While getting ready for COP25, ECO was energized by the upcoming discussions on the review and renewal of the Lima Work Programme on Gender and its Gender Action Plan. Why? Because if there is one thing you don’t need to argue for it is that fighting for gender justice and climate justice are two sides of the same coin. So, ECO expected to see Parties ready to aim higher, building on the work achieved over the past few years to advance the centrality of gender equality to the UNFCCC and climate action.
Alas, on Tuesday, ECO learnt the hard way that nothing should ever be taken for granted ⎯ not even the opening statements from the Paris Agreement! Yes, you read that right. Among the 196 Parties who four years ago committed to “respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, (..) as well as gender equality, empowerment of women” when taking action to address climate change, some now have second thoughts and have bracketed such references in the draft decision text proposed by the co-facilitators. Are we really here to renegotiate the principles of the Paris Agreement? No - ECO doesn’t think so.
ECO urges Parties to think twice before going into the nitty gritty line-by-line negotiations of the text – and instead articulate a vision about what it is that we want to achieve with this updated gender framework and how. Who are the Lima Work Programme on Gender and Gender Action Plan for? Will it set meaningful goals to measure progress? Will it work to move us towards 'action'?
The COP25 venue is filled with gender experts, both from Parties and civil society organizations. They are people with experience and ideas on how to mainstream gender in national climate action plans. They are people who know how to improve the access of women’s organizations to climate finance. People with the knowledge to ensure that women – including Indigenous women - contribute to climate decision-making at local, national and international levels. ECO sees a great potential for joint work with the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform on this issue.
Half-way through the week, ECO is convinced that Parties can pull this off. But it requires them to put the interest of billions of women who are not at the COP venue at the centre of the negotiations. Time for them to show they are ready to #ActOntheGap!