Women form the majority of the world’s 1.9 billion population who live in poverty and of the close to 700 million in extreme poverty, of the 770 million without access to electricity and the 2.6 billion still cooking with traditional biomass, with the numbers expected to significantly rise in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are often disproportionally affected by climate change impacts which aggravate existing gender inequalities as a result of persisting gender norms and discriminations. Women and men also contribute to climate change responses in different ways.
In the international climate regime, the Cancun Agreements from 2011 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. Since 2012, the gender dimension of climate change has been addressed as a standing item under the UNFCCC. At COP 21, Parties anchored gender equality and the empowerment of women as a core principle in the Paris Agreement’s preamble. The Paris Agreement also mandates gender-responsive adaptation and capacity-building efforts but fails to integrate gender-specific language in its mitigation, technology, or finance sections. Gender-responsive climate financing instruments and funding allocations are needed. This is a matter of using scarce public funding in an equitable, efficient and effective way. It also acknowledges that climate finance decisions are not made within a normative vacuum but must be guided by the acknowledgement of women’s rights as unalienable human rights. Many climate funds started out gender-blind, but over the past few years have recognized the need to consider gender retroactively. This has resulted in important fund structure and policy improvements. While important advances in existing climate funds have been made, new best practices for gender-responsiveness in funding climate actions are needed that address not only how, but also what, they will fund.
This analysis looks at the progress made, five years after Paris, in integrating gender in the climate funds supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the challenges they need to overcome to be fully gender-responsive.