PHL fights for human and gender rights in climate negotiations

The Philippines spoke strongly yesterday to insert human rights and gender rights in the negotiating text of the climate negotiations. This is in light of the frustrations from different countries on the text that was whittled down to 20 pages with no reflections of the past negotiations.

Negotiating blocks such as the G77, Alliance of Small Island States, and Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) have called the text “imbalanced and lopsided,” “disadvantages and excludes,” and an “injustice.” Civil society and environmental groups have started using #UStext to refer to the text.

As countries demanded for the text to reflect which were already discussed in past negotiations, the text was opened for “surgical insertions” that allowed countries to put back which they thought were the “absolute must-have’s” of the text. These insertions were deemed crucial in order for negotiations to move forward which was at a deadlock as countries rejected the text.

“It was naive for co-chairs to assume that parties will accept the text,” says  Elenita ‘Neth’ Daño, Asia Director of Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group).

“You don’t go into negotiations knowing that it’s a losing battle. You enter a game where you agree to the rules. It was good to see developing countries speaking as one and reclaiming the text,” Daño added.

The Philippines submitted an insertion on human and gender rights to the preamble and the operational praragraph of the text. The Philippines proposed that “Parties should be guided by gender equality and ensure the full and equal participation of women in all climate actions and decision making processes.”

Tony La Vina, a negotiator from the Philippines said that, “Climate change is creating human rights violations. A global climate regime without human rights in the center does not make sense.”

This is a welcome insertion especially for women’s rights advocates who have been pushing for a gender responsive climate agreement and who did not see this reflected in the earlier text.

The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) said that they were “concerned and surprised” to see that human rights and gender equality “have been completely left out” of the earlier text.

“We are happy that the Philippines put that on the table yesterday. It is important for us to have human rights and gender equality in the text,” said Daño.

“Climate change is so central, so real for women than for anyone else,” says Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director on UN Women.

“It is a no brainer and it’s sad to see that we are having to struggle so much when it comes to referencing gender rights in the text. Unless you have women and gender in the preamble and the objectives, the response to climate change will not be clear. In order to address climate change, you have to involve half of the world’s population,” Puri added.

Asked about countries who have difficulty in supporting gender rights such as Saudi Arabia, Puri says they have a good sense that “almost everybody now understands why it is important to have women and gender reflected in the text.”

Other countries that pushed for the inclusion of human rights and gender rights in the text are Mexico and Bolivia.

The negotiations continue in Bonn with a new draft text. Countries are expected to work on ensuring that a strong foundation for a climate agreement is made before the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris starts in December.

The COP is a yearly meeting of countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that hopes to solve the climate crisis. A climate agreement in Paris will be crucial to stop global warming below 2 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels.


This article was originally published in GMA and Rappler.