Why we need gender-responsive climate finance

Source(s): Girls' Globe
Upload your content
Three Indian female textile workers standing together in solidarity at factory

What is climate finance?

The United Nations defines climate finance as any monetary contribution that "seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change". This includes money that climate-vulnerable developing countries receive from developed countries who bear more historical responsibility for the climate crisis.  

In 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, developed countries pledged to collectively mobilize $100 billion per year to support climate action in developing countries. However, this target has been consistently missed. In partnership with ODI, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (of which Plan International is a member) has spent the last few years tracking contributors' contributions, and identifying who is most to blame for the persistent underfunding that has characterized the effort since its inception.  

It's clear today that even if this goal had been met, it would still fall far short of what is needed to adequately meet the urgent needs of developing countries. The global cost of mitigation efforts is expected to reach around $4 trillion by 2030, while the annual figure required for adaptation is between $160-340 billion by 2030, rising to between $315-565 billion by 2050. Then there are the costs of climate-induced losses and damages, estimated to reach over $1 trillion by 2050.  

How can climate finance improve gender equality?

The climate crisis has worsened the frequency and intensity of natural hazards such as storms, floods, and droughts. When extreme weather events significantly impact a community, they tend to have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, particularly those living in poverty.   

During extreme weather events, disruption to health services further increases the chances of unplanned pregnancies and sexual and reproductive health complications. Additionally, a lack of comprehensive sexuality education before, during and after extreme weather events can limit girls' understanding of and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) information and services.   

Evidence shows that adolescent girls also face protection issues after disasters and when migrating as they are particularly susceptible to violence and exploitation - including rape, sexual and gender-based violence and abuse, and trafficking. Unsustainable livelihoods putting pressure on family income can also lead to negative coping strategies, including child, early and forced marriage.  

When resources are stretched in the aftermath of a climate-induced disaster, girls' education is deprioritized in favour of that of boys. Girls' lack of access to education - a denial of their rights - compounds their vulnerability as they have limited access to timely and lifesaving early warning mechanisms, as well as general information about what to do in a disaster. The domestic workload for female members of the household also increases dramatically.  

Social norms often result in women and girls being left out of the decision-making process during planning for climate hazards, resulting in action that does not take their specific needs and vulnerabilities into account, exacerbating existing inequalities further still.   

Providing climance financing tailored to meet the particular needs and priorities of women and girls, as well as addressing the addressing the root causes of gender inequality, has multiplier effect of supporting development and reducing the impacts of the climate crisis. Gender responsive climate finance can therefore make a significant positive and lasting impact to the lives of women and girls in climate-vulnerable communities.  

What's going wrong?

Despite making commitments to promote gender equality in climate finance, developed countries consistently fail to deliver. For example, it'd be reasonable to expect all providers of climate finance to ensure that it includes gender equality as an objective by default - especially as there is already a mechanism in place for doing this, in the form of the OECD's gender markers.   

However, in 2021, out of a total of $28.2 billion in adaptation funding provided by developed countries, less than half was reported to also have gender equality as an important but not principle objective, with only 2.9% having gender equality as the principle purpose.  Of the remaining projects, some explicitly did not have gender equality as an objective or were not screened.   

Lack of transparency presents one of the biggest obstacles to improving gender equality though climate finance. Boldly-worded commitments to pursuing gender equality in the climate context are easy to find - Sustainable Development Goal 5, 2010's Cancun Agreements, and some individual countries' self-described 'feminist' approaches to international development - but true accountability will only come when all countries commit to increasing climate finance addressing the specific gender relate challenges and barriers, and screen all projects using OECD's gender markers.  

How does it get fixed?

A positive take-away from the findings of our recent research into gender equality in climate adaptation finance is that some countries like Canada, the Netherlands and Luxembourg show how countries can screen 100% of the climate adaptation finance they provide to developing countries. Moreover, all three have targeted gender equality in more than 80% of the funds provided for climate adaptation. The countries that are falling behind, including France, Germany and Japan, can begin by following their example.   

This year's negotiations to determine a new collective goal for climate finance, replacing the target set at COP15, present a significant opportunity to drive progress on this issue. While there is much to be ironed out before the deadline of the COP29 climate summit in November, there's no reason that the agreement can't include gender-responsiveness as a priority, and outline ways to make it work in practice.   

This is a watershed moment for the international community; getting this right will have a monumental impact on the lives of women and girls all over the world, especially those already highly vulnerable to climate disasters.  

What can I do?

The gap between what has been provided so far by developed countries, and what is actually required to address the climate crisis, is vast -- and it will take significant public pressure to address this.  

You can play your part by contacting your representatives in government and urging them to engage with the issue of gender equality in climate finance -- especially if you live in a country that is currently underperforming. When it comes to determining the new climate finance goal at COP29, there is a real risk that political considerations will hinder developed countries' levels of commitment and ambition -- but for the sake of communities already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, that can't be allowed to happen.   

You can also connect with your friends, family, colleagues and community groups, and encourage them to learn more about the unmissable opportunity that this year offers for improving the lives of women and girls around the world.   

Global attention on the issue of climate finance is expected to build as we approach COP29, but with the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events continuing to increase, there is no time to lose. Decision-makers must deliver the radical change that climate-vulnerable communities - and women and girls in particular - desperately need.

Explore further

Share this

Please note: Content is displayed as last posted by a PreventionWeb community member or editor. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of UNDRR, PreventionWeb, or its sponsors. See our terms of use

Is this page useful?

Yes No
Report an issue on this page

Thank you. If you have 2 minutes, we would benefit from additional feedback (link opens in a new window).