(second from left) Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, at the MENA Climate Week in Riyadh Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: In a significant move towards promoting gender equality and inclusivity in climate diplomacy, the COP28 Presidency has unveiled a series of measures to support the representation and participation of women at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in the UAE.

The measures include financial assistance to encourage stronger attendance of women delegates, technical training sessions, and support for an international conference focusing on gender and the environment.

“Historically, the perspectives and leadership of women have been underrepresented in many spheres of public life and climate diplomacy is no exception,” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, who is also the president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the second woman to lead the organisation in its 75-year history.

“The COP28 Presidency is mobilising for an inclusive COP. These steps to support women’s leadership and participation get us closer to our goal and, I believe, will also have a positive impact on future rounds of the climate talks and on climate activism in general.”

‘Night School for Women Delegates’

The COP28 Presidency will also provide financial support to a Night School for Women Delegates, run by Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO). The financial support will cover logistical, travel and other associated costs for women delegates attending COP meetings. Founded in 2009 and run by the WEDO, the initiative focuses on climate capacity-building for women from least-developed countries and small island developing states.

Bridget Burns, executive Director of WEDO, said: “Women’s equal participation in climate change decision-making is fundamental to just policies that reflect and respond to the needs of the global community. Via the Women Delegates Fund programme, this support goes towards strengthening women’s leadership and diplomacy skills - particularly women leaders from countries and regions most vulnerable to climate impacts - through knowledge and capacity strengthening on technical issues related to the negotiations, including running mock sessions and practice in drafting interventions.”

Two-day conference

The COP28 Presidency will also offer financial support for the Global Conference on Gender and Environment Data, run collaboratively by COP28, UN Women, WEDO, UNFCCC, IUCN and UN Climate Change High-Level Champions.

The two-day event will take place on November 28-29 in Dubai. Speakers and participants will include UN agencies, government officials, policymakers, leaders and commitment makers of the Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition and the Gender Environment Data Alliance (GEDA), private foundations, civil society organisations, indigenous leaders, local communities and academia.

The goal of the conference is to provide a platform to exchange best practices, leverage innovation and find solutions to common challenges to produce and use data on the gender-environment nexus.

This assistance will help gather a broad array of speakers, including representatives from academia, civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities who may otherwise not be able to travel to the UAE.

Arab Women Leaders’ Summit

COP28 UAE will also host the Arab Women Leaders’ Summit in collaboration with WiSER (Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy), a global platform that champions women as leaders of sustainable change. WiSER was established in 2015 by Masdar, the UAE’s flagship renewable energy company, and empowers women to gain leadership skills through the lens of sustainability.

Held on December 4, COP28’s Finance/Trade/Gender Equality/Accountability Day, the summit will explore the critical relationship between gender equality and climate action. It will bring together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including researchers, activists, policymakers, and representatives from civil society organisations, to discuss the intersectionality of gender and climate change.

Dr Lamya Fawwaz, executive director for Brand and Strategic Initiatives at Masdar and Programme Director of WiSER, said: “Women are often worst affected by climate change. Yet we know that they are also at the forefront of efforts to combat it. Women have the knowledge, commitment, and innovative spirit that the world urgently needs to accelerate the path to net zero. At WiSER, we are proud to be collaborating with the COP28 Presidency to amplify the voices and expert insights of Arab women leaders. Climate change is having a profound impact on our region and our planet. Women must be front and centre in the collective mission to tackle it.”

Women and Gender Pavilion

The new measures come on top of existing efforts and commitments, such as an official letter to all state Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the letter, Parties have been asked to bring gender-balanced delegations to the Dubai talks.

The COP28 Presidency is also funding a Women and Gender Pavilion at the event. Run by the Women and Gender Constituency, the pavilion will highlight women’s leadership and efforts in driving global climate action.

“The gendered aspects of climate change are not widely known, yet they deserve our attention – climate change is by no means gender neutral,” said Al Mubarak. “Few people know that women and girls, comprising 70 percent of the world’s poor, are disproportionately affected by climate change. For example, they are 14 times more likely to die in climate-related natural disasters. They are also less able to access relief and assistance once disaster has struck.”

“Getting more women involved and giving them the tools to showcase their perspectives and participate in finding the solutions will ultimately yield stronger outcomes that benefit everyone,” added Al Mubarak.