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COP27 Is Over – Here’s Our Delegates’ Recap 

The 27th United Nations climate change conference (COP27) started on November 6 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Attended by more than 90 heads of state and representatives of nearly 200 countries, COP27 is now behind us. Ten delegates from across globe represented WILPF at the largest global annual climate conference. Here’s what our delegates will remember of it.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
1 December 2022

First, meet the delegation!  

For the first time ever, the WILPF delegation was selected based on an open and transparent application process.  A strong, dynamic delegation of ten WILPF members from Cameroon, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Germany, the United States and Canada as well as our International President, Sylvie Jaqueline Ndongmo and the International Secretariat’s Environment Focal Point represented our organisation.

Head over to this Twitter thread for a more detailed introduction of each delegate.  

On the importance of our presence 

WILPF brought messages of demilitarisation and gender justice for climate justice to COP27. These interconnected issues are raised by few other civil society organisations. Our advocacy messages centred around the appeal to countries reduce military spending and to re-allocate it to climate financing and as well as to a gender-responsive just transition away from fossil fuels. 

With hundreds of civil society representatives, activists, and affected communities from across the globe gathering each year at COPs, WILPF used this opportunity for networking and movement building. We have formed new friendships and alliances that we will continue to deepen for our continued struggle for climate justice and peace.  

As this COP took place on the African continent, WILPF amplified the demands by African feminists as part of the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC), of which WILPF is a member.  With the majority of WILPF’s delegation from African countries, delegates were able to share lived experiences with state representatives, civil society groups, practitioners, and others present at COP27. They have returned home with many learnings, and a strong foundation for further work on the intersections between climate, gender, and peace in their context. 

A look back at the key moments 

Feminist joy radiating from WILPF International President, Sylvie Jaqueline Ndongmo, at a convening of African feminists at the sidelines of COP27.

Collective power & solidarity 

At this COP, WILPF witnessed and participated in the beautiful diversity and solidarity of a global grassroots climate justice movement, through joint actions and protests, and by listening to personal stories in side events, panels, and chats over coffee. It allowed WILPF to build alliances with other organisations and activists and pave the way for future collaborations. Michelle Benzing, member of WILPF Germany describes her COP27 highlights, particularly around global solidarity: “The real change at COP27 came from the people. With powerful protests civil society held the big polluters accountable, demanding reparations for loss and damage, cancellation of debts, the protection of human rights, demilitarisation, gender justice and the centring of the perspectives of the most marginalised at the negotiation tables. (…)” 

Annie Matundu-Mbambi, WILPF DRC, participating in a protest for climate justice at COP27.

Witnessing a landmark agreement: the loss and damage fund 

While the final outcome of this COP has failed to ensure urgent climate action, we were witnesses to this COP’s landmark decision to establish a loss and damage fund to address the devastating consequences of the climate crisis. This historic outcome is a result of decades long activism and advocacy by civil society and leaders from the Global South and their allies. The decision shows that the United Nations can achieve results. Ayo Ayoola-Amale from WILPF Ghana reflects on this big milestone: “I am excited about the new fund that was agreed to at COP27, to help developing countries cope with the losses and damages suffered due to climate breakdown. This fund is absolutely vital. The challenge now is how to resource the fund and how to ensure a gender-responsive approach to developing climate policy that is crucial to advancing gender equality and climate justice. Remember, no gender equality, no climate justice.”

Aubine Zambou, WILPF Cameroon; Annie Matundu-Mbambi, WILPF DRC; Sylvie Jaqueline Ndongmo, International President; Katrin Geyer, International Secretariat Environment Focal Point and Tamara Lorincz, WILPF Canada and convener of the International Environment Working Group at a debrief meeting after the first week at COP27.

