Gender Equality, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals

3-Day Online Training Program on “Gender Equality, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals”, May 27-29, 2021


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DAY 1: 27th May, 2021

A three-day Online Training Program on the theme “Gender Equality, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals” a joint initiative of National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi commenced on 27th of May, 2021.

Inaugurating the program, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to eminent panelists. She highlighted that climate change is real and is manifesting itself in different ways and forms on a regular basis and ensuring gender equality becomes very important as in the absence of it almost 50% of the population stands to be on the losing side making them vulnerable.


She highlighted that as scholars, practitioners and policymakers, there is need to understand the background, issues and problems thereby objectively analyzing them to chart the best ways forward.

Day 1 of the program included eminent speakers Prof Anil K Gupta Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi, Prof Vibhuti Patel Former Professor, TATA Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Dr Sukriti Chauhan Founder, Empower. Transform. Inspire. (ETI); Former Program Lead, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) with patron being Patron: Maj Gen Manoj K Bindal Executive Director, NIDM, New Delhi.


The co-convener of the program, Professor Anil K Gupta Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi expressed that the current journey of year 2015 – 2030 is for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)and is a period of very significant global paradigms of looking at development from entirely a more holistic and sustainable perspective. Humankind has observed great technological changes in every field and has observed changing complexities of challenges.

He highlighted that day by day the magnitude of complexities of disasters have increased from cyclones coming in the west and coasts of India, flood occurring in non-flood prone areas, emergence of urban drought like forest droughts , drinking water droughts and health droughts.

 He further underscored that there are increased social complexities on issues like empowerment of women, equity and equality in developing countries.

In India there has been lot of disparity where women had to face lot of challenges which often get aggravated by climate change impacts. Women in India spend most of their time in acquiring fundamental need of water and sanitation.

Talking about the implications of climate change, he stated that climate change implications leading to lack of access of water, food and energy at household level is one of the biggest challenged face in the country.

Prof Gupta said that we need to look at leadership qualities in women as the women’s capacity and strength to help address the challenge of climate change and to continue on the track of sustainable development role is immense.

It is important to acknowledge the role of women in each of the 17 SDG. He stressed the importance of technological dimensions in changing the life of women.

Sharing his views he thanked the organizers and expressed that the program would be beneficial in creating a better environment for the society through research contribution and case studies formulating a way to work together in bringing about a change on ground.

Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, TATA Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai


Sharing her views Prof Vibhuti Patel stated that the discourse of sustainable development began in year 2000 by United Nations. She highlighted the importance of SDG 13 which adheres to climate action.

She stated that the normative definition of sustainable development is one that meets the needs and aspirations of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet those of future generations.

Human development approach towards sustainable development enables individuals and communities in developing countries to raise living standards through just and fair trade, non-exploitative product pricing, and production processes consistent with minimizing adverse environmental effects. She further talked about Agenda 30 that urges to take action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Highlighting the vision of SDGs she stated that it is important to have sustainable development model which is aimed at inter-generational justice through economic growth, ecological sustainability, empowerment of the marginalized, and people’s participation in decision making.

She underlined the various pillars of sustainable development which include economic aspects of skills and employment, livelihood, social aspects of education, health, entitlements and environmental aspects of reduction of carbon footprints- coping with climate change.

Talking on gender concerns, Prof Patel stated that women in many developing countries are responsible for climatically sensitive tasks such as securing food, water and energy which ensure well-being of a household. The effects of climate change – droughts, floods, coastal erosion, sea level rise and rising temperatures – puts greater pressure on women to shoulder the adverse consequences on the household.

Despite women’s vulnerabilities, women’s knowledge and social practices could be used to build community resilience if women were included in adaptation and mitigation efforts with their participation in decision-making.

She highlighted the need of doing gender audit of micro- and macro-planning and program implementation and providing platform to women farmers, community workers, students and youth in concerning environmental issues.

Discussing the Indian experience, she pointed that Indian women are extremely vulnerable to climate change. As women are often responsible for providing daily essentials such as food and water, when climate-related disasters strike the poorest families, the workload of women and girls increases and they tend to miss out on opportunities.

Throwing light on aspects of climatic threats to life she stated that It is predicted that climate change will lead to increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions, precipitating the occurrence of natural disasters around the globe. She further highlighted that women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men during natural disasters.

