Engendering the Green Climate Fund

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Engendering the Green Climate Fund

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An Opportunity for Best Practice

September 19, 2011
Liane Schalatek

Gender considerations are currently not systematically addressed in existing climate financing instruments; where gender appears, it is in bits and pieces.  Probably the main reason for that is that gender was not integrated into the design and the operationalization of these financing mechanisms from the very outset – as is the case for the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) as well as for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) or the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) administered by the Global Environment Facility, and even the Adaptation Fund, which only started project funding last year.  This is where the Green Climate Fund, currently designed by the 40 members of the Transitional Committee, has a chance to do better:  It has an opportunity to be truly transformative and distinguish itself from existing funds by being the first to integrate a gender perspective from the outset. Gender as a cross-cutting issue must guide the discussions about the scope, the governance and operational guidelines of the Green Climate Fund in the Transitional Committee.

Gender awareness and some gender guidelines are not completely absent from some of the climate financing instruments, nor should they. For example, the World Bank and the regional multilateral development banks implementing the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) have gender policies on the book for their development financing operations. The World Bank, for example, has a gender mainstreaming mandate. The development banks also have accumulated evidence from development practice over the years that gender equality increases the effectiveness of their development funding. A recent report of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group has made that point. But gender is not integrated into any of the operations of the Clean Technology Fund, which finances large-scale mitigation objects in emerging market economies and accounts for  roughly 70 percent of the total CIFs funding portfolio of US$ 6.5 billion pledged. In the World Bank’s Pilot Program on Climate Resilience (PPCR), the vehicle funding programmatic adaptation portfolios in a few select developing countries, gender is not part of the PPCR’s operational principles, although some pilot countries phase I proposals have included some gender dimensions in their plans. In the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program in Low-Income Countries (SREP), the newest of the CIFs, the suggested structure of the investment plans requests information about “environmental, social and gender co-benefits” and asks for social co-benefits to include “greater involvement and empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups.”

At the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund, project proposals unevenly include some gender analysis; but it is not yet mandatory or a strong consideration for the project approval and subsumed under a vulnerability focus. Hopefully, this will change with the current review and further elaboration of the AF’s operational guidelines. For the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) lastly, which is supposed to fund and implement National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs), gender is so far not an obligatory decision criteria for project review and approval. Acting on the prodding the GEF received during its latest replenishment cycle by some Northern contributor countries to mainstream gender into its operations, the GEF is working to improve and implement its own social safeguards and gender mainstreaming policy.  This is bitterly necessary: so far, only roughly a third of the NAPAs include gender analysis or gender indicators. Women’s participation in their development has been likewise uneven, despite clear guidance by the UNFCCC. And most of the handful of NAPA implementation projects funded under the LDCF lack the gender component entirely.

However, it is possible to include gender systematically and effectively in a global financing mechanism devoted to developing country actions for a global public good, such as climate stabilization undoubtedly is. Some “better practice” examples do exist. Both, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) have had either a gender action plan or a detailed gender policy on the book since 2008. In addition, they have a “gender infrastructure” on both funds: a Gender Working Group in the case of GAVI, which includes representatives from all Secretariat teams; in the case of the Global Fund, there are several full time gender advisors as well gender experts on the monitoring, evaluation, legal advisory and civil society outreach teams.

But a formal gender policy or a gender action plan for a climate financing instrument in itself is not enough. Equally important is the systematic integration of gender equality in a fund’s governance structure as well in its public participation mechanisms. For example, while of the existing multilateral climate funds the AF is the most representative in terms of countries’ inclusion (with a majority of seats for developing countries and a dedicated board seat each for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing Countries), none of the multilateral climate funds seeks a gender-balance on the board. Also, most don’t allow for an active participation of members of civil society in the respective fund’s board either. Although even there, “best practice” precedent exists: the statutes of the Amazon Fund, the Congo Basin Forest Fund and the UN-REDD Programme allow for representatives of relevant stakeholder groups to be voting members of the fund’s decision-making body. While not going this far, on some climate funds, for example the CIFs, civil society representatives as active observers at least have the right to take the floor, add agenda items and recommend outside experts for consideration by a fund board. At the CIFs, special representation is accorded in the CIFs to Indigenous Peoples with a separate seat that is not counted toward the overall civil society quota.  Women deserve no less.

Gender advocates are therefore putting forward some key recommendations to the Transitional Committee to ensure that gender is adequately considered in the ongoing deliberations on the design of the future Green Climate Fund. Gender is relevant for all of the four working groups of the TC. It truly has to be a cross-cutting issue and one of the guiding principles informing all of the TC’s work, which is currently moving from scoping input to drafting options for adaption by COP17 in Durban later this fall.  Among the most important gender equality considerations for the new Fund:

  • Gender-responsive funding guidelines and criteria should be developed for each of the proposed thematic funding windows
  • Explicit gender criteria must be included in ex ante performance objectives and criteria to evaluate funding options under the GCF.  Criteria should include a mandatory gender analysis of the proposed project or program, a gender budget and some clear indicators which measure how funded projects and programs contribute to gender equality objectives
  • Funding Windows: The GCF Board, by retaining the flexibility and capacity to add new funding windows, sub-windows or focal areas, should consider gender equality as focal area or a special women’s sub-fund.
  • Gender-balance in all decision-making bodies should be guaranteed, including the GCF Board and possible sub-boards for individual funding windows. In addition to gender balance, the GCF board must include gender experts. Members of civil society, including representatives of gender equality organizations and women groups, should be given opportunities for active participation in the work of the GCF Board and all of its sub-Boards, ideally as voting members.  Active CSO observers should include gender experts and/or women’s organizations.
  • The GCF Secretariat must include gender expertise. This is important to ensure that gender equality principles are considered in program and project review and the monitoring, reporting, verification and evaluation of the funding portfolio, which are among the suggested functions for the GCF Secretariat.
  • The input and participation of women as stakeholders and beneficiaries must be guaranteed at each level and step (decision-making, program/project implementation) ex ante, ongoing and ex post.
  • The GCF must include a regular gender-audit of its funding allocation in its overview and reporting in order to ensure a balanced (between mitigation and adaptation) and gender-responsive delivery.  At the second TC meeting in Tokyo just a few days ago, it was encouraging to note that the level of gender awareness among TC members seems to be rising – albeit from a previously pretty low level. Heading into the next meeting in just a few weeks in early September, it is important to keep the gender momentum going.

Liane Schalatek is Associate Director of the Heinrich Boell Foudnation North America. Her article was first published on the web blog ClimatEquity