By Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, Fridays for Future
For climate finance to be just and effective, it needs to center gender justice. Climate change disproportionately impacts communities and groups that are already marginalized, and the structural and systemic barriers that often marginalize women, girls, trans and intersex people further worsen the impacts of climate change. This is especially true for rural, indigenous, and young women who are often excluded from decision making processes. Despite these barriers, women have proven to be essential leaders on the frontlines of climate justice.
In many parts of the world, women are responsible for providing the household with food, water, and fuel. From biodiversity, forest, and ocean protection, to resistance movements, farming, traditional knowledge, and policy advocacy, women are powerful and invaluable agents in bringing about positive outcomes.
On the whole, climate finance – the term used to describe the financial flows that come from industrialized countries in the Global North and private entities to enhance mitigation and adaptation in climate-impacted countries – remains insufficient. Recent estimates concluded that less than 10% of climate finance between 2003 and 2016 reached the local level.
In terms of gender equity it is further lacking. Where gender has been integrated into the language adopted by climate mechanisms, it has yet to be adequately realized on the ground.
Only 39% of members of decision-making bodies under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change were women. The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) has released a new report which found that G20 countries who are responsible for nearly 80% of carbon emissions are lacking in “gender-responsive national climate change policies”.
There is an opportunity for climate finance to have an intersectional impact by empowering women and marginalized genders with decision making, autonomy, and involvement in local solutions while also aiding the transition to community-based renewable energy systems.
The Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action has released a set of recommendations for climate finance to satisfy gender justice. This begins with the satisfaction of previous commitments under the UNFCCC Copenhagen Accord where developed countries agreed to give $100 billion in climate finance by 2020.
Beyond this, climate finance must be scaled to mitigate wider financial barriers such as debt cancellation and fossil fuel divestment, and constitute transparent, grant-based finance that promotes human rights and gender equality, and ensures the engagement of women’s rights groups as rightsholders, experts, and partners.
The Declaration launched at COP26 to stop international public support for fossil fuels by 2022 must be implemented, along with the immediate cessation of all public funds, subsidies and insurances to oil, gas, and coal related projects which exacerbate existing structural impediments to gender equality and fuel the climate crisis.
We urge developed countries to join the Generation Equality Forum Commitment Campaign by adhering to to a multi-year financial commitment to support women in the Global South leading on climate action.
Climate finance programs must set specific and mandatory gender performance targets, and conduct ex-ante gender analysis and leverage local expertise to inform the design and implementation of gender just climate finance to ensure it is locally adapted to gender dynamics.
They must also monitor and evaluate how these funds are impacting gender performance targets and to what extent they are improving the lives of women and girls receiving climate finance.
Gender just climate solutions that can bring about lasting, bottom-up transformation are already active on the local level, and are being led by women in all their diversity. It is incumbent on the international community – particularly the industrialized countries who have yet to make good on climate finance commitments – to propel them forward.