On the way to COP 26: WECF participates in the UN preparatory climate negotiations!

By Ariane Colson

From 31 May to 17 June 2021, WECF participated in the first virtual negotiations of the UNFCCC – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in preparation for COP26 to be held in November 2021 in Glasgow. These negotiations, which took place entirely online this year, enabled Parties to make progress on several topics. Yet, they also revealed the digital divide between countries in the Global North and Global South, which results in strong inequalities in the ability to actively participate in the negotiations.

This session was particularly important because the COP could not take place last year. It was therefore crucial that the COVID-19 pandemic did not continue to slow down international climate decision-making. The negotiations included State delegates, the Convention bodies, as well as Civil Society Organisations, including WECF.

Crucial negotiations ahead of COP 26: what about Article 6 of the Paris Agreement?

We have also been closely following the debates on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, mainly on carbon market mechanisms. Civil society has repeatedly pointed out that without the introduction of clear, ambitious and inclusive safeguards, Article 6 could have negative impacts on human rights, in addition to slowing down efforts to achieve the global objective of 1.5°C. Indeed, COP26 should not lead States to compensate rather than reducing their CO2 emissions.

Acting on climate before 2030 is crucial in order to comply with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The experts remind us that we now have less than 10 years to undertake a complete transformation of our development models in order to address irreversible climate impacts that threaten humanity. This transformation must prioritise social justice, as those most affected and most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are those who are least responsible for it.

Civil society organisations and Parties such as Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Norway and the three following groups of States: Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Environmental Integrity Group (Georgia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Republic of Korea, Switzerland) and the European Union, have called for strong human rights, environmental and gender safeguards in the implementation of this article. It is fundamental that its implementation contributes to the mitigation of global emissions, while protecting human rights. The Women and Gender Constituency has placed particular emphasis on the rights of women and gender minorities, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples. The introduction of an independent redress mechanism (e.g. for rights violations) was also demanded by our coalition, in order to ensure the right to a remedy.

After three weeks, few concrete results have emerged from these negotiations. Instead, they have revealed many blockages and disagreements… We will therefore closely follow the sessions dedicated to Article 6 at COP 26!

Climate technology should be gender responsive

WECF took advantage of the sessions related to technology transfer and development to emphasise that it must better address existing gender inequalities. Our representatives also stressed that gender-just climate solutions already exist on the ground and can serve as a model. For example: In 2016, the Union of women’s argan cooperatives (UCFA) for the production of argan oil and other local products, together with the Foundation MVI for Research and the Safeguard of Argan tree (FMVIRSA) were awarded the Gender Just Climate Solutions Awards by the Women and Gender Constituency, in recognition of their action to introduce solar cookers in the Argan Biosphere Reserve. The project led to the creation of two women’s energy cooperatives that promote a sustainable local economy and contribute to the emergence of a new sector of solar equipment for agricultural food processing, based on the cooperative model. Thus, the project boosts the energy transition and serves an inclusive and local economy in Morocco, while supporting women’s  socio-economic empowerment. In fact, 600 rural women benefit from a training programme and actively participate in the climate protection of semi-arid territories, in particular through job creation.

Another example is the organisation UNIVERS-SEL in Guinea-Bissau, which works with women salt producers and supports their empowerment while protecting coastal areas. The project won the 2019 Gender Just Climate Solutions Award for it’s solar salt farming technology, as well as innovative water management solutions in rice fields. Bringing together ancestral know-how and technological innovation, UNIVERS-SEL has transferred to 1,500 women and 500 men new technologies that preserve mangroves and reduce the use of firewood.

What are the ‘loss and damage’-related issues in the run-up to COP 26?

Other important topics are on our priority list, but have been insufficiently tackled during the intersessions: adaptation, and ‘loss and damage’. As the world continues to suffer the increasingly devastating effects of the climate and pandemic crises, both of which disproportionately affect women, gender minorities and the most vulnerable populations in the Global South, States must provide more funding and support for adaptation and ‘loss and damage’. We hope that COP 26 will bring forward a more balanced agenda to better include these issues in the negotiations!

The period between now and 2030 is vital to limit the impacts of climate change on people, territories and biodiversity. At COP26 we want to see the adoption of more ambitious measures and objectives in order to contribute to mitigation and adaptation. This process must respect human rights and integrate gender equality. As it is crucial to address the lack of ambition or inclusiveness of future decisions on the above-mentioned issues in Glasgow, we will be following the negotiations closely. Moreover, we will continue to promote our Gender Just Climate Solutions during these international summits, along with keeping you informed about the Awards Ceremony and other events and exhibitions we plan to organise in November in Glasgow!