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Gender-sensitive climate finance crucial - experts

26 March 2013

By Chelsea Diana

To ensure a gender-sensitive approach to climate finance, women’s particular vulnerabilities must be recognized and women included in the planning, experts said during a Twitter chat with the Global Gender and Climate Alliance.

With the global community investing billions of dollars to fund a response to climate change, the alliance said it is essential to ensure these funds promote policies and programs that reduce inequality between men and women so they are able to address climate change effectively and on an even footing.

The chat addressed why gender-sensitive climate change matters, who benefits and why it is important now. Participants questioned what could be done to ensure climate funding is inclusive and fair to all.

Liane Schalatek, the associate director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in North America, said more attention on adaptation finance and local and community projects is necessary, as well as including women in the planning.

“Convincing funding staff, boards and countries that gender responsiveness increases climate finance effectiveness is key,” Schalatek wrote.

Gail Karlsson, a senior policy adviser at ENERGIA, an international network on gender and sustainable energy, agreed and suggested climate bodies include more gender experts on advisory boards.

“A gender-sensitive approach matters because women are often left out of activities funded by climate financing,” Karlsson wrote.

To mainstream gender in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) decisions, participants suggested a rights-based approach.

To accomplish this, climate change resources could improve their references to gender and ensure more implementation, participants said.

While the Green Climate Fund has “explicit references to gender sensitivity,” implementation must be guaranteed, said Brandon Wu, a senior policy analyst at ActionAid.

As Wu pointed out, in 2011 the GCF created a mandate to include women in the operationalization of the fund, but the execution of that mandate is still in question.

While more gender-focused programs are needed, experts said there are some projects in place.

ActionAid has a program in Bangladesh doing adaptation work focused on women and are collaborating with women-led farmers unions, Wu said.

Karlsson said there are some energy projects backed by climate finance and focused on women, including a Nepal biogas effort and projects by Grameen Shakti, a Bangladesh-based social enterprise that works on solar issues.

But how can a more gender-sensitive approach to climate change be created on a wider scale?

One way may be to give both government and non-government groups direct access to climate finance, said Cate Owren, the executive director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO).

Ensuring strong accountability mechanisms is also critical, she said.

Chelsea Diana is an AlertNet Climate intern.

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