Loss and Damage - Adverse Impact of Climate Change

Women have a significant influence on the resource use and consumption patterns that are critical to responding to climate change; however they have rarely been targeted as the primary beneficiaries of carbon finance. This month, we hear from Linda Adams and Lauren Sorkin who initiated a project entitled "Harnessing Climate Change Mitigation Initiatives to Benefit Women". As they discuss in the interview below, empowering women and mitigating climate change are two potentially complementary goals.
Shefali Atrey
Linda Adams
Social Development Specialist, ADB

Currently responsible for gender, social and poverty analysis and programming at ADB. Prior to joining ADB, developed programmes for community-based natural resource conservation and management, national poverty targeting and safety-net strategies, and pro-poor tourism; led institutional gender assessments and preparation of both institutional and project gender action plans. Also worked for the World Bank and the United Nations and others. Holds an MA in Rural Development, and Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Economics.

Related Link:
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Shefali Atrey
Lauren Sorkin
Environment and Climate Change Specialist, ADB Viet Nam Resident Mission in Hanoi

Prior to joining ADB, led face-to-face learning as well as online forums and designed web content for the climate change and natural resource management communities through several USAID-sponsored projects. Worked at the Worldwatch Institute researching and publishing work on biofuels, climate change, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS.  Holds an MS in Environment and Development.

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ADB Viet Nam

November 2012

Empowering Women: 
— through Climate Finance —

Linda Adams
Social Development Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Lauren Sorkin
Environment and Climate Change Specialist, ADB
Viet Nam Resident Mission in Hanoi

Background to launch of new project

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the "Harnessing Climate Change Mitigation Initiatives to Benefit Women" project?

A:The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Strategic Priorities for climate change highlight the need to shift consumption from conventional to clean energy, to sustainable urban and transport development, and to improved natural resource management. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions requires not only shifting to cleaner energy sources and transportation systems but altering resources use and consumption patterns. At the grassroots level, communities are critical agents of these changes. However, in our experiences with the ADB we found that few projects positively rewarded communities for making these changes. We therefore began to wonder how to strengthen communities’ incentives to mitigate GHGs in ADB projects?

Reflecting on this question, we realised that many climate change funds are designed to support large-scale technologies (hydro or wind power) before community-based actions (natural resource use or consumption patterns). We further noticed that rarely did climate change mechanisms explicitly recognise the important role women play in managing the water, fuels and wastes that are central to community-based projects. Climate funds largely overlooked women. We wanted to make them part of the solution.

With that goal in mind, we sought to identify workable models where climate mechanisms would motivate women to be actively engaged in mitigating GHGs. We believed that such models would improve the global environment while reducing time from fuel collection; generating income from low-carbon technologies; curbing health and sanitation risks; increasing access to clean energy; and generating other co-benefits for women in Asia. To achieve these goals, we needed to work with innovative development partners. We were fortunate to receive support from the Nordic Development Fund to pursue the project.

Encouraging women to participate in Climate Change Mitigation action

Q: (Much of the work on gender and climate change focuses on climate change adaptation).  Why did the ADB design a project that looked at gender and climate change mitigation?

A: We found from meetings with developing country partners that women were often perceived as 'victims' of climate change and thus marginalised in climate policy discussions. This inspired us to create an ADB project that empowered women to become more involved in those discussions. We knew that women were able to change behaviour in the household and influence their families and communities for the better. Moreover, we wanted to see women directly benefiting from climate finance. We hoped to identify a way to ensure that mitigation finance could be disbursed to women at levels commensurate with their vulnerability to climate change as well as their capacity to ameliorate its impacts.

Women play a vital role in community-based GHG
Women play a vital role in community-based GHG mitigation
(Picture taken by Jane Romero)
In Cambodia, Viet Nam, and Lao PDR-the countries targeted in this project-women have been more involved in adaptation than mitigation. For instance, women’s groups were engaged in preparing the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). However, recently target country governments have taken steps on mitigation in anticipation of new flows of carbon finance (developed countries have pledged USD100 billion annually to fund climate change activities in developing countries by 2020). For example, Cambodia is formulating a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan to serve as a framework for both adaptation and mitigation. Viet Nam’s recently approved Green Growth Strategy makes economy-wide mitigation a priority. The government of Lao PDR approved the National Strategy on Climate Change in March 2010.

Many of these actions offer opportunities for engaging women; yet the degree to which they are being taken advantage of, is still limited in scope and reach. Our project aims to broaden the scope and extend that reach by demonstrating how carbon finance projects in urban and peri-urban areas can benefit women.

More recognition on climate change issues for women

Q: How can organisations raise the visibility of the links between gender and climate change?

A: We envisage at least two ways that ADB and IGES can help increase the visibility of these links. One involves working with decision-makers in government agencies. In this project, we will help build the capacity of national and provincial agencies to integrate gender into climate change strategies, action plans, screening criteria, monitoring and evaluation, and benefit distribution rules for low-carbon projects. Stakeholders from relevant climate and women’s agencies will be convened to exchange experiences and best practices, strengthening their capacity for more gender-equitable distribution of climate finance. These efforts to mainstream gender into climate planning will extend the project’s impacts for years to come.

Another way to increase the visibility of gender-climate links is disseminating lessons learned. The ADB has recently contracted IGES to serve as the Regional Knowledge Coordination Hub. In addition to convening stakeholder consultations and supporting capacity building activities, the Regional Knowledge Hub will share outcomes from the project through briefing notes, case studies, and web-based learning tools. There are already plans to share results with the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Working Group on Agriculture, the GMS Working Group on Environment, the Cities Development Initiative for Asia platform, the Asia Pacific Water Forum knowledge hubs, the GMS Environment Operations Center, the Asian Co-benefit Partnership(ACP), as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These efforts to disseminate the projects findings will hopefully extend the impact of the projects to other countries and regions.

--Thank you very much.

*Eric Zusman, Senior Policy Researcher, Climate Change Group, IGES contributed to this article.

About "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability"

Until 2010, IGES released "Top News on the Environment in Asia" on a yearly basis. For over 12 years since its establishment of IGES in 1998, "Top News" collected and organised information about environmental issues and policy trends in the region.

In January 2011, IGES launched the new web-based series "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability" in which leading environmental experts deliver their take on latest trends of sustainable Asia.


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