The number of women in leadership positions in the global climate change negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), such as presiding officers, co-chairs and co-facilitators of contact groups, or chairs and vice-chairs of constituted bodies, continues to lag behind considerably compared to the number of men in such positions. The ratio of women in the overall composition of these bodies also remains low.
Although the situation is slowly improving, progress is slow and fragile. The 2020 gender composition report prepared by the UNFCCC Secretariat noted that the trend towards more gender-balanced bodies that was reported in 2018 reversed in 2019 and 2020.
In 2021, the representation of women increased in four constituted bodies, decreased in four and remained unchanged in eight. Three constituted bodies reported having achieved the goal of gender balance compared with two in 2020. Of these three constituted bodies, two reported equal representation of women and men (both 50 per cent) and the other reported female representation of 63 per cent. On average, female members of constituted bodies occupied 33% of all the positions in a body in 2021, as in 2020. There are certain bodies where women participation is even lower, such as the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board and the Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (see Table 1 below).
Recognising this imbalance, UNFCCC Decisions 21/CP.22 and 3/CP.23, the COP noted the urgent need to improve the representation of women in all bodies established under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. A key priority of the 2019 Gender Action Plan (Decision 3/CP.25) is also to “achieve and sustain the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in the UNFCCC process“.
However, there are currently few regular opportunities for women negotiators holding leadership positions in the UNFCCC process to meet to exchange knowledge and experiences; support each other; and work with other women negotiators in the process to achieve gender balance in the leadership and overall composition of UNFCCC bodies.
The Women Leaders Network of the UNFCCC aims to provide such opportunities. Networks are an important tool to support career development through the sharing of knowledge and experience. They can create and foster a sense of belonging; serve as a support system to bolster confidence and help with problem solving; and provide encouragement to women negotiators to take on positions of leadership.
The Network provides opportunities for women negotiators holding leadership positions in the UNFCCC process to meet and exchange knowledge and experiences; support each other; and work with other women negotiators in the process to achieve gender balance in the leadership and overall composition of UNFCCC bodies. Network members also mentor female negotiators from developing countries.
In future, we will explore ways in which women negotiators can contribute to progress in the negotiations, and support implementation of climate policies on the ground.
GOALS OF THE NETWORK
The Senior Women Negotiators’ Network was launched by the COP25 Presidency and the Chair and Rapporteur of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Madrid in 2019. The Network, which is currently in a formative stage under the leadership of three senior women leaders in the UNFCCC process, aims to:
- Provide a platform for regular interaction among women in leadership positions in the UNFCCC, for purposeful networking and peer-to-peer exchange.
- Create a support system for women in leadership positions in the UNFCCC process.
- Support the career development of women negotiators, through the sharing of knowledge and experience.
- Provide a space to mentor women at different stages of their career.
- Review progress in achieving balance in the gender composition of UNFCCC bodies, including in leadership positions, and identify ways to further gender balance.
- Seeking innovative ways in which women can advance progress in achieving the overall goals of the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement.
- Engage in concrete opportunities outside the UNFCCC process to demonstrate female leadership at the UNFCCC.
MEMBERSHIP OF THE NETWORK
Women in leadership positions in the UNFCCC process, such as current and former presiding officers: co-chairs and c-facilitators of contact groups, and co- and vice-chairs of constituted bodies.
Table 1: Gender composition of constituted bodies established under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement in 2021
|Body||Total members||Female Chair or Co/Vice-Chair||Number of female members||Number of male members||Female representation (%)||Change in number of women since 2020 (%)|
|Compliance Committee enforcement branch||10||0/0||2||7||20||0|
|Compliance Committee facilitative branch||10||0/0||3||6||30||0|
|CTCN Advisory Board||16||1/0||5||10||33||8|