At opening of Regional Meeting on Climate Change and Gender Equality: Experts agree that gender equality is key to effective climate action in Latin America

Santiago, 2 September 2021. With the message that only with gender equality and a more active and equitable participation of women in decision-making will truly effective climate action be possible in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Regional Meeting on Climate Change and Gender Equality organized by COP25, the European Union through its EUROCLIMA+ and EUROSOCIAL programmes, ECLAC, the United Nations System in Chile and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg began on 2 September.

The inauguration was attended by Carolina Schmidt, President of COP25 and Minister of Environment of Chile; Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) of the European Union; Santiago Lorenzo, Head of the Economics of Climate Change Unit of the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), representing Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC; and María Noel Vaeza, Director for the Americas and the Caribbean Region of UN Women.

Afterwards, the document that country representatives will work on throughout the different sessions of the Meeting was also presented, in order to have a general overview to accelerate climate action in the region with a gender equality perspective and implement the Gender Action Plan of the Paris Agreement.

To achieve this, it is expected to promote the creation of a Network for Gender Equality and Climate Change in LAC, which will work on the roadmap to promote the incorporation of a gender equality approach in climate action in governments.

The working paper was presented by Pilar Román of the European Union’s Eurosocial+ Programme, an expert in sustainable development, together with a panel of experts composed of Piedad Martín, Deputy Director, United Nations Environment Programme; Fleur Newman, Gender Focal Point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Gender Focal Point to the UNFCCC; and Ana Güezmes, Director, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Fleur Newman, Gender Focal Point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Gender Focal Point to the UNFCCC; and Ana Güezmes, Director of the Division of Gender Affairs, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which was moderated by Paula Fuentes, COP25 Advisor.

The experts agreed that gender equality is key to promoting a green and inclusive recovery in one of the regions of the world hardest hit by the pandemic and also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as Latin America and the Caribbean.

Among the structural causes of gender inequality in the region are the unequal distribution of domestic and care responsibilities in households, the informality of work and the wage gap. Among the challenges to the aforementioned gaps are the generation of information for decision-making, political will, capacity-building, institutional arrangement mechanisms, and access to climate finance with a gender perspective.

During the inauguration of the Meeting, Minister Schmidt pointed out that the gender perspective plays a fundamental role due to the structural inequalities existing in society and that its inclusion in decision-making and overcoming the gender gap in all areas is a fundamental element to move forward. “We need women decision-makers developing policies for the 2030 agenda. We need more women in the protection of our ecosystems and biodiversity, in the transition to the circular economy and in climate action. When women lead transformations, entire communities benefit,” she said.

For her part, Director Butkeviciene stressed that climate action and the fight for women’s equality are central issues for the European Union and its cooperation with the region. “Evidence shows that women are disproportionately more vulnerable to the effects of climate change: their autonomy and adaptive capacity is limited by inequalities in access to land, natural resources or technology, which in turn deepens gender gaps. In this context, it is essential to promote gender mainstreaming in climate change adaptation and mitigation policies in order to advance climate action and also gender equality and women’s empowerment,” she said.

For Lorenzo, this is a crucial moment for the Latin American and Caribbean region, the hardest hit by the pandemic in different dimensions, with more than a fifth of the global infections and a third of the deaths related to COVID-19, “The setbacks in gender equality are another dimension of the pandemic and this is just the prelude to the climate emergency. We need a transformative recovery to energize the economy, across strategic sectors to improve inclusiveness and address the climate crisis,” she said.

Noel, for her part, emphasized that the discussion on climate change has been focused on economic and social aspects, without considering the gender inequalities that are reproduced and negatively impact women, so it is essential to address the issue of climate change from a gender perspective. “Understanding the gender-environment nexus is not only key to analyzing social and environmental inequalities and barriers to sustainable development, but also to achieving transformative action,” she said.

About the meeting

The Government of Chile, in its capacity as Presidency of COP 25, is holding the Regional Meeting on Climate Change and Gender Equality during September, through its Ministries of Environment, Foreign Affairs and Women and Gender Equality. The event has the support of the European Union, through its EUROCLIMA+ and EUROsociAL+ programmes, and the technical support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) as key strategic partners in climate action and to connect the dots between the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting also has the collaboration of the United Nations System of Chile and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The meeting is 100% virtual and will take place in various sessions throughout the month. The meetings will showcase experiences, good practices, challenges and opportunities to integrate gender equality in climate action in LAC and in the roadmap for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Decision-makers at national, regional and global levels, academia and civil society will participate in the event.  The high-level opening panel, as well as the first session on the Regional Meeting on Climate Change and Gender Equality in Spanish can be viewed here. The English version can be viewed here.

Live broadcasts of the sessions are open to anyone interested via the Chilean Ministry of Environment’s YouTube channel (in Spanish) and on the Euroclima+ YouTube channel (in English).

More information about the meeting and upcoming sessions here.

Press contact:
Katiana Murillo
Regional Meeting on Climate Change and Gender Equality
WhatsApp: +506 83740732