Gender and Climate Change Activities from COP3 in Kyoto to COP8 in New Delhi

After the remarkable beginning at COP1 in Berlin, it took several years until women and gender-related perspectives were once again strongly present and acknowledged in the context of the UNFCCC. 

COP3 Kyoto 1997: Missing women's organisations?

Records suggest that there were some women's activities and position papers distributed at COP3 in Kyoto, although these are no longer available. Indeed, there was an email send out by an Australian participant asking why women's organisations were not more strongly present at COP3 and why they did not take more notice the conference. Partly answering the question herself, she wrote: "The arguments used here are almost entirely economic. Decisions are made mostly with little consideration being given to survival. Perhaps women felt they could not penetrate this masculine perspective – and stayed at home".

COP6 The Hague 2000: Role of women in the negotiations

At COP6 in The Hague a side-event was announced by the Dutch organisation Business and Professional Women titled "The Power of Feminine Values in Climate Change." Banished to the back corner of the exhibition hall outside of the conference centre, there was little opportunity to draw attention to the issues.

Yet by the same token, during COP6 a number of statements were published in the daily newsletters of the NGO community (e.g. The Earth Times, Equity Watch, ECO, ENB) bemoaning the low participation of women – even though COP6 actually had the highest share of women at a UNFCCC climate conference until then – and highlighting the important role of women in international negotiations.

COP7 Marrakech 2001: Call for nomination of women

The COP7 resolution in Marrakech officially mentiones women for the very first time in the UNFCCC framework. Decision FCCC/CP/2001/13/add.4 (2001), proposed by Samoa and supported by Russia and the EU, calls for more nominations of women to bodies under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. It also tasks the Climate Secretariat with monitoring the gender composition of these bodies and with bringing the results to the attention of the Parties.

COP8 New Delhi 2002: First side event on gender

The first official side event on gender and climate change took place at COP8. It was organised by ENDA Tiers Monde and IRADe (Integrated Research for Action and Development) and was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The event, titled "Is the Gender Dimension of the Climate Debate Forgotten? Engendering the Climate Debate: Vulnerability, Adaptation, Mitigation and Financial Mechanisms", was very well recognised and attended.

In the discussion several recommendations for mainstreaming Gender into the UNFCCC process were developed. These recommendations were:

  • Climate change related bodies like the IPCC, SBSTA and especially SBI need gender-balanced participation and should integrate gender aspects. A special report could be commissioned so that more information and analysis is generated.
  • All future COPs should have gender-specific events.
  • The UNFCCC should also ensure gender is addressed in CDM projects, technology transfer, capacity building and other initiatives.

Take a look at the report on the side event  and the presentation by Fatima Denton on "Mainstreaming gender in climate change".