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COP27: Wins and Losses on Government Action, Peoples’ Movements Are Not Defeated

“Women have the knowledge and wisdom

to build the solutions to address this global crisis."

Neema Namadamu, WECAN Democratic Republic of Congo Coordinator,

Founder of Hero She Rising, Democratic Republic of Congo

Women leaders speak out during the WECAN COP27 Side Event, “Women for Climate Justice Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change,” in Egypt 2022. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN

Welcome to the WECAN COP27 report back. We have divided the report back into two main sections, the top section contains analysis of COP27 outcomes, and the bottom section shares WECAN advocacy efforts, events, actions, protests, and media coverage from COP27.

Additionally, please find live streams of our advocacy work available on Facebook here. A full photo album from COP27 is also available here.


On November 20th, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt finally came to a conclusion after many late nights, with the adoption of the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan.

This year’s COP27 was heralded as the African COP, as well as the Implementation COP, seeking to not only lift up the leadership of African countries but also to move forward the Paris Climate Agreement goals. However, governments failed to fully actualize either of these aims.

While the Plan includes the historic development of Loss and Damage financing, which we truly celebrate after decades of advocacy by climate justice movements, it continues to recklessly delay phaseout of all fossil fuels. The cover text also lacks any substantive language on Indigenous rights, human rights, advancement on the Gender Action Plan, and ignores key demands of civil society. Governments also pushed forward more pathways for dangerous carbon market mechanisms during negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement (more details below), which will also negatively impact communities and ecosystems.

Without the urgent action and ambition needed to cut emissions commensurate with staying below 1.5 degrees warming and with the exclusion of an all fossil fuel phaseout and rights-based language, the final text is an affront to the many communities worldwide facing the extreme and threatening impacts of the climate crisis, as it continues to allow governments to delay adaptation and mitigation efforts, and sideline civil society’s calls for climate justice and rights-based approaches. This will inevitably lead to disaster for frontline communities on the African continent and around the world, and ultimately all communities will be harshly impacted.

Youth activists hold a banner that says “1.5” to Stay Alive” at the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice held inside the COP27 venue in Egypt, 2022. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN

A report from UN Climate Change released ahead of COP27, found that implementation of the current pledges by governments puts the world on track for 2.5C warming by the end of the century. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Current government commitments are simply unacceptable.

WECAN was at COP27 to ensure women’s voices and solutions in all their diversity were centered within the negotiations through our advocacy, side events, press conferences, and direct actions. This year, BBC reported that women made up less than 34% of country negotiating teams at the UN summit in Egypt. Additionally, out of 110 world leaders present at COP27 only seven were women.

Women are not only experiencing the brunt of climate impacts, but are also drivers of climate action! Women, feminists, and gender-diverse leaders are at the forefront of our movements and on-the-ground solutions, and at COP27, were strong leaders in collective advocacy for the final approval of the Loss and Damage fund. Every day of the two-week convention, peoples' movements and civil society powerfully showed up to provide a vision moving forward grounded in just climate solutions that combat systemic inequity and harm to the Earth.

With this in mind, we join many voices from global peoples’ movements in expressing extreme disappointment and frustration with the COP27 outcomes that ultimately further capitalist, racist, colonial, and patriarchal policies, which continue harming frontline communities and women first and worst. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the climate talks continue to reflect unjust systems that are central to the root causes of the climate crisis, such as neoliberal economic models that drive the destructive commodification of nature, and the implementation of market-based mechanisms that most often harm people and the planet.

Attending international forums such as COP27 is one important component of WECAN’s multifaceted strategy to address the climate crisis and the root causes of environmental degradation and socio-economic inequalities. We recognize the importance of governments coming together to address the climate emergency, and yet we know that most of the urgent forward progress is in the hands of the people —with community-led solutions, on-the-ground projects, and movement building for global climate justice.

Global Indigenous leaders march through the COP27 venue during the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice in Egypt, 2022. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN

In light of this, WECAN intentionally participates in the UN climate talks to advance an inside-outside strategy as we hold governments, corporations, and their financial backers accountable. It is vital that civil society continues to hold space and intervene with an inside strategy, or COP outcomes would be far worse for our communities and the Earth.

People power does work. The Loss and Damage mechanism is a victory, and we also recognize that it is only a shell at this point and there will need to be massive ongoing efforts to push for implementation. Yet, this victory is a testament to nearly three decades of organizing amongst impacted countries and civil society. We will need this same focused effort to now phaseout fossil fuels, uplift gender equity, Indigenous sovereignty and human rights, and further push governments to declare a climate emergency and act swiftly to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

It is imperative that nations listen to the demands and calls to action from feminist movements, civil society, and all those fighting for just climate action. As in past years, the Women and Gender Constituency remained a powerful force in coordinating impactful advocacy moments, influencing negotiations, and uplifting the demands of African feminists.

We also want to spotlight the extreme constraints of civil society at COP27 in Egypt, which limited civil society’s ability to mobilize outside of the COP venue. Nevertheless, global movements took courageous action in solidarity with political prisoners in Egypt and beyond, calling for the release of Alaa Abd El Fattah— one of an estimated 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt— and other political prisoners and human rights defenders. As governments seek to restrict the advocacy efforts of civil society, we stand proudly, echoing the movement’s call: “No climate justice without human rights.” We will continue to support women land and human rights defenders and act in solidarity with those in Egypt and beyond fighting for their rights to freedom of speech and a healthy and just future.

Frontline leaders and constituency focal points lead the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice inside COP27 in Egypt. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN

WECAN was honored to have participated in COP27 with our incredible frontline women leaders delegation— advocating, speaking out, movement building and engaging at every level with governments alongside global climate movement leaders and feminists for climate justice. We uplifted gender-responsive climate policies; Indigenous and human rights; rights of nature; phasing out all fossil fuels; saying no to false solutions and yes to community-led initiatives; decolonizing our economies, and so much more.

While governments failed to meet the urgency of this moment, failed to meet the title of “Implementation COP”, and further obstructed urgent just climate action, the global climate justice movement made clear that we can succeed when the demands of frontline communities are centered. We are thankful for all the collective organizing and relationships we deepened in our time in Egypt— for People and Planet!

At the high-level closing session at COP27 in Egypt, Helena Gualinga, Kichwa Indigenous youth climate leader, and WECAN COP27 Delegate left us with these parting words:

“I envision a future where we do not have to fear another flood, another fire, or finding another murdered protector of the Amazon. I envision a future where our children and your children do not have to fight for the future of humanity. I envision the Living Forest, the vision of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku that respects and ensures that the forest, the forest beings, and our people are permanently protected from extractive industries and other threats.”

Governments must commit to just climate action, and WECAN will continue to work ceaselessly and fiercely for solutions of women and frontline communities—fighting together for Mother Earth, the health of our communities, and generations to come.

Please read further to learn about outcomes from the negotiations, our WECAN delegates, events, actions, protests, and advocacy at COP26.