Further, there is limited ownership rights for women, and as such, they are constrained by a lack of economic freedoms, property and inheritance rights, as well as access to financial resources, education, and new tools, equipment, and technology. Women are also underrepresented in the development and formulation of policy and decision-making in regards to adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

Prof Vibhuti Patel suggested various crucial factors for sustainable development which include recognition of structural flaws of current development model, human rights-based approach gender justice, social protection for the disadvantaged sections, links between employment and environment, social sustainability, economic sustainability, appropriate technology, reduce-reuse-recycle, and waste management and maintain positive levels in the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

Dr Sukriti Chauhan, Founder, Empower. Transform. Inspire. (ETI); Former Programme Lead, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)


Dr Sukriti shared her views on aspects of empowering women on the frontlines of climate change. She highlighted the various scenarios of climate change which has impacted humans and animals. Talking about climate change and human rights, she stated that climate change is one of the greatest threats to human rights of our generation, posing a serious risk to the fundamental rights to life, health, food and an adequate standard of living of individuals and communities across the world.

Focusing on women and climate disruption, Dr Chauhan pointed that women are on the frontlines of climate change around the world, but they’re still hugely underrepresented when it comes to making decisions.

Highlighting the Indian scenario, she stated that women play a critical role in natural resources management within their households and hence women are integral to climate change dialogue, not just because of their role and dependence on natural resources, but also because of their disproportionate vulnerability.

Talking on SDGs and need for change she stated that though SDG 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impact there is no gender-sensitive targets for indicators for SDG 13. Also related SDGs 6, 7, 14 and 15 on water and sanitation, energy, life below water and life on land, respectively, contribute to climate change dialogue but also lack gender sensitive indicators.

Highlighting the various steps to be taken, she pointed that there is need to encourage women’s participation and leadership in environmental-decision making.

 DAY 2: 28th May, 2021

Day 2 of the programme included eminent speakers Prof Govind Kelkar Executive Director, GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation, Gurugram Ms Gitika Goswami Senior Programme Director, Policy Research & Planning, Development Alternatives Group Dr Indira Khurana Director, Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell; Vice-Chair, Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar with Patron Maj Gen Manoj K Bindal Executive Director, NIDM, New Delhi and Conveners  Prof Anil K Gupta Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi Dr Simi Mehta CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI.


Starting the session Dr Simi Mehta CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to eminent panelists.

Prof Govind Kelkar Executive Director, GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation, Gurugram


Prof Kelkar started by sharing a brief background of existing scenario and stated that there exists a dire need to move away from a consumption based extractive and exploitative economy towards a transition to new economies that work in the interests of all women and men and through development of clean/renewable energy and activities based on decent work and gender equality.

Focusing her talk on attention to gender and women’s equality, she stated that environmental workplaces are ridden with gender-based inequality, discrimination, violence and by a culture of acceptance that reinforces/perpetuates these practices, leading to exclusion inequality, marginality and loss of human dignity and productivity.

Highlighting the importance of gender relations in restricting of rural economies, Prof Kelkar pointed that gender relations are power relations, denoting hierarchy between genders, shaped by external forces: globalization, colonization, and civilizational missions.

Deciphering the gendered impact of climate change in Adivasi, Dalit and rural societies in India, she provided examples of Adivasi and Dalit communities, where the members are increasingly interlinked to mitigation initiatives by external actors and women have emerged as leaders to prevent use of their private and community lands and forests for wind energy firms.

Sharing her understanding on gender equality concerns, women’s resilience and climate change she stated that there exist gendered cultural, economic norms in informal and formal institutions and providing ownership and control of productive assets to women can diminish the hold of social norms on government agencies and private sector.

Sharing the statistics of energy use consumption in India, Prof Kelkar said that in India almost 80% of rural households use solid biomass (fuelwood, dung cakes) as the primary energy, though the picture has changed recently due to the Ujjwala Scheme, LPG is still not used as primary cooking energy source.

She further highlighted some of the empowerment priorities defined by rural women: ownership and control rights to land, energy, institutional credit, housing and livestock, equal participation of women in community affairs, and consultations on developing livelihoods and financing of adaptation strategies and violence-free homes, fields and public spaces and sharing of care work.


Prof Govind Kelkar suggested some of the pathways leading to transformational change which include promotion of women’s employment opportunities in rural areas, with decent work conditions, assisting women to address gendered social norms with policy and practice for entitlement of productive assets.

Highlighting various measures of strengthening climate change through agriculture, she proposed use of cost effective micro-irrigation system, capacity building of women farmers at individual and collective levels, through self-help groups (SHGs) and ASHA workers and promotion of water and energy saving technologies, building awareness of women and men at various levels from Panchayats to district and state levels.

She further underlined various measures of strengthening the climate agenda using clean energy for cooking and stated that it is estimated that 30% of ambient air pollution in India is due to household air pollution from cooking with solid biomass.

Discussing the gender and development nexus in the post-pandemic world, Prof Kelkar underlined that there was a need for strengthening climate and gender equality agenda by strengthening the participation of Adivasi and Dalit women and feminist experts in climate change, planning and decision-making processes and addressing gendered social norms with policies and practices having women’s adequate participation and voice in dealing with climate change.

