Gender-Responsive Climate Finance: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be

Simi Mehta, Anshula Mehta, Sunidhi Agarwal, Ritika Gupta, Amita Bhaduri

To understand the socio-economic underpinnings of climate finance in intersection with gender at the global and the national level, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI, New Delhi recently organized a talk under The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps, on the topic Gender-Responsive Climate Finance: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be on 15th July 2021.


Socio-Economic Perspective

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Ms. Liane Schalatek, Associate Director, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Washington, DC, kickstarted the session with a presentation. She comprehensively underlining the persisting gender-specific norms, the informality of underpaid and unpaid work done by the fairer sex, the disregard and unappreciation of agency, lack of information, legal rights, and decision-making, and other structural impediments on Gender-Responsive Climate Finance.

From a statistical angle, women form the majority of the world’s 2.1 billion living in poverty and of the 736 million in extreme poverty, of just under one billion without access to electricity and the 2.6 billion still cooking with traditional biomass. They are often disproportionally affected by climate change impacts, which aggravate existing gender inequalities and as a result of persisting gender discriminations.

Global Scenario

International Climate Process (IPCC, UNFCCC/GAP) says gender equality and effective participation of women are relevant for all climate actions, despite their differentiated capabilities to respond to climate change. The talk progressed with a discussion over the need for gender-responsive climate funds and funding processes. Climate finance decisions are not taken within a normative vacuum. Women’s rights are basic human rights, and almost all parties to UNFCCC are also Parties to CEDAW, Agenda 2030/SDGs; Paris Agreement preamble. The Cancun Agreements acknowledge that gender equality and the effective participation of women are important for all aspects of any response to climate change, but especially for adaptation. 

They are a matter of equity, effectiveness, and efficiency since we can not afford to ignore 50% of project/program-relevant actors or beneficiaries of any project. While important advances in existing climate funds have been made, new best practices for gender-responsiveness in funding climate actions are needed by addressing not only the way how but also what they will fund. It is an issue of sustainability of investments.

International Climate Finance

The positive aspect is that all relevant public multilateral funds, including Adaptation Fund, Climate Investment Funds, Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility- each with explicit gender policy and gender action plans, various mainstreaming efforts of over 10 years have translated into success at some minor scale. The negative aspect is the lack of priority, as funds provide little access to finance for women, marginalized gender groups, feminist organizations, but none are prioritized as direct beneficiaries.

International climate finance is vital to global cooperation on climate change. As many developing countries reel from the effects of coronavirus, the prospect of climate-induced extreme weather risks compounding crises and poverty. Climate change could undo decades of progress in development and dramatically increase global inequalities. There is an urgent need for climate finance to help countries cope and adapt.

By quoting directly from her presentation, over a decade ago, developed countries committed to mobilize $100bn per year by 2020 to support developing countries to adapt and reduce their emissions. The goal is a critical part of the Paris Agreement. The OECD-DAC gender equality markers for climate finance (2017-18) were calculated by the Oxfam Climate Finance Shadow Report of 2020.

According to the former’s self-reporting by contributors, only 1/3rd of climate finance projects/programs are designed to respond to gender-differentiated needs, only 1.5% of climate-related ODA identified gender equality as the primary objective, 2/3rd of projects either did not screen for or saw gender equality as an objective of climate interventions. There has been no reporting of how much is being spent on a local level.

Way Forward

The way out is to engage with the broader family of existing climate finance frameworks and instruments to ensure more meaningful integration of gender perspectives in their governance and to deploy the use of national-level climate finance tools, such as national climate funds and climate finance readiness strategies, which help countries manage, coordinate, implement and account for international and domestic climate finances.

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Our discussants were Prof Mizan R. Khan, Deputy Director, International Centre for Climate Change & Development (ICCCAD), Independent University, Bangladesh; Dr Sanghamitra Dhar, Technical Coordinator (States) – Gender-Responsive Budgeting, UN Women, Delhi and Manipur; and Ms Marina Andrijevic, PhD candidate, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany; Guest Researcher, Climate Analytics all gave us valuable insights on the topics of interest and the sub-topics stemming from it, like adaptive capacity, funding constraints, international diplomacy as an extension to domestic policy, stance of Biden administration on climate issues, and henceforth, the talk was concluded.

Acknowledgement: Priyanshi Arora is a Research Intern at IMPRI

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