Climate Funding Needs Gender Equity!

March 19, 2012
Climate Change Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Climate change – and climate change financing – is not gender-neutral

Women, who form the majority of the world’s more than one billion poorest people, are often
disproportionally affected by climate change impacts, largely due to persisting gender norms and
discriminations. Women and men also contribute to climate change responses in different ways and
have different capabilities to mitigate and adapt. Recent UNFCCC decisions in Cancun and Durban acknowledge that gender equality and the effective participation of women are important for all aspects of climate change, but especially for adaptation. Gender-responsive climate financing instruments and funding allocations are urgently needed. This is a matter of using scarce public funding in an equitable, efficient and effective way. It also acknowledges that climate finance decision are not made within a normative vacuum, but most be guided by acknowledging women’s rights as unalienable human rights.

Key principles and actions for integration gender-equality into climate financing instruments

A climate fund designed in a gender-responsive and integrating gender equality comprehensively

  •  include gender equality a guiding principle and cross-cutting issue and specify it as one of
    the goals of its actions;
  • strive for gender-balance on its governing bodies and in its secretariat;
  • make sure that there is gender-expertise among its staff to evaluate proposals for their
    contribution to gender equality;
  • write operational and funding guidelines that stipulate the inclusion of gender indicators and
    gender analysis in any project proposal and for any thematic funding area;
  • guarantee the input and participation of women as stakeholders and beneficiaries
  • apply a “best practice set of robust social, gender and environmental safeguards with
    comply with human and women’s rights conventions, labor standards and environmental
  • monitor for gender equality co-benefits as part of a results framework with regular reporting
    if and how funding activities are promoting gender equality;
  • base its funding on plans and proposals coming from the recipient countries, which were
    drafted in a gender-sensitive way with the participation and inclusion of relevant stakeholder groups in the process and decision-making, including women, particularly from local communities.
  • give its funding, specifically for adaptation, as grants, as increasing the indebtedness of
    recipient countries by giving large amount of climate financing as loans hurts women.
    (When social services are cut in budget consolidation efforts, women’s traditional care
    burdens increase.)
  • allow non-profit groups, including women’s group, to gain direct access to the Fund, for
    example via a designated small grants facility or special funding program for women and
    local communities;
  • establish an independent evaluation and recourse mechanism, which gives women in
    recipient countries affected negatively by climate financing the ability to have their
    grievances heard and addressed.

The status quo of existing climate funds and the prospects for the new Green Climate Fund

Currently, gender considerations are not addressed systematically in existing climate funds, but
have been introduced in bits and pieces as an afterthought. The new Green Climate Fund (GCF) has the opportunity to distinguish itself from existing funds by integrating a gender perspective from the outset. Its governing instrument contains several key gender references. The challenge is now to ensure these gender references are operationalized into concrete measures and mechanisms, for example in the form of mandatory gender indicators for adaptation, mitigation and forest protection financing and gender-inclusive stakeholder participation guidelines, as well as gender expertise in the new Fund’s secretariat. The outlook is not too bad since perception and awareness of the relevance of gender considerations in climate finance has increased among governments, multilateral organizsations (often acting as implementing agencies for existing funds) and a wider range of civil society organizations. However, further sustained advocacy and awareness-raising efforts are needed.

Addressing the accountability gap on gender and climate finance

At the moment, the lack of figures on how much has been invested so far in gender-responsive
climate projects or initiatives is a serious problem. Without numbers, there is no accountability.
Thus, we need regular and mandatory gender audits and gender tracking of climate funding to have
a gender accounting of how climate funds are spent and whom they benefit. One first possible step
to reduce the accountability gap could be easily made within the current OECD tracking system for
bilateral development assistance (ODA). Despite a multitude of new dedicated climate funds, ODA delivered via traditional bilateral and multilateral development agencies still forms a significant part of currently available public climate finance. It is technically feasible for the OECD to crossreference the existing OECD Gender Equality Marker (part of the global efforts for more aid effectiveness) with the Rio Markers for adaptation and mitigation and to provide to the public a summary analysis of the numbers, but it is currently not done. Having such numbers available – from bilateral and multilateral ODA and from dedicated climate funds – and being able to track and compare them over time would be a real way to create accountability for and thereby increase gender-responsive climate financing.

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Climate Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Challenges and Opportunities(Presentation)

Rousbeh Legatis interviews LIANE SCHALATEK, Associate Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in North America.