Posted in: news

1st February 2022

For Years, The Global North Has Set The Climate Agenda. As COP27 Host, Egypt Can Achieve The Most Inclusive COP Ever

By Mary Robinson

Earlier this month, Egypt announced the appointment of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to lead the international climate talks in Sharm-el-Sheikh in November 2022. Alongside Minister Shoukry’s appointment as COP27 president, Egypt’s woman environment minister, Dr Yasmine Fouad (a leading climate scientist who co-chaired finance talks at COP26), was named COP27 Ministerial Coordinator and Envoy. We are hopeful that they will lead an inclusive process - one that can represent the Global South, which is disproportionately vulnerable to rising temperatures, drought, floods and population displacement.

Some progress was made at the COP26 negotiations in November 2021, but the summit in Glasgow was far from inclusive. In fact, it wascriticized as “the most exclusionary” climate conference to date. Pandemic-related complications are partially to blame; still, the event will be remembered for its under-representation of the Global South and lack of access for youth activists and people with disabilities. And while the gender balance of COP delegations has gradually improved since 1995, the average balance of delegations is 75% male to 25% female across all COPs to date. Policies that are designed without women’s participation exacerbate existing inequalities, hinder innovation and are a recipe for ineffective implementation.

Time is running out for people and our planet. We must get this right.

A growing body of evidence shows that climate action is best accelerated when the negotiating table equitably reflects the diversity of our world. Women’s leadership in national governments and local politics has led to improved outcomes for climate policies and action plans, and a strong correlation exists between gender diversity in corporate boardrooms and climate action. And beyond gender, we must include the most marginalised and climate-impacted - namely, the people and communities who are not responsible for our current crisis but disproportionately bear its brunt.

The case for inclusion is best understood through the many dimensions of climate inequity. Ultimately, climate change is a story of inequality. Those most impacted are the poorest countries and communities, as well as young people and future generations, who will inherit an escalating crisis they did not create.

Industrialised countries - including the United States, South Korea, Japan and European nations - built their economies (and their wealth) on fossil fuel. Developing countries are committed to going green, but they don’t have the technology or access to capital enjoyed by developed nations. Many in their populations do not even have access to reliable energy.