Advancing gender-responsive climate action: Policy brief reveals progress and challenges

Source(s): United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
An African woman standing in a corn field.
JonathanJonesCreate/Shutterstock

A recent policy brief from UN Climate Change underscores the increased integration of gender considerations in climate change adaptation plans across the globe. It reveals not only growing acknowledgment of the unique vulnerabilities women face amidst the climate crisis, but also growing recognition of women’s key contributions to effective adaptation.

The brief highlights a paradigm shift in the narrative on gender and climate change. While the specific vulnerabilities of women to climate impacts have intensified, there is also greater awareness of women’s unique strengths and crucial roles in adaptation efforts.

Climate change has gender-differentiated impacts on women, men and other sex and gender minorities, including the LGBTQI+ community. Each of these groups can benefit from tailored adaptation strategies that leverage their unique qualities.

Progress in adaptation plans

The brief provides a comprehensive overview of gender integration in current National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Adaptation Communications, and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs, national climate action plans).

Encouragingly, 97.5% of NAPs, 77.1% of Adaptation Communications, and 75% of NDCs submitted until December 2022 explicitly refer to gender, with a notable increase in the case of NDCs – 90% of the NDCs submitted in 2021 and 2022 mention gender, compared to 35% of those submitted in 2020.

However, only 50% of NDCs include gender-related adaptation actions, whereas a more substantial 95% of NAPs and 71.4% of Adaptation Communications incorporate gender-based adaptation action.

Gender-inclusive climate projects

Some of the projects and actions highlighted in the policy brief include:

  • Bhungroo, a gender-just climate solutions award-winning project, is a rainwater harvesting technology developed in Gujarat, India, supporting women in self-help groups respond to recurring droughts and floods that affect agricultural land.  
  • Guatemala has developed and implemented a gender strategy to reduce women-specific vulnerabilities to climate change and to ensure that women benefit from community-based gender-responsive measures. These include restoring mangrove ecosystems with the full participation of women’s groups; managing fisheries with the participation of women; and ensuring that at least 30% of forest area is managed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous women.  
  • Fiji recognizes women and girls as agents of change and drivers of climate-resilient development. It has identified the specific functions that women have in different sectors, such as selling farm produce or fishing, as entry points for women to play an active part in the implementation of adaptation activities in these areas.  
  • Canada has considered gender-differentiated climate impacts on LGBTQI+ individuals during extreme weather events. As a result of these groups experiencing higher vulnerability in Canada due to lower incomes and housing insecurity, they may be more exposed to the impacts of disasters such as fires and floods and have reduced access to emergency services. Despite challenges, Canada underscores the essential role gender and sexual minorities play in climate leadership because of the diversity of their unique experiences, which can be leveraged for effective climate action.

Recommendations for the way forward

The policy brief concludes with a set of recommendations aimed at further advancing gender-responsive adaptation. Key suggestions include strengthening the capacity for gender-disaggregated data collection, conducting gender analysis during the planning stages of adaptation plans, ensuring equitable representation in decision-making spaces, empowering women's groups, implementing locally and community-based projects, and incorporating gender-specific indicators in monitoring and evaluation processes.

UN Climate Change underscores the importance of recognizing the differentiated impacts of climate change, while also leveraging the unique strengths and perspectives of diverse groups to build resilient and effective adaptation strategies.

As the world grapples with the challenges posed by climate change, a gender-responsive approach emerges as not only ethically imperative but also strategically essential for achieving sustainable and impactful climate action.

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