to a COP 18 decision to promote gender balance and improve the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and bodies. Later at COP 20 in 2014, Parties adopted the Lima work programme on gender. The Lima work programme is a two-year program promoting gender balance and gender-responsive climate policy to help guide the participation of women in UNFCCC bodies. COP 22 marks the end of the Lima work programme, which means that this week Parties will be discussing whether and how to extend the programme.

Lorena Aguilar, Costa Rica, at SB 44 in Bonn. Source: iisd.ca

Lorena Aguilar, Costa Rica, at SB 44 in Bonn. Source: iisd.ca

After brief discussions today, it appears that most Parties support the programme and would like to see the work furthered in some capacity. Parties acknowledged the progress made in working towards gender balance. Malawi, on behalf of the least developed countries (LDCs) negotiating group, recognized the impact the Lima work programme has had in enhancing the understanding and awareness of gender and climate change. In moving forward, inclusivity appears to be a common theme. Several Parties stressed the importance of including women at the local or grassroots level to ensure full participation. Australia made a call for the gender and climate change workstream to expand its focus to observe how gender can be incorporated in other UNFCCC workstreams. Additionally, Zimbabwe addressed the importance of ensuring that all Parties use the same definitions when discussing terms such as gender balance, gender-responsiveness, and gender-inclusiveness.

Despite the progress towards creating a more gender balanced UNFCCC, which ultimately will lead to more gender-inclusive policies, much work remains. In reviewing AILAC’s proposed draft, Parties will discuss what this work should look like in the coming years. It is a particularly exciting time because decisions made this week could effectively influence the outcome of how the Paris Agreement is implemented. The mood is optimistic and Parties appear motivated to continue widening pathways to ensure that all women’s’ voices are heard, particularly the most vulnerable.


Caught on the Front Lines of Climate Change

In an event hosted today by WOCAN (Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management), six inspiring women shared their stories of community, loss, and leadership. The panel was comprised of women from diverse and remote regions of the world, including a Native American of the Ponca Nation, a representative from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a Quechua-speaking native of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and several leaders of global non-profit organizations. All of these women came to COP21 with the same message: the voices of women and indigenous peoples are essential to effectively addressing climate change.

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Panelists at today’s event, Global Women & Indigenous Peoples on the Frontline of Climate Solutions: Forests & Renewable Energy

Each of the panelists shared shockingly similar stories of their lives and their communities, highlighting their plight against the effects of climate change. Most indigenous communities contribute very little to climate change, yet feel the effects far more profoundly than the rest of the world. Women also face disproportionate impacts from climate change, indicating that this group had tremendous insight to offer from both perspectives. They had faced the direct impacts of climate change and had established innovative methods of addressing the associated problems. In the case of the Ponca Nation and the Amazonian natives, both groups are actively opposing resource extraction in their sacred ancestral lands. Women in Colombia are reclaiming land for traditional agricultural practices after years of protests allowed them to begin saving seeds again. Women in the DRC are creating carbon negative local economies by planting trees. By organizing their communities and utilizing traditional and institutional knowledge, they are developing robust, local solutions to climate change.

Nevertheless, a Paris agreement may not address these groups’ needs or their suggestions. There are currently four binding sections of the agreement that reference gender equality or the rights of indigenous people, and two of those references are bracketed. This means that the rights of indigenous people and women may not be adequately addressed in two important parts of the agreement (purpose and finance). Hopefully, this panel discussion, along with the other events associated with Gender Day, will encourage the negotiators to avoid this absurd result.


Celebrating Gender Day at COP21

Today is Gender Day at COP21. In celebration, the Women and Gender Constituency of the UNFCCC recognized the winners of the Gender Just Climate Solutions competition. These winners were celebrated for their great work combating climate change in a “gender-just” manner.

Photo Source: Island Eco

Photo Source: Island Eco

Island Eco from the Marshall Islands won the Technical Climate Solution Award for its work in training young women how to install solar photovoltaic DC refrigeration. Under this project, young rural women learn the electrical and mechanical skills needed to assemble, deliver, and install solar powered lights, refrigerators, and freezers in the Marshall Islands.

Next, the Non-Technical Climate Solution Award was presented to Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice for its efforts to raise awareness on gender integration in climate change adaptation and resiliency building activities in Southern Africa. Gender CC’s project connects women leaders, government officials, and NGOs to local women farmers in order to provide awareness training and capacity building skills concerning the installation of biogas digesters, PVC solar units, and water harvesting tanks.

csm_GenderCC_South_Africa_Workshop_solar_651ba88acb

Photo Source: GenderCC

The final award was presented to Tulele Peisa of Papua New Guinea for its local relocation efforts, that are being led by the Carteret Islanders who face imminent extinction due to climate change impacts and increased numbers of extreme weather events on their home island. This project prepares and provides support to three communities on Bougainville in order to ensure there is adequate land, infrastructure, and economic opportunities for the Carteret Islanders when they choose to voluntarily relocate. The purpose of this project is to ensure that the Carteret culture and society continues to exist even after their home island becomes unlivable.

