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“By taking on a greater role in climate leadership, women can create wins for many areas including climate action, gender equity, food security, poverty reduction”…

Aug 27, 2022
Lilian Motaroki is Researcher on Climate Adaptation & Resilience based in Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). She works with the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED). Her current focus is on the least developed countries (LDCs) where she supports front runner countries to implement the Least Developed Countries Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE AR). LDCs developed LIFE AR following the recognition that business as usual (BAU) approaches to climate change characterised by short term, projectised sectoral responses are not working.

Praveen Gupta: Don’t you think more women from Global South need to be inducted into global climate leadership including the COP?

Lilian Motaroki: Given the gender differentiated impacts of climate change, women need to be at the fore front of climate action. For them to do this, inclusion must start from the local/community levels where the impacts are felt most, through to the national, regional and global levels.  In the agriculture sector, where I have worked for a few years now, there are serious gender gaps in productivity owing to the constraints that women face in production despite contributing most of the labor. Inducting more women into global climate leadership will lead to better prioritisation of gender dimensions decision making, policy and in implementation programmes.

Global forums like the conference of parties (COP) that happens every year and the constituted bodies of the UNFCCC continue to exhibit limited engagement of women owing to different structural issues and barriers.

Global forums like the conference of parties (COP) that happens every year and the constituted bodies of the UNFCCC continue to exhibit limited engagement of women owing to different structural issues and barriers. The number of women that are represented in national delegations or serving as heads or deputy heads of delegations, robbing them of positions with the most power. The 2020 UNFCCC gender composition report showed that only 27% of all the heads and deputy heads of delegation were women and the numbers dropped further when considering women from developing countries.

Both the preamble of the Paris Agreement and the Lima Work Programme on Gender acknowledge the critical need for the participation and meaningful engagement of women in climate action. This will ensure that women’s needs and priorities, their voice as well as leadership are taken into account in policy and decision-making processes, ultimately enhancing sustainable climate action and closing gender gaps in production sectors like agriculture. 

PG: How do you think a larger role for women would make the desired difference to the Climate agenda?

LM: The meaningful engagement and participation of women is vital if we are to achieve gender and socially transformative climate action. There is adequate data in literature to show the positive implications of giving women a larger role in climate leadership in for example policy making, research, implementation among others. In the agriculture sector for example, estimates show that closing the gender gap through actions like increased access to resources would increase agricultural output from 2.5% to 4% and reduce the number of hungry people from 12% to 17% globally.

Participation and meaningful engagement of women in decision-making at national and global level will ensure the formulation of gender responsive policies with clear action plans for implementation. Women in the global south also have high knowledge and skills owing to their stewardship roles for natural resources, especially land and water. That can be leveraged to build resilience and conserve the environment. By taking on a greater role in climate leadership, women can create wins for many areas including climate action, gender equity, food security, poverty reduction among others, contributing to not only climate goals but also sustainable development goals.

PG: Africa has borne the serious repercussions of colonialism. The Global North continues to exploit the abundant resources of Africa. How would you like COP27 to address this?

LM: We have to acknowledge that although people in the global south have contributed the least in causing the climate crisis, they suffer the most from the impacts, owing to limited adaptive capacity and high levels of vulnerability. If those responsible for the climate crisis do not support the global south with means for building resilience and cutting emissions, there is a risk that the global south will get on the same development pathways used by the West, driven by dirty fossil fuels. This would make it impossible to realise the Paris Agreement ambition to maintain global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius, spelling a code red for humanity.

The colonial legacies of the past continue to be seen in the actions of developed countries today, where despite achieving their ‘developed’ status by exploiting resources from the south, they continue to burden them with debt, even when addressing issues like climate change for which they are most responsible. Currently, governance for climate finance is oppressive and has not worked to advance global climate justice.

COP27 should consider options for making new and additional financing accessible to the global south to address other challenges beyond climate change, including sustainable development and disaster risk reduction, without forcing the countries to accumulate more debt.

The West failed to deliver their $100 billion by 2020 commitment. A key priority for COP27 should be to consider a new quantified climate finance goal, built on trust to ensure that there is adequate and predictable financing accessible to the global south to facilitate effective climate action. COP27 should consider options for making new and additional financing accessible to the global south to address other challenges beyond climate change, including sustainable development and disaster risk reduction, without forcing the countries to accumulate more debt. Moreover, COP 27 should call for debt cancellation for developing countries so they can use their domestic revenue to advance climate action and pursue sustainable development.

Importantly, it’s about time that the global north realises the need to pursue more ethical and equitable partnerships with their partners in the global south. This will ensure that communities in the global south have a say in their adaptation investment priorities and that funding gets to those that need it the most. Equitable partnerships will also help to transform the financing landscapes with donors providing adequate and more predictable financing with minimal transaction costs and limited use of intermediaries so that at least 70% of climate finance gets to the local level where action is most needed.

Ethical and equitable partnerships are key to climate justice and decolonising the climate agenda. The new quantified goal on climate finance is an opportunity for the developed countries to redress past failures…

Ethical and equitable partnerships are key to climate justice and decolonising the climate agenda. The new quantified goal on climate finance is an opportunity for the developed countries to redress past failures, ensuring there is accountability, ethical and equitable partnerships and getting support to the poorest and most vulnerable.

PG: Given your work in the science-policy interface within the context of climate change, agriculture and gender – how do you facilitate long-term low carbon climate resilient development (LTS)? How do you blend this with gender and social inclusion.

LM: The Paris Agreement calls upon countries to formulate their long-term low carbon climate resilient strategies (LTS). The LTS provides a bold vision for adaptation and mitigation within which countries can formulate short, medium and long-term investments for enhanced resilience and low emissions, while guiding countries to update their nationally determined contributions. The LTS also ensures that countries undertake their long-term development planning in the context of climate risks, using a multisectoral and whole of society approach, working across all segments of society and using an integrated approach to adaptation, resilience and mitigation.  

With my unique positioning at the science policy interface, I am currently supporting the implementation of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE AR). LIFE AR is an LDC-led and LDC-owned initiative, that is using a business unusual approach to achieve the LDC 2050 Vision for climate resilient people, economies and landscapes.

The initiative is hinged on 5 key principles including the LDCs and development partners working together on a shared and equal platform, using an integrated approach to adaptation, resilience and mitigation, providing adequate and predictable financing for climate action with at least 70% reaching the local level, strengthening in country climate capabilities, systems and structures at national and local and promoting gender and social inclusion (GESI). This is meant to ensure effective governance in climate decision, leaving no one behind. The initiative is currently being implemented in 6 front runner LDC countries that will work to identify delivery mechanisms to flow funds to support adaptation and resilience investments that will contribute not just to climate action but also to the long-term vision for development in their countries.

PG: Many thanks Lilian for these fantastic insights. My best wishes for your leadership.

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