On year after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), commonly referred to a “Rio +20” elaborated on the global community’s shared understanding of “the future we want”, follow up processes have started to sketch out possible outlines of a post-2015 framework with a set of sustainable development goals (SDG) as likely successor to the millennium development goal process (MDG), which ends in 2015. Gender-equitable sustainable development approaches will be key to addressing the shortcomings of the MDG process, which largely failed for significantly reduce persistent poverty and inequalities, including between men and women, in a natural environment that is overstressed, continues to be depleted in the name of economic growth and development and taken as a given. This paper analyses the shortcomings of the MDG approach in addressing challenges to gender equality stemming from environmental degradation, including climate change. It argues that in order to succeed, truly sustainable development needs the marrying of the care economy which recognizes and accounts for primarily women’s unpaid social reproduction and care burden with the instruments of a green economy approach that internalizes and values (not necessarily prizes and commodifies) the use of environmental resources. Making development and climate finance processes and mechanisms more democratic and gender-responsive and devoting significant resources to interventions targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment is a key with is necessary to translate states’ rhetorical commitment into concrete policy actions.
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