Women in Climate Diplomacy

Climate change is no doubt an evident hazard to peace and safety in the 21st century. Everyone feels the impacts of climate change. It has become one of the greatest challenges faced by the world. The geopolitical consequences of this climate crisis are very substantial. We, being the inhabitants of this world, are moving close to the time when things will not be in good shape. It is also pertinent to mention that the repercussions of our foreign policy agenda are noteworthy. Therefore, the foreign policy of any country has an important role in international climate policy.

This can further be strengthening through climate diplomacy. The challenges posed by the climate crisis are enormous. These challenges already affected the livelihoods of people and impaired development. Apart from these challenges, the climate crisis has the potential of causing major and highly uncertain impacts on societies. They can certainly undermine human security and can increase the risks of conflict and instability. To address all such impacts and challenges there is a need to have a global-level strategic and coordinated response. This is where climate diplomacy plays its part.

Climate diplomacy is all related to prioritising climate action with partners worldwide. All this can be done through diplomatic dialogues, public diplomacy and external policy instruments. One can have a collaborative approach by reaching out to partner countries. Bilateral dialogues and actions collectively can further enhance the need for climate action. In this case, the pragmatic approach makes things more evident and noticeable. All these actions taken under the umbrella of climate diplomacy are also gender-free. How these challenges are impacting the life of a woman is also something really important to discuss.

Women are excessively vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. The countries around the world should identify this to further embrace a gender dimension as well as female participation in policy-making most importantly when it comes to climate diplomacy. There are many parts of the world including the South Asian region, where there is a need to deal with gender issues in climate diplomacy. This is the only way to attain sustainable development goals worldwide by giving participation to women.

The Paris Agreement is a milestone international accord that was adopted in 2015 by almost every country. The purpose was to deal with climate change and its negative impacts. The agreement aims to considerably lessen global greenhouse gas emissions. This is imperative to further restrict the global temperature. The Paris agreement provided a way for developed countries to help developing nations in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. The agreement also created a mechanism for transparent monitoring, reporting as well as emphasizing achieving collective climate goals.

Women’s role as climate actors has a huge impact. In developing countries, there is negligible female participation, especially when it comes to policy-making related to climate change. In many parts of the world, women embraced the traditional roles of managing the household and works as caregivers. The approach to women in this regard is very typical in many regions of the world. The United Nations (UN) estimated that 80% of those who have been dislocated by climate change are women. Women are the front line of the climate-change battle. They are exclusively the agents of change by helping to find ways to mitigate the reasons for global warming and to become accustomed to its impacts pragmatically. The Paris Agreement acknowledged this veracity and indicated that the world need to further empower women in climate decision-making.

Although the conditions are not favourable for all women across the world, especially those who belong to developing Nations with marginalized facilities. Still, they are committed to delivering whether it comes to working at community levels or decision-making. They are using their voices to call for action on climate change.

Christiana Figueres is one of the prominent names in climate diplomacy, who after supervising a climate-change nonprofit for eight years became the head of UNFCCC. She came as a ray of hope and infused an exceptional sense of optimism. Moreover, she made sure to remove all the hurdles including the political interests and united all to work for the climate matters. She became successful with this strategy of her. As a result, Figueres productively steered world leaders to reach the Paris Agreement in 2015. During these negotiations, many other women also played their part. Figueres was triumphant in shedding an imperative light on the gender dimension of climate change. It is revealed later that she is working on publishing a book about combating climate change in the next 10 years by the world.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright is another name working hard for climate-related issues. Rhiana was attached to an organization working on health-related issues worldwide. She later realized that the environment is creating a wide range of social justice issues. She also realized the need to address all these issues at the earliest. She came up with a view that alone it cannot be done and there is a need for an amalgamated effort in this regard. She changed the whole focus and now Gunn-Wright is engaged in bringing that holistic approach to the national level. Currently, she is working with an organization named New Consensus -a think tank working on policymaking regarding climate change in collaboration with law firms.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is another name. She is the one who belongs to the African region. Being a member of the Mbororo pastoralist community in Chad she has spent more than 10 years working to viaduct the gap between the international decisions on climate change with the veracity on the ground.

The gap between the policies and their practicality should be the real focus. This is how policies can be more pragmatic and result oriented. Once we have a look at the South Asian region, this region as a whole immediately needs to deal with gender issues in climate diplomacy. In this particular region, agricultural sector is the major important key to understanding women’s climate vulnerabilities. In rural areas, almost 70% of women are measured to be dependent on agriculture. Even 70% of the agricultural work is identified to be carried out by women. Therefore, it is pertinent to mention that climate change has had an adverse impact on the women of this region. Female farmers tend to endure the direct impact of climate change and the environment. Recurring droughts in many countries of the region and annual floods in some of the areas are just some of the examples wherein farmers have been harshly hit by climate changes. Here it should also be noticed that the women are not given due participation when it comes to decision making at any level. They even do not have any share in crop insurance to defeat the losses caused by climate change. This is something very serious and needs immediate attention.

The United Nations estimated that 80% of those who have been dislocated by climate change are women and they are at the front line of the climate-change battle.

Since 2016, the Government of Pakistan in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan is commemorating Climate Diplomacy Day. The aim is to emphasize the unfavourable impacts of climate change and search for positive actions. The purpose of this endeavor is to encourage debate on climate change. The inclusion of youth and women is also the essence of the commencement of this day. This is how youth and women of Pakistan coming from diverse backgrounds can come together to exchange views. This is how the opportunities arising through the irreparable transition to low carbon economies can be explored while equitable access to sustainable development can be ensured as well. There are certainly high hopes associated with the incumbent government, unlike its predecessors. It is also evident that the environment and climate change seem to be among the top priorities of the present Government.

Women constitute a large percentage of the population of Pakistan. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), almost 70% of the world’s poor are women. Climate change is further pushing them to below the poverty line. The agriculture sector in Pakistan is directly affected by climate change and it unfavourably affects the livelihood and routine of rural women as well because they use to put more efforts to run the affairs under these impacts. Not only the rural women of Pakistan are vulnerable to climate change but those living in the urban areas are also suffering from polluted air and bearing the brunt of extreme weather events.

Gender-sensitive strategies are necessary to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change. There is a need to involve more women in climate diplomacy and policymaking. If efficiently trained, the women of Pakistan are resilient enough to become accustomed to changing environmental realities. They can positively contribute to the cause of climate change adaptation and mitigation. The real and practical thing is their inclusion by giving them more space and opportunities.


Newsletter SignUp

About Saima Zaman 40 Articles
Writer is the Assistant Editor ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’, ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Project Coordinator (COPAIR); a degree holder in communication & media sciences.