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UN Women

Gender and the Environment

The intersection between gender and the environment is key to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. Women play a key role in the management, conservation, exploitation and utilization of natural resources, despite having limited access to and control of these resources.

In recent decades, social progress and economic prosperity in Asia and the Pacific have been jeopardized by impactful environmental challenges and climate change has exacerbated women, girls, gender minorities and other vulnerable group's intersectional vulnerabilities.

© UN Women/Vu Minh Hieu

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© UN Women

Gender Equality and Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific

The Asia-Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world and women, girls, gender minorities and other vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by natural disasters and climate change. Compounding factors such as losses in agriculture due to catastrophes combined with additional unpaid care and domestic work caused by climate change pose unique threats to women's livelihoods, economic independence, well-being, health and safety.

Despite a series of announcements from Asia-Pacific countries to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, current ambitions as set out in the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) fall short of what is needed to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To advance a green economy and the transition to sustainable food systems in the region is crucial to ensure women's participation and equal representation in decision-making in climate action. 

 

FAO

Our Work on Gender and Climate Change

Towards supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, ESCAP is strengthening regional partnerships and promoting gender-responsive climate action in the region. ESCAP is also developing a series of knowledge products on the gender dimensions of sustainable development and climate change to examine the gender-environment nexus and enhance the promotion of policy recommendations in our regional cooperation.

To encourage the leading role that women and girls represent in climate action, ESCAP's work is focused on proposing policy recommendations that advance gender-differentiated measures in climate change action, enhance equal access to resources and agricultural sustainable development, promote care-related policies, and ensure women’s participation as well as representation in climate decision-making.

©FAO

CSW66 on Gender Equality and Climate Change

The Asia Pacific regional consultation on the sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) took place from 9-10 February 2022 and it was jointly convened by ESCAP and UN Women in collaboration with UN entities such as UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Population Fund and UNICEF to collectively address the critical concern of the impacts of climate change in the life and rights of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific.

The priority theme for 2022 was "Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and programmes". Read more about the event here

CSW66

 

The objective of the AP regional consultation was to:

  • Generate consensus among Member States on strategies for advancing key frameworks i.e. the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015–2030, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Provide an opportunity for both state and non-state actors to consider possible areas for joint interventions (policy, programmatic) to address the intersectionality of gender equality, climate change, environment, and disaster risk reduction and management.

The outcome was a set of recommendations to inform membership contributions to the Agreed Conclusions of CSW66. The main topics considered in the recommendations can be summarized as follows:

recommendations

 

ESCAP's Theme Study to Accelerate Climate Action in Asia and the Pacific

ESCAP's theme study 2023 "Race to Net Zero: Accelerating climate action in Asia and the Pacific" was developed to address the impacts of climate change in the region and underscore the regional multisectoral cooperation to strengthen climate actions to decarbonize in Asia and the Pacific.

As a multisectoral cooperation, the study also underscores that promoting gender equality is key to climate action and needs to be assessed by:

  • Underlying the risk drivers of poverty and societal inequalities that disproportionately burden the poor and the most vulnerable groups, including women and children, indigenous populations, gender minorities, migrants, displaced and persons with disabilities.
  • Ensuring that Governments and NGOs effectively targeted relief policies and assistance to reach women and girls in climate-related disasters.
  • Addressing the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change in every development stage of adaptation plans and strategies.
  • Ensuring that children and young people are taken into account by ensuring access to information and participation.
  • Transitioning away from fossil fuels: The transportation sector is the third major source of energy-related CO2 emissions in Asia-Pacific, which have increased about 40 per cent during the last decade. The transition to renewable energy in the transport sector requires a gender lens (gender analyses of travel behaviour and needs) in designing better and sustainable infrastructure.
Race

 

 

Catalizing Women's Entrepreneurship Project: Climate Change and Women's Empowerment

ESCAP's Catalyzing Women's Entrepreneurship Project is a 6-year project (2018-2024) that aims to advance women's entrepreneurship in the region through innovative financing, digital solutions and policy and governance coordination mechanisms in partnership with ministries, regional associations such as ASEAN, innovations companies and local-level organizations.

In doing so, it promotes entrepreneurial ecosystems and environmental sustainability and redresses gender digital gaps by enabling women to develop entrepreneurial skills and expand their capacities.The project addresses the needs of marginalized women entrepreneurs and fosters an inclusive dialogue with stakeholders- including governments, private sector, and women entrepreneurs. 

entrepreneurship

As part of our Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship Project, ESCAP is working closely with the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in creating an enabling environment for women-led MSMEs in Viet Nam.

As part of this partnership, ESCAP have engaged in various initiatives including review and revision of the domestic SME Law, establishment of a digital one-stop hub for women amongst others.

Through our consultations under the national technical group, a multistakeholder policy platform established under the project, the need to address the increased vulnerabilities of women entrepreneurs due to the impact of climate change, particularly in the Mekong Delta region, has emerged as one of the priorities. Taking forward this conversation, we will be working on a study later this year, together with the MPI to assess the impact of climate change and propose policy solutions.

Viet Nam

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

SDGs

The different goals in the 2030 Agenda are a blueprint for the thematic areas the international community must address, with an overarching objective to leave no one behind. This means that in addressing environmental concerns, it must be considered who has access to, uses and benefits from what, to what degree and at what environmental cost, who has knowledge of environmental resource management and who gets to make decisions on access to and use of the environmental resources.

Gender inequality is one critical concern in advancing the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The intersection between gender inequalities and environmental concerns answers how gender interacts with and impacts the environment and vice versa. A gender analysis of the environment emphasises that both men's and women's relationship with nature should be seen through their interactions with the environment, which refers to food, water, energy, fisheries and forest resources.

SDGs
©United Nations

 

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.The Paris Agreement provides a durable framework guiding the global effort for decades to come. It marks the beginning of a shift towards a net-zero emissions world. Implementation of the Agreement is also essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations:

  • substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees;
  • review countries’ commitments every five years;
  • provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement requires economic and social transformation, based on the best available science. The Paris Agreement works on a five-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action -- or, ratcheting up -- carried out by countries. Since 2020, countries have been submitting their national climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Each successive NDC is meant to reflect an increasingly higher degree of ambition compared to the previous version.

Recognizing that accelerated action is required to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the COP27 cover decision requests Parties to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their NDCs to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2023, taking into account different national circumstances.

 

Gender and the Paris Agreement

 

In pursuit of the objective of the Paris Agreement, Parties have acknowledged that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate.

Article 11 states that capacity-building should be country-driven, based on and responsive to national needs, and foster country ownership of Parties. In particular, for developing country Parties, including at the national, subnational and local levels. Capacity-building should be guided by lessons learned, including those from capacity-building activities under the Convention, and should be an effective, iterative process that is participatory, cross-cutting and gender-responsive.

 

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction