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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Closing the gap, boosting ambition: Investing in women key to climate action

Science shows that inclusive climate action increases resilience and produces better results, yet the financial support to address specific challenges and harness the contributions of half the world’s population – girls and women – in addressing the climate emergency falls woefully short. For International Women’s Day 2024, the UN Climate Change examines how closing this gap will boost climate action.

Women. Photo credit: UN Women/Joe Saade

“It is alarming that only 0.01% of global finance supports projects address both climate and women’s rights,” said Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations at COP28, underlining the need for more resources that goes towards gender-responsive climate initiatives, in other words, initiatives that respond to the needs of both women and men.

Although climate change affects everyone, it does not affect everyone equally. The political, economic, and social pressures on societies caused by a changing climate can perpetuate and magnify inequalities, such as the gender gap in access to education and employment opportunities, discrimination, lack of access to and control over land and natural resources, and participation in decision-making spaces.

Gender-responsive initiatives consider the different needs, roles, and responsibilities of women and men in all their diversity and ensure their equitable participation and representation in decision-making at all levels. The resulting climate actions are proven to be more efficient and inspire social cohesion, benefiting society as a whole.

In this sense, climate policy and action that does not include a gender perspective cannot achieve its full transformative potential.

Elevating Climate Ambition through Gender-Responsive Climate Finance

This year is crucial for both ambitious climate action and its chief enabler: finance. Over the course of 2024, countries will work on the next round of their national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to be submitted by 2025. As set out in the Paris Agreement, these NDCs must be more ambitious than previous ones, covering all areas of climate action including reducing emissions (mitigation) and strengthening resilience (adaptation).

Meanwhile at the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan in November, finance will be in focus as countries consider how to unlock the vast sums needed for ambitious climate action.

In short, this year is a key opportunity for countries to root gender-responsive action and finance at the heart of their climate strategies.

“The issue of funding is critical because without the necessary funding at both national and international levels, gender mainstreaming may remain in theory, but in terms of implementation it will not do much,” said Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe, Zimbabwe’s National Focal Point for Gender and Climate Change, at COP28.

According to a recent publication, some countries are already leading the way. St. Lucia has been working to collect gender-disaggregated data to enable gender-differentiated impacts to be considered in decision-making and planning on its climate actions, while Fiji has factored in the specific role of women in different economic spheres when implementing climate change adaptation activities.

In addition, a report by UN Climate Change on the doubling of adaptation finance found that gender-responsive approaches increase the overall effectiveness of adaptation finance. Accelerating climate action and resilience through gender-responsive finance is also the focus of this year’s Standing Committee on Finance Forum.

“Gender equality is not a ‘nice-to-have’, it is not a box to tick. It is a right. What is more, it is how we move from business as usual,” said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “Gender-responsive climate policies are crucial to close implementation gaps and gender-responsive finance can accelerate climate action and resilience for all, so they are key to achieving the highest possible climate ambition.”

Gender in the UN Climate Change process

Gender-responsive climate action has continuously been strengthened in the UN Climate Change process with the adoption of the first Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG) at COP20 (2014) and its successor, the enhanced LWPG and its gender action plan at COP25 (2019).

“Many countries have developed specific gender action plans to guide the implementation of their climate change policies on the ground and coordination networks with other stakeholders, like the private sector, to respond to the enhanced LWPG,” says Verania Chao of the UN Development Programme.

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