FOKUS’ COP27 takeaways: Finally some climate justice, but little progress on gender justice
FOKUS has closely followed the proceedings and outcomes of COP27 in Egypt, hoping for progress on women’s rights and gender equality in measures to combat climate change. Here are our perspectives on these outcomes, especially the provisions that made it into the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, and on Norway’s role during this crucial meeting.
Publisert: 2022-11-29 Redigert: 2022-11-29
In short, FOKUS agrees with the Women and Gender Constituency , which is one of the official stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that these outcomes fell significantly short of what was urgently needed.
Stalled progress on the Gender Action Plan
In week one, the Parties reviewed progress on the implementation of the Enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG) and its Gender Action Plan (GAP). What we hoped for was transformative progress on the activities, responsibilities, and the deliverables/outputs of the GAP, including a strategy for mobilizing technical and financial resources. FOKUS is particularly concerned with strengthening the skills and building the capacities of national gender and climate change focal points, especially those in developing country Parties. What we got, however, was “weak, intangible, eleventh-hour GAP decision that merely sought to tick the box of arriving at an outcome,” as Zainab Yunusa, a climate change and development activist from Nigeria, said.
The only real progress on the GAP that appears in Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, which is the draft decision of COP27, is the invitation for “Parties to provide support to developing countries for undertaking gender-related action and implementing the gender action plan.” On one hand, this acknowledges the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities as well as the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls in the Global South. On the other hand, this fails to substantively enhance the implementation of the GAP or deliver adequate funding for its implementation.
The present-day discourse surrounding gender-just climate action makes this outcome even more frustrating. More and more often, world leaders are emphasizing the importance of addressing gender issues in their speeches and events. And yet, they continue to quarrel about and chip away at financial support for GAP implementation, as they have since the first GAP was established in 2017.
We are halfway through the current GAP, and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation will undertake the final review of this GAP in 2024 during COP29. FOKUS recognizes the futility of establishing more ambitious objectives when Parties are unlikely to meet the current ones. That is exactly why scaling up the implementation of the current GAP is so important.
Breakthroughs on loss and damage and human rights
Thanks to the decades-long, relentless activism of youth and frontline organizations in the Global South, a loss and damage fund was finally established. This should allow the most-affected countries and communities to deal with climate impacts, such as floods, forest fires, and droughts. Civil society organizations have celebrated this outcome while also pointing out the bigger picture. “At the end of this climate conference, there is a small band-aid stuck to a huge gaping wound,” said Martin Kaiser, the executive director of Greenpeace Germany. FOKUS is eager for the swift operationalization of the fund, including provisions on equal access and positive outcomes for women and girls, as well as Norway’s first pledge to the fund.
Furthermore, the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan is the first multilateral environmental agreement at the international level to explicitly reference the human right  to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. FOKUS hopes that this serves as a catalyst not only for rights-based environmental governance but also for systems change to overhaul discriminatory structures that harm women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental degradation, and climate-induced disasters.
Failures on substance, mitigation, and participation
The preamble of the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan contains the usual non-binding references to “gender equality” and “the empowerment of women.” The main provisions on women’s rights and gender equality are included under “Action by non-Party stakeholders,” also with the usual references to women’s participation and gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation.
What is missing is the prioritization of gender considerations – or gender considerations at all – outside of “Action by non-Party stakeholders.” Most importantly, the “Finance” section does not reference women’s rights and gender equality despite the fact that Sima Bahous, the Executive Director  of UN Women, called on Parties ahead of COP27 to address inequalities related to “access to and control of productive resources such as finance” and for “decisions on global investments” to “amplify and foster women’s skills, resilience and knowledge” and “remove critical barriers for women and put protections in place.”
While FOKUS realizes that the policies and guidelines of the facility and funds under the UNFCCC financial mechanism and of multilateral development banks and international financing institutions include provisions on gender-responsiveness, the aforementioned inequalities remain. That is why it is so important to reaffirm and scale up commitments to gender equality in high-level documents, like the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan.
Moreover, many youth and climate activists and organizations have highlighted COP27’s devastating shortcomings on mitigation measures. FOKUS is particularly concerned about the lack of attention to the impact of burning oil, gas, and coal on women and girls, especially those in the Global South. This regards local environmental degradation for women and girls living near extractive operations as well as global climate impacts caused by fossil fuel emissions.
It is relevant to note here that, during the negotiations, Norway supported the phase out of phase out all fossil energy sources without carbon capture and storage. This language did not make it into the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, but we hope it is a sign that Norway intends to more seriously consider the impact of burning oil and gas produced in and by Norway on women and girls, both in Norway and abroad.
This would follow with the recommendations put forth by Matilde Angeltveit , Norway’s youth delegate to the UNFCCC, during the side event “Nordic & African Leaders: Why Gender is Key to the Green Transition” hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Specifically, she recommended conducting gender impact assessments of energy policy as well as human rights due diligence of business activities in the extractives sector. The latter is especially important for companies that are partly owned by the Norwegian state.
Finally, we are still not seeing women's full, equal, and meaningful participation and leadership in UNFCCC processes. Many news media outlets, UN agencies, and civil society organizations have noted that, out of the 110 heads of state who attended COP27, seven were women. Furthermore, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization  found that, for COP26 last year, only 38 percent of national delegations were women, and 13 percent of heads of delegations were women. For COP27 this year, nearly 58 percent of the Norwegian delegation  were women. FOKUS hopes that this will become the norm for more Parties and that, going forward, Norway will allocate at least one of its badges to a representative from feminist and women’s organizations.
FOKUS hopes that that Norway will bring the ambitious stance it displayed during COP27 home. This includes increasing support for the national gender and climate change focal point and following up on “A Green and Gender-Equal Nordic Region – Commitment by the Nordic Council of Ministers under Generation Equality's Action Coalition: Feminist Action for Climate Justice.” Equally as important, it includes scaling up domestic mitigation and adaption measures to seize the “brief and rapidly closing window  of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”