Climate justice requires women’s leadership | Reviews | Eco-Enterprise
The world is well aware that the climate crisis is one of the main obstacles to sustainable development. And yet, despite the dramatic evidence of the deadly consequences of climate change, and despite possessing the knowledge, technologies and resources to address them, we continue on the same high-carbon path that threatens our survival.
We also know that climate stabilization depends on a whole-of-society response, and therefore on the equal and equitable participation of all citizens in governance. That hasn’t happened either: women have been underrepresented in climate decision-making. And while this trend has slowly reversed, much more needs to be done to advance a gender-responsive response to climate change. Three imperatives emerge: women’s leadership, indigenous rights and education.
Efforts to improve gender parity in climate governance have been ongoing for almost a decade. In 2014, COP20 delegates adopted the Lima work program on gender to encourage the inclusion of more women in climate change negotiations. But five years later, at COP25 in Madrid, 60% of government delegates and 73% of heads and deputy heads of delegations were men.
This imbalance led to the adoption of the enhanced Lima work program and gender action plan. As part of the enhanced plan, parties to the global climate talks have committed to nominate and provide support to national gender and climate change focal points for the climate negotiations, as well as for the implementation and project monitoring. Despite this, from 2019 to 2021, women held only 33% of all leadership positions in climate change negotiations and expert mechanisms.
But efforts to include women in these discussions continue. The final agreement released at the close of last November’s COP26 in Glasgow included gender equality and women’s leadership as central elements of climate policy and action strategies. This represents a clear recognition that the transition to net zero will only be possible through active citizenship, with women playing a vital role.
Women are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, but they are also important agents of change. Giving women a seat at the decision-making table and using a gender perspective to shape low-carbon development strategies will go a long way to advancing climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
The transition to carbon neutrality requires a radical change in production systems and consumption patterns in all sectors. Women must be part of the process of developing effective policies. The task is difficult, but there are examples to follow.
Much more needs to be done to advance a gender responsive response to climate change. Three imperatives emerge: women’s leadership, indigenous rights and education.
Costa Rica, for its part, has clearly paved the way to net zero carbon dioxide emissions. As of 2014, more than 98% of the energy produced in Costa Rica comes from renewable sources. And in 2021, the country received the Earthshot Prize for its conservation model, whereby local citizens are paid to preserve and restore natural ecosystems, including rainforests. Costa Rica’s success can be attributed in large part to its citizens’ commitment to sustainable development and the involvement of indigenous and rural women in climate adaptation, knowledge generation and capacity building efforts. resilience.
Indigenous and rural women in particular are the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation. The inclusion of these women in the creation of sustainable practices is therefore essential to ensure the effectiveness of climate-related decisions. Initiatives such as the Club of Madrid’s Shared Societies approach emphasize that indigenous communities have the right to be involved in these discussions and recognize that local communities are more likely to support and implement conservation plans when ‘they are fully invested in their development.
Education is also a crucial part of inclusive climate decision-making. In 2021, UNESCO called for environmental education to be a basic component of the curriculum in all countries by 2025. The Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development states that the Environmental education must be accessible to girls and boys from an early age to ensure that future generations have sufficient knowledge to respond to climate change. Emphasizing gender equality and non-discrimination in access to climate knowledge and skills will strengthen young people’s capacity to effect change.
The recent all-male CEO Luncheon held at the Munich Security Conference shows that women are still absent from the highest levels of global decision-making. Yet women’s leadership is needed to respond effectively to shared global challenges. Without the active and meaningful participation of women and girls in local, national and global climate strategies, a carbon neutral future will remain out of reach.
Laura Chinchilla is the vice-president of the Club de Madrid, a forum of former world leaders from democratic nations. She is a former president of Costa Rica. María Fernanda Espinosa is a member of the multilateralism and gender equality advocacy group, GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion. She is also a member of the Robert Bosch Academy and served as President of the United Nations General Assembly.
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