“National strategies for addressing climate change can only succeed with the full engagement of the general public and important interest groups”. The UNFCCC, in Article 6, states that all Parties to the Convention are required to communicate effects and dynamics of climate change at all levels. Parties are called upon to develop and implement public awareness programmes, provide public access to information, initiate participatory processes to develop responses to climate change, train relevant staff on climate change and cooperate at the international level. The Kyoto Protocol underlines the importance of public awareness and public access to information on climate change in Article 10.
During negotiations, these issues are often side-lined, since they are not as controversial as other items on the agenda. At COP 8 2002 in New Dehli, a five-year work programme on Article 6 was adopted, which has since been amended and extended. It is now called Doha Work Programme.
Amendments include minor additions on public access to information and public participation.
While gender is not mentioned in the programme, a number of successive workshops have been conducted during the SBI in Bonn, where representatives of Parties and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations shared experiences and exchanged ideas, good practices and lessons learned regarding climate change education and training, and international cooperation on these matters. Some inputs were given relating to gender.
Furthermore, a number of regional workshops have been conducted to assess needs, identify priorities and share experiences. In the reports, there is some reference to gender, in particular in the report on the European workshop in 2009, based on inputs by GenderCC.
The next review of the current Doha Work Programme on Article 6 is scheduled for 2016.
Women and men communicate differently, prefer different communication channels and respond differently, due to gendered social roles, identities, attitudes and skills, embedded in cultural contexts. No form of communication is gender ‘neutral’; if gender differences are neglected, this may lead to the exclusion of women from communication processes or, at the very least, result in less effective communication. As communication is key to awareness raising, to access to information and participation in education and training, gender dimensions are relevant for all areas covered by the work programme on Article 6 of the Convention.
Differences in education must also be taken into consideration. Illiteracy is still common in the developing world, and in some countries, illiteracy of women is double that of men. In some of the LDCs, 80 percent of women are illiterate. These women are likely to be among the most vulnerable groups, as they are often among the poorest members of the population. They are therefore a crucial target group for information on expected climate variability and adaptation strategies.
Moreover, the need for information may differ between women and men. For instance, according to various European studies, women show a stronger demand for practical information on how to combat climate change, and the gap between knowledge and implementation is smaller for women than for men. However, communication on behavioural changes related to climate change and sustainability should not only address women. Men also need specific information and specific approaches, e.g. to motivate them to use less carbon intensive modes of transport (e.g. switching from individual cars to public transport), as car use patterns are closely linked to lifestyle and self-image.
Furthermore, the participation of women in training and outreach activities needs to be ensured: in terms of formal representation, in political processes and in participatory processes at community level.
Gender-sensitive communication is important in order to reach out effectively to both women and men. It takes into account their different roles, attitudes, preferences, and skills and contributes to overcoming gender inequality. This is crucial for the communication and learning processes mentioned in Article 6 of the UNFCCC. Gender and other social aspects should therefore be included throughout all steps of planning and implementation.
In order to communicate in a gender sensitive way, awareness of 'gender' as a social category is essential. Gender differences should be considered without reproducing and further cementing stereotypes. Gender-sensitive communication is based on the idea of gender justice and is geared toward generating and promoting equal opportunities.
Gender-sensitive communication includes considering the contents and topics that are communicated, the use of appropriate media and communication channels, gender-sensitive and inclusive language, and design and visual elements.
As for public participation, equal participation of women and men needs to be ensured; not only in terms of proportional representation, but also in terms of how, and to what degree, women and men can meaningfully participate; for example which questions are raised and how they are explained, and how women and men can contribute to the discourse.