COP15 – A win for women


By Sivaja Nair (, Programme Executive, ICSF, Chennai, India


The CBD COP15 (Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) offers a historic win for women all across the globe with a stand alone target on gender equality, a Gender Plan of Action supporting the gender responsive implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and a monitoring framework for the GBF with indicators assessing gender responsiveness in implementation.

Considering the fact that the disproportional brunt of biodiversity loss is felt by women because of gender disparities and differentiated gender needs and roles, the CBD Women’s Caucus, Civil Society organizations, women’s organizations and the Indigenous people fought hard during the two-week long negotiations to integrate a gender agenda to the forefront of the COP15. The results of these negotiations are quite transformative.

The target 23 of the GBF, ‘Ensure gender equality in the implementation of the framework through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the three objectives of the Convention, including by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resources and their full, equitable, meaningful and informed participation and leadership at all levels of action, engagement, policy and decision-making related to biodiversity’ incorporates aspects of access, opportunity and participation and can be treated as a significant step towards equity, equality and justice.

Likewise, the Gender Plan of Action with action-oriented objectives and implementation timelines and the monitoring framework for GBF with gender specific indicators is expected to play a key role in informing gender responsive policies at the national level. The gender specific outputs of the COP15 are anticipated to strengthen CBD contributions to global gender equality goals; however, the aspirational nature of these instruments raises concern over their translation to concrete actions. Moreover, although the Gender Plan of Action has reference to resource allocations for gender initiatives and gender responsive budgeting, the GBF is silent about resource allocation towards gender responsive initiatives.

Lack of resources has been pointed as a major barricade towards the implementation of the GBF constantly at the COP15, and the prioritization of gender specific initiatives in such a context of financial constrain is dubious. In addition to that the dissent of parties to adopt the language on ‘women in all their diversity and sexual orientation’ took back the negotiations by decades in time and has to be viewed as a lost opportunity towards a milestone.