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Ursula Rakova was called upon by the Carteret Elders to lead Tulle Peisa. She accepted the award on behalf of Tulle Peisa. Photo Source: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Thin Lei Win

Overall, the Gender Just Climate Solution awards highlighted amazing groups led by inspiring women who are all working to ensure that climate change decision making provides equal access for both women and men to effectively participate and address local concerns caused by the effects of a changing climate.


No Climate Justice without Gender Justice

Today at COP21, a focus for at least one of the meetings was how to achieve transformative solutions for both climate and gender justice. The meeting emphasized gender and economic disparities in developing countries and the fact that climate change does not affect men and women on the same level.

222For much of the developing world, climate change is a fact of life. It is difficult to find climate deniers in these areas. In poor, rural areas in Nepal, climate change is already affecting day-to-day life and has become an “issue of survival” according to panelist Alina Saba.There the melting glaciers are making traditional subsistence living almost impossible. Specifically, in these developing parts of the world it is the women who are most vulnerable to climate change while also being the ones most excluded from decision making and most expendable to a world “focused on maximizing profits and consumption.” In much of the world indigenous women are at the front lines of climate change, where they are in charge of producing and gathering food without being able to contribute to decision making processes.

Despite the difficulties facing women in many developing countries, when they are given a seat at the decision-making table women tend to incite real change. For example in Bangladesh salinity and sea level rise has made it nearly impossible for women to grow traditional crops. There, women were at the forefront of an initiative to begin hanging vegetable gardens throughout the country to battle these climate change impacts. The success of this project is evidence that when women are able to come together as an agent for solutions they can help build local movements to tackle large-scale problems.

However, the gender disparities at the climate change forefront are not limited only to those women in rural areas. In cities, where low-carbon lifestyles are more accessible, the increasing complexity of urban systems are also connected with increasing inequalities- including gender inequalities. According to Gotelind Alber of Women for Climate Justice, female-headed households tend to be some of the poorest in urban areas. Additionally, even amongst homes headed by both men and women, there tend to be disparities within the household. Financial inequality is not always homogenous within a household. Often women tend to be worse off with less financial stability and more day-to-day duties. Thus mitigation and adaptation planning in urban areas will require integration of all sectors, and must include gender issues.

The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC), a stakeholder group of the United Nations Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.18.44 PMFramework Convention on Climate Change, works to ensure that women’s voices and rights are embedded in all aspects of the UNFCCC framework and that gender equality and women’s rights are at the center of discussions. At the meeting, Kate Lappin of WGC, discussed climate change issues in a world that devalues women’s unpaid work. She specifically focused on the programs that attempt to redistribute work and build an energy democracy.

The idea behind an energy democracy is that it rejects the idea of net zero emissions on the premise that developed countries have historically contributed too much to global emissions. For example, the United States emits 176 times more carbon per capita than Nepal. Lappin suggests replacing a net zero emissions goal with goals that require zero emissions for developed countries while still requiring them to fulfill their financing obligations to developing countries.

Moving forward, city planning and climate negotiations should include equal participation of women at all levels. Further, negotiations and decisions must lead to modified policies to have a gender responsive climate policy. When women are included in the decision making process, effective change is delivered.


The Secret Weapon Against Climate Change? Family Planning

2_evidencebased_programming_2Family Planning may be the most cost-effective weapon against climate change. At least according to a new report from the University of California, San Francisco’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. According to the report, family planning could provide between 16 and 29 percent of the needed greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Additionally, last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized for the first time the benefits of family planning for impacting climate change. The IPCC report recognized the importance of family planning in areas with a high vulnerability to climate change, including the Sahel region of Africa, as well as in rich countries like the United States. Increasing access to family planning not only helps reduce human suffering, especially in extremely vulnerable areas, but also decreases overall consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

PopulationToday the world population is over 7 billion, a number that is relatively recent in the history of human civilization. Between 1900 and 2000 the world population increased from 1.5 to 6.1 billion. That is, in just 100 years the population increased three times more than it had during the entire history of human kind. The effects of this astounding increase in human beings on the environment is staggering. Increasing populations threaten the survival of plant and animal species around the world, reduce air quality, increase energy demands, effect groundwater and soil health, reduce forests, expand deserts, and increase waste. And these effects will only get worse, as the United Nations predicts that the world population will reach 9.6 billion people by 2050.

According to the report from the Bixby Center, family planning programs are dollar-for-dollar the most effective way to avoid some of the worst impacts from climate change. There are currently 222 million women in the world with an unmet need for modern family planning methods. To meet this demand for family planning it will take $9.4 billion a year, an increase from current family planning spending by about $5.3 billion a year. Despite this high dollar value, family planning spending is still a relatively cheap option. According to the report, “For every $7 spent of family planning, carbon emissions would be reduced more than [one metric ton]… the same emissions reductions from low-carbon energy production technologies would cost at least $32.”

