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Azerbaijan’s Cop29 Committee: “A step forward, but gender equality in climate leadership requires urgent attention”


In what appears a response to earlier criticism, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan has expanded the Cop29 organizing committee to include 12 women, a commendable move addressing the initial all-male composition.

The development marks progress but achieving genuine gender balance within the committee remains an essential objective.

Criticism from global campaign groups like She Changes Climate and prominent figures such as former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres emphasizes the need for diverse representation in decision-making bodies addressing key global issues like climate change.

Recognizing that climate change affects each and every one of us, a diversity of perspectives is essential for formulating effective solutions.

The inclusion of accomplished women including Umayra Taghiyeva, Sabina Aliyeva, and Bahar Muradova in the committee is a positive step toward inclusivity.  These women bring valuable expertise that will undoubtedly enhance the committee’s approach to tackling climate challenges comprehensively.

However, it is essential to view this as a starting point. As emphasized by Elise Buckle, co-founder of She Changes Climate, progress has been made, but achieving genuine gender balance is an ongoing journey. The urgency of addressing climate change requires a commitment to ensuring diverse voices are proportionately represented at decision-making tables.

It is noteworthy that the majority of Cop29 committee members are government officials, some with ties to the fossil fuel industry. The choice of Azerbaijan as the Cop29 host, following the UAE’s hosting of Cop28, raises questions about host countries’ alignment with the overarching goals of combating climate change. This amid concerns about Azerbaijan’s commitment to the global shift away from fossil fuels, particularly considering its plans to increase fossil fuel production.

The president-designate for Cop29, Mukhtar Babayev, with a background in the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, highlights the interconnectedness of key positions in climate negotiations with the fossil fuel industry.

This calls for a reassessment of potential conflicts of interest and a clear commitment to transitioning away from fossil fuels, aligning with the urgency stressed by scientists regarding the climate crisis.


The writer is the Human Resource and partnership manager at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and founder Leaders Africa: An Emotional wellness community

Ann Makena Kobia
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