Ms Gitika Goswami, Senior Programme Director, Policy Research & Planning, Development Alternatives Group


Ms Gitika began her discussion by mentioning that right is something which needs to be acquired and one needs to have capacities to acquire those rights. She spoke about various aspects of empowering women address climate change issues for achieving SDGs, based on the fundamental idea that no one should be left behind.

Highlighting the overview of climate vulnerabilities in India, she stated that India faces some of the highest disaster risk in the world and has very high exposure to flooding as well as high exposure to tropical cyclones and their associated hazards and droughts.

Climate change is a major challenge in India threatening to enhance risks already elevated by high levels of social vulnerability and climate variability.

She threw light on various socio-economic issues like increase in food, fodder fuel insecurity, increased water scarcity, massive deforestation, lack of alternative sources of income, etc.

She shared knowledge on various adaptation projects related to agriculture, water, cities and health in India and their ongoing current status.


Talking about the involvement of women in the planning stage, she stated that involvement of women in various adaptation projects at initial stages has led to better implementation of the project with fruitful outcomes and maximum benefits to families. She further pointed to some adaptation benefits through infrastructure development in semi-arid regions using traditional knowledge.

Ms Goswami further shared some of the success stories at varied levels where women played key role and stressed on the fact that women should be included at the planning phase while making use of traditional and scientific knowledge, with monthly climate vulnerability analysis.

Dr Indira Khurana Director, Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell; Vice-Chair, Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar


Dr Indira Khurana focused her lecture on the gender neutral climate resilient development and the importance of using the time to reset the changes made in past years and the way we look at development.

Throwing light on various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stated that post-pandemic the recovery of the world’s poorest could take a decade with significant populations running out of food or reducing their consumption. She further pointed that the losses occurred due to pandemic are huge and on should remember that it has been caused by a virus that has jumped from animals to humans.

Further, she highlighted that around 75 per cent of new infectious diseases are due to zoonotic viruses, which cross over to humans when their natural habitation is destroyed, mainly though deforestation.

On development complexities, she stated that development and impact in not uni-layered, but complex and we will need to recognize this for climate change and prepare well.

Further, she highlighted the importance of water and said that there exists global challenge in terms of quantity, quality, access and sustainability of water and hence water security is critical for building resilience.

Stressing upon depletion of water resources in India she pointed 54 per cent of India faces high to extremely high water stress. The various implications of water insecurity include crop failure, drinking water crisis, and mass migration. Water insecurity also affects humanity and economic and social status.

Talking on aspects of sustaining nature for a sustainable future she underscored that nature based solutions help in addressing challenges such as disaster risk reduction, climate change and biodiversity loss, water and food security and health. Also there is an urgent need to realize that humanity does not breach the planetary boundaries.

Suggesting various measures for road to resilience she stressed upon having prevention and mitigation rather than response, decentralized models, rather than large and infrastructure heavy and to develop a model that respects nature and is nature nurturing. She further highlighted that resilience against climate change uncertainties can be addressed by nature rejuvenation and addressing inequalities.

DAY 3: 29th May, 2021

Day 3 of the programme included eminent speakers Mr Tikender Singh Panwar , Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Senior Visiting Fellow, IMPRI, New Delhi, Dr Sanghamitra Dhar ,Consultant, Ending Violence Against Women Unit, UN Women and Dr Sanjay Singh Waterman of Bundelkhand, Secretary, Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan, Jhansi Alwar with Patron Maj Gen Manoj K Bindal Executive Director, NIDM, New Delhi and Conveners  Prof Anil K Gupta Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi Dr Simi Mehta CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI.


Starting with the session Dr. Simi Mehta CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI welcomed the speakers and participants to the programme with an introduction to eminent panelists.

Dr Sanjay Singh, Waterman of Bundelkhand, Secretary, Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan, Jhansi


Dr Sanjay Singh started his lecture by sharing Parmarth’s presence in various parts of India and the organization’s theory of change- “Facilitate and empower” where the marginalized communities are supported and equipped with skills and knowledge around public resources and their distribution, which give these communities an opportunity to change the status quo and usher in a ‘new normal’.

He highlighted various key interventions areas of integrated water resource management, agriculture and livelihood promotion, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, natural resource management, women empowerment and gender development and health and nutrition promotion.

Further, he talked about Parmarth’s organizational strategy that include formation/strengthening of community-based organization for drought mitigation and community development, capacity building and awareness to cope-up with impacts of climate change, convergence and multi-sector engagement and people-centric policy advocacy.

He suggested ways of drought reduction through water conservation and harvesting and talked about replicable borewell recharge model and ‘ring and pit model’ for borewell recharge where once recharged a borewell goes dry and underground water-tables and aquifers are replenished thus keeping borewell up and running.

