Azerbaijan adds women to COP committee after backlash

By on 24/01/2024 | Updated on 24/01/2024
Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev (right). Dept. of Defense photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro via Flickr

Azerbaijan has added 12 women to the COP29 organising committee, having initially announced an all-male line-up.

Earlier this month, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev announced the committee for this year’s global climate summit – which the country will host in November – which comprised 28 men and no women.

Following backlash from climate groups and dignitaries, it was reported less than a week after the initial announcement that 12 women had been added to the panel along with one additional man. This means women now account for little more than a quarter of the 41-member committee.    

By contrast, 63% of the members of the COP28 organising committee, held in the United Arab Emirates last month, were women.

Register to become a member of the Global Government Women’s Network

Christiana Figueres, who was the UN’s climate chief when the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, called Azerbaijan’s initial all-male panel “shocking and unacceptable”, while the She Changes Climate campaign group posted a statement on X (formerly Twitter), calling it a “regressive step in the journey towards gender parity in climate”.

“We ask for equal representation in the governance of this year’s climate talks, because climate change affects the whole world, not half of it,” it wrote.

The UK-based Women’s Equality Party also spoke out about the decision. “The world is on fire, our climate is in crisis, women are disproportionately affected. So what’s the COP29 committee’s revolutionary idea to save the planet? Excluding women from decision making… of course!”

Among the women now on the COP29 committee are Umayra Taghiyeva, the deputy minister of ecology and natural resources, the human rights commissioner, Sabina Aliyeva, and Bahar Muradova, the chair of the state committee on family, women and children’s problems.

Women and girls disproportionately affected by climate emergency

A UN report on feminist climate justice published late last year highlighted that gender inequalities and a failure to take gender issues into account in environmental policymaking have negative impacts for women and girls across a range of economic and social outcomes.  

It noted that women and girls are more vulnerable to disasters, and highlighted that rates of child marriage are increasing in places experiencing environmental stress, while droughts have been found to increase a preference for sons and cases of sex selective abortion, as well as a greater likelihood of girls dropping out of school.

Read more: UN introduces feminist climate justice framework for policymaking

“Without action to halt climate change, the world’s women and girls now face wholesale reversal of their human rights… [changing this] requires not tinkering around the edges but the transformation of every part of the world’s economies and societies,” the report said.

The report set out a framework for enabling women’s contribution towards climate justice and how it can be applied to policy in practice, and includes the need for representation of “women’s voices and agency”.

In October last year, the UN also called on countries to include women’s reproductive health in climate plans.

Controversy over Azerbaijan’s COP presidency

This is the second consecutive year that a petro-state has hosted COP. Azerbaijan’s economy is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and it has indicated plans to increase its fossil fuel production by a third over the next decade.

Mukhtar Babayev, the country’s minister of ecology and natural resources and COP29 president, previously spent 26 years working for the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Socar).

Concerns over conflicts of interest were also raised ahead of COP28 in Dubai. Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 president, is the current chief executive of the UAE’s state oil company, Adnoc. He was reported by The Guardian to have said during a COP28 event that there was “no science” indicating that a phaseout of fossil fuels was needed to restrict global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Al Jaber has said since COP that Adnoc is to continue to expand its oil and gas production.

Read more: Hard-fought COP28 agreement suggests the days of fossil fuels are numbered – but climate catastrophe is not yet averted

Join Global Government Forum’s LinkedIn group to keep up to date with all the insight public and civil servants need to know.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *