Women as Emerging Stakeholders in Poznan Climate Change Negotiations

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2009-02-11 00:04:32 / News read 1803 reading

In climate change negotiations in Poznań, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations and Heinrich Böll Foundation North America made the first global effort to ensure that climate change funds target women and men equitably.

The Gender and Climate Change Finance Workshop, organized in November 2008 in New York, brought together climate change experts, governments, UN agencies, and civil society organizations from around the world to develop gender-based guidelines for climate change finance decision-makers. The workshop was organized in response to the fact that climate change finance mechanisms have had limited benefit for the poor and disadvantaged within developing countries, in particular women, who are emerging stakeholders in upcoming climate change negotiations.

The impacts of climate change will be differently distributed across various populations, and this is particularly true among poor women and men in developing countries.  Women make up the majority of fatalities in natural disasters.[1] This is due to the fact that women are more vulnerable to climate change disasters due to their limited access to resources and decision-making. Women throughout the world have an important role to play in taking action on climate change, as leaders in community natural resource management, catalysts of change, innovators, farmers and caretakers of families. Given their limited access to capital, markets, and technology, women tend to be among the groups least considered by modern financial mechanisms.

The climate change convention is the only major environmental agreement emerging from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit that does not address gender inequalities.  This gap has translated into the fact that none of the existing climate change finance mechanisms respond to the specific needs of women, for example the climate change convention’s carbon trading mechanism - the Clean Development Mechanism - or the Adaptation Fund.

There is a need for governments to support positive actions to compensate for the asymmetry in finance provision relative to need. This would include quotas for women’s leadership and capacity development, which can ensure that women have access to finance and have the opportunity to develop their innovations and businesses related to climate change solutions. Given that women are important agents of economic dynamism at the local and household levels, including their voices in decision-making and considering their needs would thus boost the effectiveness of climate change financing.

“As women have specialized skills, they can offer invaluable contributions to improve our current climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. To harness this largely untapped knowledge and expertise, we must develop national capacity to include women in decision-making stages of policy development on climate change response,” said Winnie Byanyima, Director of UNDP's Gender Team.

“Climate responses should be an integral part of all economic development and poverty eradication efforts. The present economic crisis should not lead to decreasing climate investments of development cooperation.  Increasing development cooperation will be necessary for assisting developing countries in combating climate change,” said Aira Kalela, Special Representative on Climate Change and Gender of Finland. She stated that “the empowerment of women in climate activities will be indispensable in making climate change funds more effective at the local level.”

The Global Gender and Climate Alliance will use the guidelines that emerge from the workshop to ensure that negotiations at the 14th Conference of Parties (COP-14) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change address the needs of both women and men.  These efforts will complement the GGCA’s orientation on gender and climate change for UNFCCC delegates at COP-14.

About UNDP:  UNDP is the UN's global development network, helping people meet their needs and build a better life. UNDP is on the ground in 166 countries, working as a trusted partner with governments, civil society and the private sector to help them find solutions to global and national development challenges.

About GGCA: The Global Gender and Climate Alliance is a joint initiative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), along with 25 other UN and civil society partners.  The goal of the GGCA is to ensure that climate change initiatives and decision-making at all levels is responsive to the needs of both women and men.
[1] Neumayer, Eric. Gendered Nature of Natural Disasters: the impact of catastrophic events on the gender gap in life expectancy, 1981-2002, London School of Economics, 2006.

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