Gender and Climate Change Activities @ COP19 - Warsaw 2013

From the perspective of the gender and climate change community, COP19 got off to a fairly good start, with the first ever UNFCCC in-session workshop on gender and climate change and the annual Gender Day. While the draft conclusions adopted by the SBI on gender and climate change suggest that progress has been made – at least towards achieving a 'gender balance' within the UNFCCC – a more cynical observer of the events at Warsaw might express the concern that this small victory served to draw the attention away from the incremental lack of progress made in other areas, such as in Loss and Damage, or Climate Finance.

"Polluters talk - we walk" - civil society organizations walk out of COP19

One day before the end of COP19 GenderCC and all other members of the Women and Gender Constituency joined other civil society organizations and walked out of the conference building in protest of the lack of ambition of the negotiations and in solidarity with all people already affected by climate change. Even though we were pleased to see some progress on gender issues during COP19, gender-sensitive climate policy is of no use if there is no ambitious climate policy at all.

Side Events at the Gender Day

Gender and Climate Change: Vision 50/50 by the Climate Secretariat

This event hosted by Ms Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, seeked to bring together influential leaders with the goal of visioning a way forward to a sustainable future and facilitating a discussion on the vital role of women in mobilizing for change.

Momentum for Change. Women for Results

The Momentum for Change 2013 Lighthouse Activities under the Women for Results pillar gave technical presentations on each of their activities.

Women’s Carbon Standard: Supporting Women's Empowerment through Climate Mitigation Projects by WOCAN

WOCAN developed the Women's Carbon Standard (WCS) to guide carbon projects to provide benefits to women's groups through 6 domains of income and assets, time, health, education, leadership and food security. Carbon project developers discussed how the WCS will contribute to project effectiveness and gender equality.

Gender at work: points and perspectives toward a gender-responsive and transformative climate policy

This side event was co-hosted by GenderCC, GGCA, LIFE e.V., UN WOMEN and WEDO. Speakers included Anna Sverrisdottir from Iceland, Verona Collantes from UN WOMEN, Sébastien Duyck from the University of Lapland, Bridget Burns from WEDO, Sharmind Neelormi from Bangladesh, Jorge Villareal from Mexico and Ben Karmohr from Liberia.

Climate Finance and Gender Equality: Lessons for Sustainable Development by GGCA, WEDO and WECF

Lessons learned from case studies on mainstreaming gender equality in climate financed mitigation projects were presented in order to spark a discussion on understanding how integrating gender equality in safe, low carbon development can impact the formulation of future sustainable development goals.

In-Session Workshop on "Gender and Climate Change"

The Parties had requested the Climate Secretariat to organize an in-session workshop on Gender and Climate Change. The aim of this in-session workshop was to identify action and tools that could be utilised or enhanced at an international and national level to achieve the goals of gender balance under the UNFCCC, and more effective and informed gender-sensitive climate policy.

Further information and the agenda of the workshop are available on the UNFCCC website.

The recommendations of this workshop and the submissions to the Climate Secretariat by Parties and observer organizations on the issue of Gender and Climate Change were discussed in a contact group and in informal meetings. Results of these debates were presented in the SBI Chairs conclusions on gender and climate and adopted in the SBI closing session.


Two interventions were held on behalf of the Women and Gender Constituency: At the opening session of the ADP Gertrude Kenyangi from Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment held an intervention urging parties to make progress towards an international agreement that maximizes our response to climate change and is being inclusive to woman and girls and safeguardes human rights. The second intervention was held by Ulrike Röhr (LIFE e.V.) in the closing session. She welcomed the achieved results concerning the integration of gender, but called to the delegated mind that gender cannot be mainstreamed into a zero-outcome.

Testimonies of the GenderCC team on COP19 in Warsaw

Trish Glazebrook, GenderCC board member (USA):
"I had several expectations from the COP, such as to connect strongly with the women's caucus, meeting with the GenderCC and get some business done, but I was also hoping that the high level would try to make some progress. Now I feel like we are actually going backwards and that the gender decision has been turned into a joke, which doesn't actually have anything to do with the concrete agreement that we are supposed to be ironing out. I also think Paris is becoming an excuse to not actually do something now. The system is desperately broken and my only comfort is that there are states, municipalities and different organisations that are working really hard on this."

Nicky Broeckhoven, GenderCC member (Belgium):
"I was already pretty disappointed with the process after being at the intersessionals in Bonn but the reason for me to come to Warsaw was more seeing what civil society organisations are doing and how they putting pressure on governments and delegates. I also feel that from the side events there is a lot of things going on at the national at the local level and that the things that are going on there are much more important than the negotiations. I will keep following the process, because I think it is really important for women and gender organisations to be involved."

Kuini Rabo, SPC, GenderCC project partner (Fiji):
"It was nice to be here but I actually prefer working locally because I really see the benefits for the community. Capacity building, as through the ICI project (International Climate Initiative, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety), is really important as it gives people training and tools to adapt to the influence of climate change, in a positive way, together with applying peoples traditional knowledge."

Yvette Abrahams, GenderCC member (South Africa):
"This is my third COP and somehow it is a very disappointing process, with parties playing power games in the face of severe planetary disturbance. On the other hand this is the only global process we have, so I continually come to the COP being conflicted. The thing I always like about it is that civil society organisations from different localities are able to come together. The fact that something someone is doing in Berlin matters to what another one does in Fiji, and also matters to what I am doing in Cape Town. That side of COP is never disappointing! The official talks this time appear to be more than the ordinary ineffective COP and all I can say is if this is the best we can do in the global process, then there is every reason to quietly sit and cry."

Patricia Bohland, former intern (Germany):
"I think process really has to more strongly engage the civil society because in Copenhagen there was really the expectation that there will be an agreement and change but nothing has really progressed. We have to get activated again and engage and put pressure on governments."