Statement by UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the adoption of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The historic Paris Agreement adopted by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 12 December provides the long-awaited accord to ‘strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change’. Women and girls are differentially and disproportionately affected by climate change impacts including by extreme and erratic weather events in critical ways – in their access to and use of water and energy, their food security, livelihoods, and opportunities for education, decent work and a healthy life.
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover many crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark commitment, and oblige all countries to respect its provisions: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the 2°C pathway; a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening the ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening the ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building.
UN Women welcomes the advances made since the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was gender blind. Expectations have been building in the run up to COP21, with more than 50 decisions by Parties to the UNFCCC with gender-specific references already adopted, including the Lima Work Programme on Gender that was adopted in 2014; the creation of the Green Climate Fund, which includes a gender-sensitive governing principle; and work undertaken by UN Women since its inception five years ago to make the outcomes of the UNFCCC processes responsive to gender equality and women's empowerment considerations.
The Paris Agreement constitutes a breakthrough; for the first time, a Climate Treaty in its Preamble commits Parties, when taking action to address climate change, to respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, as well as on gender equality, and the empowerment of women. The Agreement also mandates gender-responsive adaptation actions and capacity-building activities.
Furthermore, the Purpose of the Agreement specifies that the global response to the threat of climate change will be undertaken in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. As such it joins the continuum of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its overall framing of ‘people, planet and prosperity’, Goal 13 on urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, and Goal 5 and related targets incorporating gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout the Agenda.
However, although the Paris Agreement recognises the social, economic and environmental dimensions of climate change, it falls short of being transformational. Women had expected their needs and contributions as innovators and agents of change to be explicitly acknowledged by gender-responsiveness in the key sections on finance, and technology development and transfer, and that the data and monitoring of climate action would be gender sensitive.
Women of the world now expect that these omissions do not act as a barrier to resolute, gender- responsive climate action. We call on Parties to move ambitiously to implement the Paris Agreement in its totality starting now to fulfil their overarching commitment to respect and promote gender equality and women's empowerment, in and through climate action. We call on Parties to live up to the strong positioning asserted in Agenda 2030 of women as key drivers and supporters of resilience; as beneficiaries and enablers of climate action and as agents of change; as creative, entrepreneurial solution finders in the face of multiple challenges and as crucial partners in investment for a climate-resilient future and a sustainable planet.
To continue to put women at the forefront of climate solutions, UN Women launched two global programmes at COP 21, on Women’s Sustainable Energy Entrepreneurship and Access and Women’s Empowerment through Climate-resilient Agriculture. These programmes link conceptually and practically to climate change mitigation and adaptation while at the same time enhancing the capacities of women and girls as economic actors.
Accountability has never been more important: UN Women is committed to continue working with governments to support their nationally determined contributions towards achieving the objective of the Agreement as well as their national action plans from now until 2020 when the Agreement takes effect, and beyond. We will work as one UN, along with all other stakeholders, to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that women’s needs are taken into account and their active participation and agency realised in all aspects of climate policy, finance and response.
Photo: UN Women