Saudi Arabia opposes gender equality in climate change policy

Updated - April 07, 2016 03:11 am IST

Published - December 07, 2014 08:13 am IST - LIMA

The Saudi Arabia delegation made a strong pitch to exclude the recognition of gender equality in the recommendations for the draft agreement for Paris in 2015 which is under discussion in Lima. A delegate who was part of the meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), on Saturday said that it was only Mexico which fought till the end to retain gender as being paramount in the implementation of climate change policy.

The SBI is one of the two permanent subsidiary bodies to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and provides recommendations for the Conference of Parties through assessment and review of the effective implementation of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

The delegate said that earlier the gender aspect was woven into the entire text but now a compromised language has been formulated and gender is only in the preamble. One country has bullied the rest of the world and it even got support from the European Union (EU), the delegate pointed out. Saudi Arabia was against any language on gender equality and incorporating gender in climate change policies.

In protest Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of 900 non-governmental organisations gave the EU and Saudi Arabia the “fossil of the day” award which is given every day during the talks to countries judged to have done their ‘best’ to block progress in the negotiations. CAN said the Saudi delegation has spoken out strongly against the recognition of gender equality in the implementation process.

In a statement CAN said over four days Saudi Arabia attacked the vital content on gender equality, and the need to promote urgent and effective gender-responsive climate policy. The EU fell in disgrace along with Saudi Arabia for supporting, in public, the withdrawal of gender equality language, CAN added. However, some of the language was restored, though sources in the meeting said that the U.S. is opposing the inclusion of gender in the section on finance in the new climate agreement.

This would have a negative impact, since climate change has differentiated impacts in women and men, and therefore there is a need to devise differentiated action in climate policies.

Without proper methodologies in the finance schemes, the finance will be allocated without understanding the gendered impacts of climate change and therefore may be exacerbating inequalities, sources said.

The aim was to give a strong focus on gender to support countries in implementing climate change policies with gender considerations. There are fears now that even in the final text the battle to include all aspects of gender and climate change will be a difficult one.

Meanwhile the UN climate talks will focus on gender on Tuesday which is Gender Day and there is even a high level segment on gender and climate change. One of the programmes called Momentum for Change, showcases women's leadership on climate action.

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