Quick Analysis

Quick Analysis of Gender in UNFCCC Decisions

Looking at the data, significant progress toward, and gaps remaining for, gender-sensitive climate policy are evident:

  • UNFCCC decisions have mentioned gender and/or women in 120 decisions, including specific stand-alone decisions regarding gender like the Lima Work Programme on Gender (2014), the Gender Action Plan (2017), and the Enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender and its Gender Action Plan (2019).
  • Most of the decisions (91) are about mainstreaming gender into the consideration of the topic of the text, while 51 of the decisions concern gender balance, 12 have some regard for gender equality, and 3 characterize women as a vulnerable group. Over 20%, or 25 decisions, have reiterated and/or reaffirmed language in other decision text. There has been a shift over time toward more gender-mainstreaming compared to an earlier focus on gender balance--enhancing women’s participation on constituted bodies and within Party delegations.
  • The thematic area with the most references to women or gender is finance, with 30 decisions, and that area keeps increasing year to year with the standard reporting on finance items. Adaptation, though, with 23 decisions, is the area in which some of the most robust language has been integrated.

Understanding Policy Areas

Policy Area



The first mention of gender within UNFCCC decisions was a standalone decision focused on gender balance. The underrepresentation of women in many delegations, particularly in higher levels of leadership and in countries that face the highest burden of climate impacts, remains a key element of many gender mandates, noting that it is essential for women to be included in the climate change decision-making process so that solutions may properly serve all those affected by climate change. More recent decisions with gender as their leading theme, though, beginning with the Lima Work Programme on Gender in 2014, move beyond gender balance to address multiple aspects of gender equality. These standalone decisions represent the progression of gender within the UNFCCC and provide the most complete framework for understanding how the UNFCCC addresses gender.

Shared Vision

In tackling climate change, countries must work towards a shared vision and approach to climate solutions and actions. An Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Action (AWG-LCA) worked on various issues of climate change and concluded its work in 2010 when the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform of Action (ADP) was established to develop the elements of the new climate treaty. The final decision of the AWG-LCA includes several references to gender, inter alia, a shared vision including recognition that gender equality and the effective participation of women are important for effective action on all aspects of climate change. The Preamble of the Paris Agreement now serves to take forward this Shared Vision of global climate action, reaffirming a commitment to gender equality.


Mitigation actions reduce the contribution of human activities to climate change (e.g. by reducing GHG emissions). Mitigation actions must incorporate gender equality into initiatives for climate action to generate high social benefits and cut across gender, social, and economic lines while supporting economic activities and providing solutions towards poverty alleviation. Additionally, women are key players in many sectors that have opportunities for mitigation, namely, reforestation, management of local resources, and agriculture; including them in the decision-making processes for mitigation is essential to create sustainable, long-lasting solutions to climate change.


Climate financing approaches should be designed to address rather than reinforce gender inequalities. Women still face unequal access to political power, economic resources, legal rights, land ownership, bank credit, and technical training, and this lack of equal access to resources makes women more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change as well as less able to adapt or participate in mitigation. Gender responsive climate finance can promote gender equality and improve resilience by establishing structures and operating procedures that are careful to include both women and men in decision-making roles, respond to the particular needs of women for climate-related financing, and enable women’s enterprises to benefit from new low-carbon technologies and economic opportunities.

Technology Transfer

Including women in technology policies and projects is essential in the shift to low-carbon societies. This shift should also promote the development and support of new opportunities for the engagement and training of women in the mitigation and technology sectors on the use, development, production and marketing of these technologies. The shift should take into account the use women will make of new technology and support opportunities to share that knowledge with other women. Moreover, the technology initiatives should support women’s economic empowerment by setting targets for women’s participation in projects and programs designed to expand the distribution of climate-proof technologies, including as designers, managers, distributors, and entrepreneurs.

Capacity Building

Future capacity building actions should strengthen the institutional capabilities of decision-makers and practitioners at the international, national, and local level on the development and implementation of gender-sensitive climate policies. Gender should be taken into account in the strengthening of institutions to improve the responsiveness of those institutions to the actual needs of the population. Capacity building initiatives can enhance the ability of developing countries and those in economic transition to identify, plan and implement ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change when they consider the importance of including the gender aspects of capacity building activities and political know-how.

Loss and Damage

To properly assess the magnitude of loss or damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change studies must take into account social, economic and political factors, which include gender. Certain impacts may disproportionately affect one gender due to inequality in terms of rights, occupation, or gender roles. It is therefore important that the mechanisms used to measure damage be gender-sensitive in order to effectively quantify the harms and later properly address them or compensate for loss.


Adaptation activities reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to current and projected climate risks at the national, regional and community level. Vulnerability measures the capacity that individuals or nations may have to cope with negative changes in their environment. The inequitable distribution of rights, resources and power constraints many people’s ability to take action on climate change, with differential constraints and impacts on women and men. A gender-responsive approach to adaptation is critical to understanding vulnerability and to effectively adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, women’s participation in adaptation increases diversity in experiences and knowledge about environmental conditions and social constraints. Adaptation is so far the area in which the most robust gender-sensitive language has been integrated.


Transparency is key to monitoring progress toward the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the ultimate ratcheting up of ambition, with Parties communicating on their greenhouse gas emissions and climate actions as well as various pieces of information related to finance, capacity-building, technology transfer, etc. As this reporting informs future planning and policymaking, the integration of gender is key to ensuring accountability as well as planning for future negotiations and actions that recognize the role of gender in effective climate action.

Response Measures

Mitigation actions the Parties take under the Convention may have environmental, social, and economic impacts, both domestic and cross-border, and to address that, response measures may be taken unilaterally, bilaterally, or multilaterally. To better ensure that we maximize the positive impacts while minimizing the negative ones, gender considerations must be taken into account.


Compliance is critical to ensuring the Paris Agreement is implemented in a gender-responsive manner and ultimately achieves its aims, recognizing gender equality is a vital element of effective climate action. All gender-related compliance decisions thus far refer to the gender balance of committees, beginning with the Compliance Committee for the Kyoto Protocol.

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples, like references to gender and women, are often referenced in UNFCCC decisions throughout the negotiations. This theme within the Gender Mandates of the Gender Climate Tracker will not refer to any text where indigenous peoples and gender are referenced, as they are often referenced in similar or adjoining text, but will indicate where gender is referenced and integrated into texts where the main focus is indigenous peoples, such as the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform.


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