Quick Analysis

Since we began tracking the data in 2008, there has been an increase in women’s participation in the process, both in overall participation and at the highest levels of decision-making. This long-term progress can be attributed to various factors: 

  1. The adoption of decisions promoting women’s participation in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts at the UNFCCC.
  2. The implementation of gender quotas and the introduction of climate change and gender plans at the national level.
  3. The introduction of initiatives by civil society to enhance women’s leadership in climate change negotiations. 

Looking at the most recent years of data, however, shows that progress is inconsistent and in some areas, stalled. 

Women’s Participation on Party Delegations

The most prominent space that determines global climate policy is the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The most recent one, COP27, showcased the lack of progress in achieving gender balance since women delegates accounted for 35.6% of all national Party delegates. Although this amount demonstrated an increase in regards to the previous COP26 (with 34.8% women participation), these proportions were lower than pre-pandemic COPs. Likewise, in COP27 women only encompassed 20.0% of Heads of Delegation, revealing an increase from COP26 (13.4%) but a decrease from previous COPs. 

In addition, research shows that gender imbalances differ across countries and regions. Women’s participation in Eastern and Western Europe, for example, is often above 45%, while it is often at or below 35% in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. These differences can also be seen when looking at participation by UNFCCC negotiating blocks, with countries from the African Group, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and OPEC having less representation of women on national delegations. 

Overall participation by regions

Highest participation:

  • Western Europe: 46.36%
  • Latin America: 45.98%

Lowest participation:

  • Asia: 32.14%
  • Africa: 32.24%
Women’s Participation on Constituted Bodies

In reference to the constituted bodies of the UNFCCC, the Adaptation Committee has the highest women’s representation (81%). It is worth noting that out of 17 bodies, only 3 have more than 50% women’s participation (Adaptation Committee, Paris Committee on Capacity Building and Facilitative Working Group). The bodies with lowest women’s participation were the Technology Executive Committee and the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism, both with 10%. 


As seen, women’s access to and influence in UNFCCC negotiations still has some way to go before reflecting a truly gender-balanced process. Women remain widely underrepresented on the delegations of many countries, particularly in high-level positions, as well as on the delegations of countries most vulnerable to climate impacts. Likewise, the UN official bodies have consistently demonstrated a lack of gender balance. Certain countries, regions, bodies and negotiating blocks are more marked than others by these tendencies.

Relevant sources
  1. WEDO (2012), Women’s Participation in UN Climate Negotiations, 2008-2012
  2. WEDO (2014), Ensuring Women’s Access and Influence on Climate Change Policy, 2008-2014 
  3. WEDO (2022), Women's Participation in 2022

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