Gender Balance and Climate Change Inextricably Linked 

In an address to the Global Peace and Prosperity Forum, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa underlined the crucial role of women in tackling climate change and the need for gender balance in the international climate change process.

While humanity has made considerable progress towards international peace and prosperity, the world still faces major challenges, not least addressing rapidly advancing climate change, which the UN Climate Chief called “an existential emergency unprecedented in modern times.”

Describing climate change and gender equality as being “inextricably linked,” she stressed the need to address both holistically.

 “Half-measures will not help us deal with climate change, nor will only including half the global population,” she said.

The science clearly lays out the goals the international community must achieve to tackle the climate crisis: Reduce emissions by 45% by the end of this decade; achieve climate neutrality by mid-century; and limit global temperature rise to 1.5C by the end of the century. 

To help meet these goals, Ms. Espinosa called for greater representation of women in leadership at all levels in both the private and public sector.

The UN Climate Change process is country-driven and countries themselves decide who is represented in their national delegation. 

Governments adopted a goal of gender balance in national delegations and in national climate policy and action in 2012, yet while some progress has been made, it falls far short of reaching the target set.

This under-representation of women often reflects what is happening at national and local levels. Ms. Espinosa said it was now time for countries to explain exactly how they seek to achieve gender parity in local, national and international climate policy and decision-making roles.

“We have got to get beyond these very general statements that they will “continue to strive for equal representation” and see more “here’s exactly how we will achieve it and here’s when,” Ms. Espinosa said.

On a positive note, she highlighted that there have been some success stories and urged the international community to seek inspiration from  best practices in other sectors, countries or businesses where gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment has advanced and concrete measures have been put in place. 

These include a written policy, formal targets or quotas, and performance indicators for senior leaders.

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