Accelerating climate action by learning from gender mainstreaming

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In a new paper, Greener through gender: What climate mainstreaming can learn from gender mainstreaming, a team of scientists led by Steven Lam from the International Livestock Research Institute delves into the intersection of gender and climate considerations in global development efforts.

Published in early April 2024, the study explores how insights from gender mainstreaming efforts within the United Nations, which preceded climate mainstreaming, can help to accelerate climate mainstreaming.

As a case study, the team reviewed 57 policy, strategy, and guidance documents of select United Nations agencies working in food and agriculture – an area where climate change is hitting the hardest.

All these agencies incorporate the themes of gender and climate change in their work, though to varying degrees, as their findings revealed.

For example, key areas where climate mainstreaming fell short include strategic planning, leadership, organizational culture, and accountability.

Considering practices adopted in gender mainstreaming by these United Nations agencies, the paper offers three actionable strategies to enhance climate mainstreaming efforts.

  1. Implement multiple strategies: The study advocates for a dual approach that combines programmatic mainstreaming with targeted interventions. As gender mainstreaming recognizes the need for both integrated strategies and specific interventions, climate mainstreaming should adopt a similar approach to address the complex challenges of climate change effectively.
  2. Develop institutional accountability: Similar to the United Nations System-wide Action Plan 2.0 framework for gender mainstreaming, the paper calls for strong accountability mechanisms to track organizational climate mainstreaming progress. By ensuring transparency and monitoring, institutions can strengthen their commitment to climate action and bridge existing implementation gaps.
  3. Adopt a climate justice perspective: Embracing a climate justice perspective is central in prioritizing the needs of vulnerable populations and engaging diverse stakeholders in decision making processes. By recognizing the unequal impacts of climate change on marginalized communities and addressing intersecting forms of discrimination, climate mainstreaming efforts can become more equitable and inclusive.

This study offers a new perspective on advancing climate action by learning from the successes of gender mainstreaming.

By incorporating these strategies into development programs and policies, we can accelerate progress towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

‘Gender equality and climate resilience are inseparable pillars of sustainable development. At CGIAR, with a long tradition in gender research, we are committed to weaving these principles into our work, ensuring that our climate mainstreaming efforts empower all communities. A climate solution that does not work for women is not a climate solution,’ commented Nicoline de Haan, director of the CGIAR Gender Platform.

‘At the heart of effective climate action lies inclusivity and accountability. By drawing from the lessons of gender mainstreaming, CGIAR is initiating approaches that not only mitigate the impacts of climate change but also address systemic inequalities’ said Aditi Mukherji, director of the CGIAR Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Impact Area Platform.

The research was partly supported by the CGIAR Initiative on One Health, funded by contributors to the CGIAR Trust Fund. The Initiative aims to demonstrate how One Health principles – which include equity and sustainability – integrated into food systems can help address challenges at the human, animal, and environment health interface.

Lam, S., Novović, G., Skinner, K. and Hung Nguyen-Viet. 2024. Greener through gender: What climate mainstreaming can learn from gender mainstreaming. WIREs Climate Change e887.

Photo: Groundnut farmer in Malawi (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

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