WARSAW, POLAND (November 20, 2013)- Bringing COP 19 Gender Day to a close at the last side event of the evening, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) hosted a Fireside Chat, officially titled “Climate Finance and Gender Equality: Lessons for Sustainable Development.” The event provided first-hand experience from women leaders using gender mainstreaming and gender sensitive programming to address environment and energy issues in their countries.

Nathalie Eddy, Coordinator of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), moderated the event and began by setting the stage and posing 3 questions/issues for the participants to consider: What are the greatest barriers to including a gender-sensitive approach in implementing climate finance mitigation projects? Identify demonstrated benefits of including gender issue from the initial planning of a mitigation project. Are there examples of “surprise” benefits from including gender considerations in climate financed mitigation projects?

Rachel Harris of WEDO provided an overview of common lessons learned and knowledge gaps identified via recent case studies and research from partners. She also shared a recent publication by WEDO and GGCA, authored by the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA) and supported by CDKN – Exposing Gender Gaps in Financing Climate Change Mitigation – and Proposing Solutions. It is clear that there is a limited pool of research on the linkages between gender equality and mitigation finance, and tools and methods need to be developed for practitioners to begin to collect and integrate information and data on gender in projects financed for mitigation.

Lessons learned include:

  • Gender mainstreaming throughout mitigation projects yields the most effective results;
  • Socially disaggregated data gathered throughout the project cycle supports more effective projects;
  • Projects with economic and social co-benefits for women and men secure project sustainability;
  • Training designed for energy projects, such as solar collectors, supports women’s leadership when gender roles are taken into account;
  • Involving women in monitoring projects and technologies results in practical suggestions to improve and modify technologies that benefit both women and men;
  • Integrating gender equality issues positively affects project efficacy in both large-scale and small scale initiatives; and
  • Gender-sensitive decision-makers and policies are needed to form inclusive climate mitigation measures and investments.

Indira Shakya of ENERGIA shared experience with gender mainstreaming in the Nepal Biogas Support Program, including an analysis of the challenges and opportunities. The project is one of the case studies in the publication, Exposing Gender Gaps in Financing Climate Mitigation – and Proposing Solutions. Keti Kiria of Green Movement/Friends of the Earth, Georgia, presented her experience in Georgia on gender-sensitive training programs for solar collectors – a microscale CDM Gold Standard Project that they are working to develop as a nationally appropriate mitigation action (NAMA). Keti, together with Carmen Capriles, is a participant in the Empower Women, Benefit All programme of WECF, for which WEDO is a partner supporting women in making links from on-ground efforts to crucial international policy spheres, and vice versa.

A pertinent point exemplified during the event is that taking a gender perspective on mitigation – particularly gender considerations in large scale and/or small scale mitigation projects – sheds new light on how mitigation projects could and should be financed and implemented. While many CDM projects have been criticized because of their human rights violations, the Nepal Biogas Support project displays just the opposite, which is due to the way the government of Nepal has worked with the local community to implement the project. Similarly the approach to the Georgia solar collectors project also showed how gender enhances mitigation projects: by prioritizing gender, you also prioritize sustainable development, which should be an ultimate goal in projects implemented in developing countries.

The Fireside Chat included numerous respondents reflecting on the presentations and contributing their own experience around the link of climate finance and gender equality, including questions about how to access finance and the role of programs like CDM. Respondents included a government official from Georgia, Liane Schalatek from Heinrich Boell, Simone Lovera from the Global Forest Coalition and Sam Bickersteth from CDKN. The perspectives brought in from these respondents spurred a fruitful, engaging and somewhat contentious discussion as positions on approaches to mitigation vary tremendously.

Clearly, this is a discussion that could and should be brought into the larger climate change negotiations as a spark for innovation and different perspectives in looking at mitigation, especially in a time when we need more innovation to spur ambition. Participants contributed to a clear message that continued engagement in climate finance toward gender equality is critical both for women’s rights and for successful climate mitigation and sustainable development.

See the GGCA Storify of the event!

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