Awareness is growing on interdependency of peace and the environment 

While the formal negotiations have (not yet) addressed the important interlinkages of peace, demilitarisation and reallocation of military spending to climate finance, we were heartened to see a growing awareness around the various interlinkages of peace and the ecological crisis. The number of state initiatives as well as events hosted on environmental impacts of war, military emissions, as well as on the broader links of peace, human rights, and the environment has never been higher at a COP. We are now plotting how we can meaningfully build on this momentum going forward. Tamara Lorincz from WILPF Canada and Convener of the International Environment Working Group (EWG) reflects on her motivations to redouble her work for climate justice: “I met with many activists from the Global South and listened to their distressing stories of how global warming is worsening and adversely affecting their lives. Their stories of struggle have led me to redouble my efforts to call for military spending to be cut for climate financing to help countries in the Global South adapt to climate change and deal with loss and damage.” 

Some great lessons… and disappointment 

Having experienced COP first-hand, the WILPF delegation, as so many others, has been frustrated with the increasing corporate capture of COP. The conference often appeared more like a greenwashing expo space for countries and corporations. No COP has seen more fossil fuel lobbyists than this year, while access for civil society was heavily restricted. Coca Cola was one of the key sponsors of this year’s global climate talks while a small handful of states shut down the opportunity to call for the phase-out of all fossil fuels. Against this backdrop, Edwick Madzimure, WILPF Zimbabwe reflects on these unequal power dynamics: “There is need to stop climate imperialism. If the major emitters continue making the decisions, how will justice prevail in those rooms? COPs have been going on for the past 27 without tangible results, this shows that as grassroots communities we must make coming up with home grown solutions to the climate shocks a priority.” 

In terms of gender justice, this year’s COP offered the overwhelming impression that climate negotiations are still men’s business. At this year’s COP27, women made up less than 34 per cent of country negotiating teams. COP27 was also tasked with reviewing progress and challenges of the five-year Gender Action Plan (GAP). The review process lacked substance, parties failed to prioritise this agenda item throughout COP27, and civil society experts were shut out of negotiations. States parties ignored key demands for gender-just climate action by the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC). 

However, we know that there is no climate justice without gender justice. Nouha Ghosseini, WILPF Lebanon, reflects on this aspect in more detail: “It is time to demand equal representation of women in political circles (…), climate action committees, and so on, at local and national levels.  Without women leaders in the climate movement, the solutions and responses to the climate emergency will continue to exclude women’s needs and compromise their rights. WILPF stands ready to listen and amplify their voices and support women at the forefront of climate action around the world who are advocating for environmental [justice] (…).” Similarly, Aubine Zambou from WILPF Cameroon underscores that “Women (…) have the capacity, the courage, the strength to lead for environmental protection.” 

In light of the above, our International President Sylvie Ndongmo concludes: Our participation at COP has once more highlighted the strength of collective action and power. Women’s voices were loud and clear despite slow response and action from the main polluters. The deaf ears of key stakeholders should not discourage women and make them relent their efforts to demand climate justice which is an imperative for sustainable peace.” 

What happens now?  

While WILPF members have participated in past COPs, this has been the first COP where delegates were selected based on an open and transparent application process. The selected delegation, with the support of the International Environment Working Group (EWG), has been working for many months in preparation of this conference. Now it’s time to reflect on achievements and challenges, and to lay the foundation for future work around COPs, and climate justice more broadly. Watch this space! 

If you want to learn more about our work on the environment, peace, and feminism, head to our dedicated webpage. If you want to get involved in the international Environment Working Group, reach out to our Environment Focal Point Katrin Geyer (katrin.geyer(a)wilpf.org)!  

Want to go further?

Why can’t there be climate justice without demilitarisation?

Impact of the Climate Crisis on Women, Peace, and Security in MENA

How the West has Militarised & Impoverished the African Continent

Appeal to UNFCCC to Study Climate Impacts of Military Emissions and Military Spending for Climate Financing

Global Appeal to Reduce Military Spending and Re-Allocate to Climate Financing

We Need a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to Stop Violence Against African Women and Our Continent

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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