More Women Are Needed in Climate Debate, Top UN Official Says
(Bloomberg) -- The COP26 climate talks suffer from a dearth of women, which hinders the debate on how to tackle the problem, the president of the United Nations General Assembly said.
Just 12% of heads of national environment ministries and agencies are women, Abdulla Shahid, who is also the foreign minister of the Maldives, said in an interview at the UN discussions in Glasgow, Scotland. They also make up fewer than 30% of climate and biodiversity scientists and just 38% of national delegates at the talks, he added.
Women bring a different and important perspective to the discussions, Shahid said. “It would assist the climate debate having a gender perspective more accurately reflected.”
To be sure, women have held some of the most important roles at climate meetings. The COP26 talks are stewarded by Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Her predecessor, Christiana Figueres, ushered in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Climate activist Greta Thunberg is the world’s most prominent youth campaigner.
But Shahid said that women -- who generally have lower carbon footprints than men -- tend be more affected by the impacts of climate change, especially in parts of the developing world. In some countries, women are in charge of gathering water for their families, giving them insight into the changing environment, Shahid said.
The disparity spreads into other areas: women make up just 19% of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank boards, according to a report on Tuesday by the Women in Climate Finance Action Group, chaired by Aviva Plc Chief Executive Officer Amanda Blanc. Her group found that women are “seriously underrepresented in climate policy, climate decision-making and climate finance.”
“We can’t solve the climate crisis without involving women,” Blanc said in a statement. “With so much at stake, it is negligent beyond belief to ignore the impact on half the world’s population and the contribution women can make.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.