“We are not defeated and we will never be defeated” reverberated and resounded across the Non-Governmental Organisation’s constituency statements of women and gender, children and youth and others at the Closing Plenary of Conference of the Parties (COP) 27.
COP27, held at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, this year has delivered a historic win with the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, which was long overdue for decades, especially to people in developing and vulnerable countries. In terms of key recent timelines, COP19 in 2013, had established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, to address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of climate events. Furthermore, the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage (SNLD) was established at COP25 in 2019 as part of the Warsaw International Mechanism (COP25/CMA2) to catalyse and implement relevant approaches for averting, minimising and addressing L&D at the local, national and regional level in developing countries particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change (Decision 2/CMA.2, para 43). At COP26 in 2021 at Glasgow, Parties decided on the functions of the Santiago Network and agreed to continue working to design effective institutional arrangements, operational modalities and financial arrangements for SNLD with decisions to be made at COP27.
At COP27 in 2022, Parties took the historic breakthrough decision to establish the dedicated Loss and Damage Fund to support developing countries in responding to loss and damage. An agreement was also reached to establish the transitional committee to operationalise the fund, with the first meeting of the transitional committee to take place in March 2023. This is indeed a historic win towards climate justice, that NOW NEEDS FOCUSED OPERATIONALISATION to ensure those affected by climate events, both extreme and slow onset events are supported, without getting into a blackhole (#wither100billion) of other commitments as the 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 by developed countries towards meaningful mitigation actions (COP15 in 2009).
It is crucial now to uphold human rights and gender equality, including SRHR, in the next steps towards the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund and establishing the institutional arrangements of the Santiago network. It is important to ensure such operationalisation is gender-responsive, and inclusive of Indigenous communities, women, girls and young people in all their diversity. The representation from the Global South in the leadership and decision-making is another critical indicator. ARROW’s research, monitoring and evidence has shown that climate change exacerbates already existing gender inequalities and gender-based violence among women and girls in all their diversity and in the context of climate crises much needed sexual and reproductive health information and services are deprioritised.
The “process of collective NGO constituency engagement” has been crucial in ensuring COP processes are relevant, grounded and meaningful. The committed working modality of the constituencies such as the women and gender, Indigenous people’s organisations, children and youth NGOs, and convergence of all constituencies to engage actively to provide inputs is important to the successful operalisationalisation of the L&D fund.
Parties should be accountable in leading the decisions and discussions around the operationalisation of the fund in the benefit of all Humanity and Planet Earth, and in this process look at the climate change issues at stake not just from the national perspective but from transnational perspective. The Pakistan exhibition poster at COP27 said it all– “WHAT HAPPENS IN PAKISTAN WON’T STAY IN PAKISTAN”, depicting what the future of our common planet can look like as a result of climate change. A grave reminder for all.
Finally, the biggest setback of COP27 included a lack of enhanced mitigation targets to keep the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrials levels ALIVE, and the lack of progress on the Gender Action Plan and the financial support for the implementation of the Gender Action Plan. Women and girls in all their diversity remained unprioritised at COP27. “We are not defeated and we will never be defeated!
by Sai Racherla
Deputy Executive Director, ARROW
 UNFCCC. 2022. Retrieved from https://unfccc.int/topics/adaptation-and-resilience/workstreams/loss-and-damage/warsaw-international-mechanism#:~:text=The%20COP%20established%20the%20Warsaw,that%20are%20particularly%20vulnerable%20to
 UNFCCC. 2022. Retrieved from https://unfccc.int/news/cop27-reaches-breakthrough-agreement-on-new-loss-and-damage-fund-for-vulnerable-countries
 UNSTATS. 2022. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/tierIII-indicators/files/13.a.1_Background.pdf
 The UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right in July 2022. UN. 2022. Retrieved from https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3983329?ln=en#record-files-collapse-header
 referring to the recent floods affecting 33 million people
 An indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet as per https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/05/1117842