He further shared various rejuvenating model for water bodies and shared their work for rejuvenation of reservoir at Chandela Tank. He mentioned about Jal Sahelis and Pani Panchayat which work as water resource management councils and covers equity, demand management, rights of landless, community participation and sustainability of the resource.

Dr Singh threw light on organizations various climate smart agricultural practices including water use efficiency in agriculture, pesticide management and system of vegetable intensification.

He shared facts on Water User Master Plan (WUMP) which was used as a resource mobilization from government schemes thereby strengthening   government interface through massive awareness campaigns, detailed planning process and advocacy campaigns such as Jal Manthan Shivirs, Jal Jan Jodo Abhiyan, etc.

Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla


Mr Panwar started by questioning as to what we are talking about it is about sustainability of people or system sustainability. He commented that the pandemic has exposed our hollow development strategies significantly aimed at achieving SDGs. Thus there is a need for revisiting our strategic ways of moving forward for a better and equitable world harmonious with nature. He said that what we are witnessing is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.

Talking about climate change, he stated that climate change, a topic assuming increasing importance in the present times, requires wilful interventions across the world.

Also losses of biodiversity and of redundancy is accelerating at a rate not experienced before since the extinction of Cretaceous some 66 million years ago.

Further, he pointed that vast excesses of nitrogen through fertilizers run off, etc. have led to polluting water and soil and risking anoxic extinctions.

Talking about land use patterns, he stated that change in land use patterns for industrial growth is also causing water scarcities and there is need for going back to the basics of planning to ensure that we built a free and equitable world.

He highlighted that there exist strong relationship between climate change, demand for climate justice and the sustainability of the people, inequality and gender parity. The last four decades of unbridled neo-liberal capitalism of which privatization was a key driver along with commoditification of value items has been a big reason for widening this gap of inequities in the world.

He mentioned that there are completely unsustainable ways of development and in no way can we reach the SDGs with such unscrupulous nexus driven strategies.

Talking about gender inequity, he stated that India is marred with twin forms of gender inequality, the vestiges of feudal forms of mindset continue to treat women as second rate citizens never meant to be equal and the path of economic development treats them as larger commoditized subjects.

Finally, Mr Panwar stressed upon the fact that we cannot afford to be smug, complacent, and indifferent about this imminent threat waiting to crumble humankind and humanity at its doorstep. It is time that we rectify this by looking ahead with corrective measures for the collective failures that makes us look behind in shame.

Dr Sanghamitra Dhar Technical Coordinator (States) – Gender Responsive Budgeting at UN Women


Speaking on the relationship between gender equality, climate change and SDGs Dr Dhar stated that gender equality is a state where in which access to rights and opportunities is unaffected by gender, climate change includes both global warming driven by human induced of greenhouse gases and resulting shifts in weather patterns and SDGs are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Talking on gender budgeting she mentioned that gender budgeting is accepted globally as a tool for mainstreaming gender in government’s planning and budgeting mechanisms , with vital goal of shaping fiscal policy to reduce gender disparities.

Mentioning about Gender Response Budgeting (GRB) she stated that it is recognized as critical tool and was adopted in India in 2005-06. GRB analyzes differential impact of policies and budgets on women and men as well as other axes of social discrimination.

The various rationale of GRB include economic efficiency, transparency and accountability and advancement of women’s rights and gender equality. The three approaches for preparation of GRB are: gender analysis, gender-disaggregated data and indicators for budgeting and costing for gender equity.

In the conclusion, she stated that the economic rationale for gender budgeting is understanding the evidence that reducing the disadvantage of women leads to higher rate of economic growth. Also, greater equality yields benefits that benefits to private sector as well. Providing healthy atmosphere to women in any sphere of life leads to better economic growth.


Closing the 3-Day training session co-convener of the program Prof Anil K Gupta Head ECDRM, NIDM gave his concluding remarks and said that he agreed with all the points raised by eminent speakers and it was important to have better and acceptable plan to all the existing important issues. In climate change, the aspects related with social dimensions play an important role and hence it was important to look at strengths of women also along with vulnerabilities.

There is a need for more integrated approach in addressing the issues relating to gender equality and climate change.

He underlined that lot of important points have been brought up in the training with an objective of bringing the gender justice concerns into the mainstream planning. These kind of training programs play an important role in making people on policy table accept the existing issues and planning their policies through suggestions and statistics provided in the discourse. He complemented the entire team of Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI) on successful conduct of the training program.

Dr Simi Mehta thanked Prof Anil K Gupta and mentioned that overall it has been diverse experience for everyone and the overall aim of the exercise was to create awareness about the issue of gender equality, climate change, SDGs and a nexus of all the three that directly and indirectly affects everyone. The training program ended with a vote of thanks.

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