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Progress on gender in climate change policies and financing mechanisms

Banner - Shubert Ciencia The international climate change architecture is complex and constantly shifting as new agreements and mechanisms come into being, or existing ones are amended. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the overarching international framework for addressing climate change.  But the landscape of climate change policy and financing mechanisms at global, regional and national levels is vast and complex, and coherence not easy to achieve.

Gender as a standing item in the global climate talks

Persistent lobbying by gender and climate change advocates, such as the Global Gender and Climate Alliance and Women & Gender Constituency under the UN climate change convention ,UNFCCC, their governments and other civil society allies, has led to some positive shifts in global climate change policy and financing mechanisms in recent years. After being sidelined for many years,  gender equality is now a standing agenda item in the UNFCCC, which means that it receives dedicated ‘airtime’ in each round of negotiations. But the issue remains contested. While some parties are pushing for gender-equitable policy, others are unwilling to take this further than achieving gender balance among the delegations and technical bodies working under the UNFCCC.

Navigating politics within the United Nations

The countless negotiation items in the UNFCCC, including gender and other social questions, often fall victim to trade-offs in the countdown toward a universal UN agreement.
Global climate change policy is an ever-changing labyrinth, so staying on top of it to influence the process is a time-intensive race against time. Several organisations have dedicated staff focusing entirely on this policy process and its related mechanisms, and produce useful guidance as a result - see for example the regular updates by the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO).

Progress on climate finance and national climate policy

The above challenges notwithstanding, the UNFCCC decision to include gender as an agenda item represents significant progress, and in March 2015, the Green Climate Fund - the most significant global effort to pool and disburse finance for action on climate change - was the first to adopt a gender policy and action plan prior to initiating spending. This is remarkable, given that all other global climate financing institutions to date had to ‘retrofit’ their setup and funding criteria and process to reflect gender principles.

Things are also progressing at national levels where, especially in low and middle income countries, the number of policies and action plans on gender and climate change is growing. The International Union for Conservation and Development’s Gender & Climate Change Action Plan (ccGAP) initiative is one critical effort to reduce the 'implementation gap' between ambitious policies on the one hand and often poor real outcomes on the other, and their 2013 report features the action plans developed by eleven countries, from Haiti to Nepal.

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A Fair Climate: Gender Equity in Forestry and REDD+ Discussion Guide
Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific 2014
Discussion guide to be used by facilitators alongside a training video, concerning gender equity in forest management contexts. The training video which highlights and emphasises the importance of gender equality in all levels ...
The art of implementation: gender strategies transforming national and regional climate change decision making
R. Pearl-Martinez; L. Aguilar; F. Rogers; J. Siles / World Conservation Union 2012
This publication shares IUCN’s experiences in developing gender-responsive national strategies and roadmaps on climate change. It outlines the steps and elements of creating a ccGAP (climate change gender action plans) or ...
Climate justice and women’s rights: a guide to supporting grassroots women’s action
A. Davis; L. Rope; U. Miniszewski / Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management 2015
This guide aims to increase timely and appropriate funding for worldwide climate action initiatives led by women and their communities. It highlights that women are particularly vulnerable to the threats posed by climate change...
Loss and Damage in a warmer world: whither gender matters? Gender perspectives on the Loss and Damage debate
S. Neelormi; A., U. Ahmed / Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative 2012
Is the gender dimension adequately embedded in the loss and damage agenda? Many vulnerable countries will have to deal with unavoidable residual impacts of climate change which will result in loss and damage...