Issue 129 - March 10 - Ban Appoints Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, All-Male Composition Troubles Advocates

New York, March 10, 2010 - On March 4, the UN Secretariat announced the members of the new High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing. The Advisory Group, appointed by Secretar-General Ban Ki-moon, consists of 19 experts on development and international finance, including four heads of state. Notably, all 19 members are male.

The Advisory Group is being established as part of the Copenhagen Accord (the outcome agreement of the December 2009 conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Copenhagen, Denmark). The Group will issue its findings ahead of the next meeting of the UNFCCC at the end of 2010.

The Group will be co-chaired by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The omission of women from the Group has aroused the concern of development, environment and women's groups, who have asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to expand the Group to include female officials.

Purpose of Panel

Launched by the Secretary-General on February 12, the Advisory Group is an effort to mobilize several billion dollars a year to help developing countries respond to climate change. In Article 8 of the Accord, Member States present at the Conference agreed to commit USD 30 billion to developing countries until 2012, followed by 100 billion a year until 2020. The Advisory Group itself will work to "identify effective mechanisms" for raising this amount. The funds will support mitigation (reducing emission of greenhouse gases) as well as adaptation (resilience to changes from warming) in developing countries.

Per Article 9 of the Copenhagen Accord, the Advisory Group will report to the governing body of the UNFCCC.

The Group will meet for the first time in London on March 29 and aims to submit recommendations to the UNFCCC signatories (known collectively as the Conference of Parties, or COP) and to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before the next conference of the UNFCCC (in Cancún, Mexico, beginning in late November 2010).

Composition of Panel

In addition to the leaders of the UK and Ethiopia who will co-Chair the Advisory Group, participating heads of state include President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway.

The remaining 15 members are experts on development and international finance gathered from international academia, government ministries and central banks. 

Ban emphasized the need to achieve an "even balance between developing and developed countries," on the Panel. Almost half of the 19 experts are nationals of or directly represent the interests of developing countries.

Panel Members:

Heads of State and Government

  • Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Co-Chair)
  • Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Co-Chair)
  • Bharrat Jagdeo, President of the Republic of Guyana
  • Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Other members

  • Pedro Luiz Carneiro de Mendonça, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Technological Affairs, Ministry of External Relations, Brazil
  • Soumaïla Cissé, President, Commission of the West African Monetary Union
  • Ernesto Cordero Arroyo, Minister of Finance, Mexico
  • Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank
  • Caio Koch-Weser, Vice-Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group
  • Jean-Pierre Landau, Second Deputy Governor, Bank of France
  • Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency for National Planning, South Africa
  • Bob McMullan, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Australia
  • Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, Special Adviser to the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
  • Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Finance, Singapore
  • Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India
  • Lawrence H. Summers, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, United States
  • George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management
  • Nicholas Stern, Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics
  • Zhu Guangyao, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Finance, People's Republic of China

Reactions to All-male Composition

The all-male composition of the Advisory Group is notable, especially given Secretary-General Ban's recent efforts to increase the participation and leadership of women in high-level bodies.

Concerns about the omission of female experts relate to the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change, and the widely recognized benefits of including women in creating climate change solutions.

In "The UN's Men's Club," representatives of Oxfam America and Population Action International write, "Leaving women out is ... unwise given the ultimate objective of the advisory group. This elite club will frame and shape climate change financial flows to the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. We know that women are disproportionately represented among both of these groups and are often on the front lines of climate change. In developing countries, because of their role as primary providers of food, water, and fuel for their families, women are both the most affected by climate change and a pivotal force for building responses to direct climate impacts. We also know that women are frequently the decision-makers about household consumption, and represent an increasing share of wealth around the world."

In sum, "women will bear the brunt of the effects of climate change and are key to any climate solutions."

The Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) is collecting signatures for an open letter to Secretary-General Ban regarding the same concerns: "women and men feel the impacts of climate change differently, and women and men both have capacities, expertise and roles to play in responding to the threats of climate change effectively and efficiently. Moreover, climate change is a threat to sustainable development, to which gender equality and equity is a well-known prerequisite."

WEDO suggests several possible candidates for members of the Group:

  • Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile
  • Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy on Climate Change to UN, Norway
  • Pia S. Cayetano, Senator, Philippines
  • Graciela Chichilnisky, Economist, Argentina
  • Tarja Halonen, President of Finland
  • Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia
  • Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines
  • Rebeca Patricia Santos Rivera, Minister of Finance, Honduras
  • Mariama Williams, Economist, Jamaica
  • Dessima Williams, Ambassador to the UN, Grenada

In September 2009 Secretary-General Ban noted that women should be "key decision makers on climate change" and should "play an equally central role in carrying out these decisions." He said, "we must do more to give greater say to women in addressing the climate challenge."