Putting the Women in Climate Finance

Climate finance is a more than just about money. Women empowerment and gender equality are important cross cutting themes in the realm of climate finance. This is because climate change makes a bigger impact on women and girls than on men. There are many reasons why this is the case and you can read this and this to understand more about how climate change impacts them differently. Ergo, effective adaptation and mitigation solutions should take gender into account. And climate finance should also be directed appropriately.

Financiers and policymakers are beginning to understand this need. As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) notes, more and more money is being channelled into gender-sensitive projects “intended to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment or reduce discrimination and inequality based on sex”.

During 2015-2016, a quarter of all climate-related development finance went towards gender-sensitive projects. About 81% of them had a significant gender objective. They included monitoring the impact of adaptation and mitigation projects on women, providing agricultural inputs to farmers, training rural women to become solar technicians, and working with women-related micro-finance institutions and savings groups to create demand for and access to clean energy products.

About US$14 billion was reportedly channelled to projects with a gender objective during 2015-2016. The actual figure might have been higher. Most countries represented in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) include gender as a reporting marker. However, not all multi-lateral organisations follow this. Only a few such as the World Bank and the Green Climate Fund do so. More such organisations should include OECD’s “gender-equality policy marker” in projects across their board to give us a more accurate picture of how much finance gets channeled into such projects in the future.

This marker is also used by the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), which advises the Conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement. Its purview includes the major climate funds under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Most of these funds have their own gender policies. This gender-equality policy marker is used as a qualitative statistical tool for evaluating bilateral aid for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5. SDG 5 addresses gender equality and it can help identify gaps between policy and financial commitments.

Another obstacle to effective data collection and therefore an obstacle to securing an accurate picture of climate flows, is that climate finance has not been properly defined. This has caused some debate at the SCF meetings. The committee’s working definition is “financial resources dedicated to adapting to and mitigating climate change globally, including in the context of financial flows to developing countries”. However a lack of a proper definition will mean that some flows get missed out while others that may not be going towards climate change adaptation and mitigation programs per se get included. 

On the whole, the woman has been put into climate finance. However more can be done to develop the framework so that climate finance can be used more effectively to address the gender aspect of climate change solutions. And it would ensure more meaningful financial flows towards gender-sensitive climate projects. The Paris Agreement is scheduled to come into force in 2020. The SCF has a lot of work to do in the next two years on setting up the framework to be recommended to the Conference of the Parties (COP). After that its in the hands of parties to move forward as quickly as possible while maintaining the integrity of their discussions.

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