By Stephanie Matulin, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs Scholar
On my second day at COP23, the conference theme was gender. I thought it fitting to explore not only how gender issues in climate change are viewed, but how gender influences discussions and negotiations at the COP. This climate conference is also the first year a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) has had the COP presidency, with Fiji focusing on giving space for voices and issues that are not normally represented.
We started the day off bright and early in the Bula zone, meeting with Dina Hestad, current PhD researcher and former Global Voices program manager, who was able to give us some key insights into what to watch out for at the COP. Loss and damage was identified as a hot topic with debates on how to make finance for developing countries more accessible and negotiations more inclusive.
We then moved on to the Nairobi negotiation room to observe informal consultations on the Green Climate Fund report and see first-hand how details and language in reports are framed and worded and how lengthy the process of agreeing on these changes can be.
Following on with the gender theme for today, I strayed out to the Bonn zone from the Bula zone to catch some important side event discussions about gender, women and climate justice. A highlight was hearing from women in South Africa, Indonesia, Kenya, Ecuador, Gambia and Sudan about small-hold farmers and Indigenous perspectives on what can be done at the international level to support local and Indigenous women’s climate struggles. The speakers felt that it is the duty of polluters to finance for loss and damage in local communities, address root causes such as phasing out of fossil fuels and to have a greater focus on land rights for women and Indigenous peoples. This is on top of efforts to mainstream gender issues through other COP items such as the newly accepted Gender Action Plan (GAP). The speakers were not the only ones sharing their views, with a Philippines community representative questioning the lack of LGBTI focus and sharing their experience of LGBTI peoples struggling to access assistance after a disaster due to lack of recognition of same sex marriage.
After a busy day of back-to-back sessions, the Global Voices delegation attended a cocktail event run by the Carbon Market Institute. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with other Australians at the conference as well as DFAT officials and business representatives. I was particularly interested to hear from market and business-focused perspectives after a day of listening to grassroots views.
Today really highlighted the different ways that people, organisations and states are dealing with climate change, whether it be through direct community actions, the creation of new markets or the international treaty-making process. Overall I felt that continued efforts need to be made to include minority issues and for the COP process to be made more inclusive.