ADB TA 7914-REG Harnessing Climate Change Mitigation Initiatives to Benefit Women

Commissioned Report

The adverse effects of climate change have disproportionately fallen on women. In consequence, the challenges women face adapting to climate change have tended to overshadow the contributions women make to mitigating climate change. To some degree, the emphasis on adaptation has also fed false narratives of women as passive victims of climate change, and in so doing, it has limited their access to the potentially large flows of climate finance allocated for mitigation. The Regional Technical Assistance-7914 (RETA-7914 sought to increase access to these funds by demonstrating the feasibility of gender-responsive mitigation in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and Vietnam.

Following international climate policy trends, the RETA’s approach to gender-responsive mitigation moved beyond one-off projects. Rather it employed a multi-level approach that involved integrating gender and climate into broader institutions and relevant policies. These institutional and policy changes were then intended to create an enabling environment for the initiation and replication of similarly themed local projects. This multi-level approach was purposively structured differently in the three RETA countries to maximize learning opportunities. In Lao PDR, it worked at the national level with the lead environmental agency; in Cambodia it worked at the sector level within a ministerial agency focused on agriculture; and in Vietnam it worked with a city level environmental agency. Accordingly, the RETA illustrates three different levels for promoting gender-responsive mitigation.

• In Lao PDR, the national Department of Disaster Management and Climate Change was responsible for climate change but lacked gender expertise, while the national women’s agency, the Lao Women’s Union (LWU), was mandated to mainstream gender in government sector agencies but lacked climate expertise. The RETA fostered a working relationship between these agencies that resulted in the LWU joining the national Technical Working Group on Climate Change (TWGCC), and a review of climate action plans to incorporate gender. In parallel, the RETA supported the establishment of women-led production centers to manufacture and market fuel-efficient Improved CookStoves (ICS) as a pilot demonstration project.

• In Cambodia, the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) assigned the Gender and Children Working Group (GCWG ) to participate in the RETA. As such, the focus was equipping the GCWG with the capacity to take a seat in the MAFF Technical Working Group for Policy and Strategy to Respond to Climate Change (TWG-CCAFF). Furthermore, working in this gender-focused organization required mainstreaming climate into gender policy (rather than the other way around). These institutional and policy changes were complemented by a pilot demonstration project training for women to be sales agents for private sector distributors of Advanced Biomass Stoves (ABS).

• In Vietnam, the provincial government decision to assign its semi-commercial Urban Environment Company (URENCO), as the Implementing Agency (IA) initially limited interest in the RETA’s work on policy mainstreaming or stakeholder engagement. However, continued interactions with the Dong Hoi Women’s Union (DHWU) (due to their involvement in a pilot project) and the Dong Hoi People’s Committee (DHPC), together with Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE) effectively made these agencies the focal point for many activities. In this role, they helped build mitigation and gender considerations into the revised city climate plan. At the same time, the RETA trained women to lead construction and marketing of bio-digesters in establishing Biogas Mason Enterprises (BMEs).

Beyond the country-specific results, the RETA also created a regional knowledge hub that ensured information on recent trends in international climate policy were well integrated into capacity building and mentoring activities. The knowledge hub also drew upon the material used for in-country capacity building to publish training materials from the RETA for use in other countries and contexts. The knowledge products were further disseminated through a well-attended final workshop and featured on a RETA website ( Beyond the main outputs and outcomes, the RETA generated several learnings that could inform future efforts to mitigate climate and mainstream gender.