MTI5NTI2Mzc5NzgyOTE2MTA2Despite the cost-effectiveness, family planning still remains a contentious issue. But things may be looking up. As part of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) countries must consider their population size and its potential growth in order to envision how per capita emissions may change in the future. The new UNFCCC synthesis report of INDCs takes into account different population growth scenarios for the next fifteen years, and suggests that some governments may not be using the best population data for calculating business as usual emissions scenarios. Additionally, in the report some governments state that population density and growth within their countries remains a constraint on their ability to adapt to climate change.

What this means is that family planning is necessary. Not only is it necessary on a human level (family planning is one of the best ways to improve education and quality of life for women around the globe), it remains one of the most effective tools at our disposal for combatting climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Role of Gender in Climate Politics

Climate change is proven – the vast majority of the scientific community, along with many major businesses and nearly every major insurance provider, all agree that climate change is having real impacts on the world today. Most also believe that those impacts are the result of anthropogenic activity. However, the facts about climate change are not being translated into political action. This is in large part because the facts are not driving the discussion.

Despite the fact that the latest IPCC report states that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” and that “human influence on the climate system is clear,” somehow 18% of the US population still does not believe global warming is occurring, and 35% does not believe that it is caused by human activity. Even worse, the 114th Congress includes 162 climate deniers (approximately 30% of Congress) with only eight states represented exclusively by individuals who believe that addressing climate change is a priority.

Sen. James Inhofe

Sen. James Inhofe

Who are all of these climate deniers? Many Americans, if asked to picture a climate denier, would likely picture a figure like Rush Limbaugh or Senator James Inhofe. It turns out that there is more to this assumption than mere stereotyping. Several studies have been published over the past five years, building on existing bodies of research, which all indicate that climate skeptics are most likely to be white, conservative men. I took a closer look at three psychology and sociology studies from three different continents, all of which came to this same conclusion.

A study out of Cardiff University indicated that men are more skeptical of climate change than women, and that “political affiliation is a strong determinant of skepticism, with Conservative voters amongst the most skeptical.” An American study out of Michigan State University was one of the first to explicitly categorize “conservative white males” as the most skeptical of climate change. This study went a step further to analyze conservative white men who self-reported an above average understanding of global warming (considered “confident conservative white men”). By isolating these individuals, the study found that 48.4% of confident conservative white men believe the effects of global warming will never happen, compared to only 8.6% of all other respondents. Additionally, it found that while 71.6% of confident conservative white men believed that recent temperature increases are not primarily due to human activities, only 34.2% of all other respondents feel that way. Finally, a 2015 study published in the New Zealand Journal of Psychology supported and extended the “conservative white male” effect based on a sample of over 6,000 New Zealanders. This study confirmed that conservative white males (along with older individuals with high levels of socioeconomic status and less education) are disproportionately more likely to be skeptical of the reality of climate change and its anthropogenic cause.

These studies essentially just prove what most of us already knew or assumed. But the impact of the “conservative white man” syndrome is significant. Not only do the studies provide scientific evidence that conservative white men are the least likely to take action on climate change, it also indicates that “beliefs about climate change are fundamentally linked to existing values and worldviews,” and “are not a result of knowledge deficit or misunderstanding.” In other words, they are also least likely to be swayed by the overwhelming scientific consensus or by the urgency of environmental advocates.

Ms. Usha Nair, representative of the global south and current Co-Focal Point of the Women and Gender Constituency stakeholder group

Ms. Usha Nair, representative of the global south and current Co-Focal Point of the Women and Gender Constituency stakeholder group

None of this would matter so much if it were not for the fact that political decisions related to climate change are predominantly made by men. The UNFCCC Conference of the Parties is actually mandated to “improve the participation of women in bodies established under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol.” However, progress is slow, and the involvement of women in recent Conferences of the Parties has been limited. Women only represented 36% of the Party delegates to COP20 last year, and only represented 26% of the heads of Party delegations. This year, women represent only 25% of the members of constituted bodies (which is a ~3% decline from last year) and represent only 23% of the regional groups and other Party groupings.

Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other Senate republicans

Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other Senate republicans

Even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the Conference of the Parties and assume that the participants in the process are all committed to combating climate change, any international agreement that the Parties sign must still be approved by two thirds of the United States Senate for it to become legally binding on the U.S. (although there are alternative mechanisms for the country to deposit its “instrument of ratification” with the UNFCCC). At least one source indicates that 32% of the current Senators are climate deniers, creating a very narrow margin for the 66% approval of any international climate change agreement. The fact that the whole of the U.S. Senate is currently 54% republican, 94% white, and 80% male does not lend hope to the cause.

Now, none of this is to say that every climate denier is a conservative white male, nor is it to say that all conservative white males are climate deniers. It is my ardent hope that the current United States senators (republican, democrat, Caucasian, minority, male, and female alike) will vote to approve the agreement reached at Paris this year. But if they do not, it might be an additional incentive to diversify our elected officials.