Blog: Integrating gender equality in climate action through the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub

08 March 2023
Solar engineer woman

Addressing climate change can only be successful with a holistic approach that includes the most vulnerable at heart.

Blog on Climate Change and Gender – Uzoamaka Nwamarah, Adviser Climate Change

Gender and climate change is high on the agenda for the Commonwealth Secretariat, given one in three women on the planet live in the Commonwealth which is home to some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. It is one of the four priority areas identified by member states towards achieving broader gender equality goals.

Integrating gender equality across all levels of climate action, from climate policy development to climate finance resource mobilisation and disbursement, right through to project design and implementation, is important for inclusive outcomes that consider the ways climate change affects different groups – and in particular the disproportionate burden on women and young people, due to existing social inequalities.

Gender equality co-benefits

Mainstreaming considerations into climate change projects, policies and planning can help achieve co-benefits of advancing gender equality and ensuring greater efficiency and returns on climate action investments.

Since becoming operational in 2016 and from an operational standpoint, the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH) through its Commonwealth Regional and National Climate Finance Advisers, mainstreams gender across all its work especially project development.

Some highlights of the CCFAH gender specific project development support include:

  • Antigua and Barbuda: On-going assistance being provided to support a gender-responsive approach to the ‘Redevelopment of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Certification’ at the Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE) to support uptake and deployment of climate change technologies for the Just Transition of the Workforce (valued at approximately USD 10 million).
  • Eswatini: Technical assistance provided for the development of the ‘Women in Eswatini for Climate Adaptation (WE-CAN): Accelerating NDC Implementation through Food-Environment-WASH Nexus’ project (valued at approximately USD 600,000). Project aimed at enhancing climate resilience amongst women and young people through interventions that address unequal use and access to natural resources and decision making.
  • Jamaica: grant secured from the Green Climate Fund Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme towards the projectFacilitating a Gender Responsive Approach to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation(valued at US$270,000). One of the outputs was a Gender and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (GCCSAP) which was launched in 2022.  

Opportunities for NDCs

In 2022, the Secretariat conducted a review of member countries Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and launched a report entitled; ‘Gender Integration for Climate Action: A Review of Commonwealth Member Countries Nationally Determined Contributions’ (Second Edition) at COP27 to serve as a baseline in understanding the extent to which gender and social inclusion concerns are integrated into National Climate Plans. The report provides an in-depth understanding of prevailing gaps, entry points and opportunities for the integration of gender into NDCs.

Building on this analytical piece of work, the Secretariat developed a Best Practice Guide on Gender Integration in NDCs to support Commonwealth member countries in their journey towards gender equality in climate action and also launched this at COP27.

The Best Practice Guide succinctly maps out a timeline of tangible action points which Commonwealth countries can undertake to enhance gender integration in the run up to the 2025 NDC update cycle.

Key insights and lessons learned from the CCFAH experience and analysis across the Commonwealth include:

  • Many Commonwealth member countries have included dedicated sections on gender in their NDCs, and cite gender under fairness and equity considerations. Almost all member states have carried out participatory NDC development including their national women machineries with many demonstrating progress on gender representation in governance and consultation processes.
  • Women and young people must be positioned as agents of change in the climate change narrative while recognising their unique vulnerabilities and disproportionate impacts they face. Gender specificity in mitigation and adaptation measures need to be strengthened such that women and young people are recognised as decision makers as well as solution providers and not only as beneficiaries.
  • For project implementers to ensure achievement of gender objectives there is need to integrate gender equality across these key areas: policy alignment and clarity of intent, financing gender expertise and gender budgeting, skills for a gender-just transition, evidencing a gender-just transition and institutional collaboration and feedback mechanisms.
  • Building of synergies and coherence across line ministries and institutions responsible for climate change and gender policies will drive the integration of gender issues in climate action. This is further strengthened when all line ministries engage on gender matters from the onset. In line with this is the need to build both the human and institutional capacity for gender mainstreaming into climate change policy formulation planning, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Making a deliberate effort to provide gender-sensitive indicators for all steps of a project or programme cycle will facilitate the generation and tracking of measurable results such that they can be monitored, reported and verified accordingly. Gender issues need to be clearly articulated by sector and have targeted instruments to address these during project implementation. It is vital for financial support for the collection and collation by gender machineries and their support agencies for sex-disaggregated date to be included as part of project costs from inception.
  • Traction has been made in mainstreaming gender as a cross-cutting theme and this needs to be built on. There is a great need for scaled up gender specific climate change proposals and initiatives that can attract higher funding envelopes. Congruent with this is the need for dedicated funding sources for gender focused climate action at the international, regional and national levels.

Gender-based climate finance

The announcements made at COP27 including the launch of the new Climate Gender Equity Fund by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with initial see funding of USD 6 million along with USD 21.8 million dedicated to gender-responsive climate action from the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund are positive steps in the right direction.

The expectation is for more partner countries to follow-suit and garner resources at scale for gender specific climate investments as well as gender-based climate finance to bridge the financing gap.

Looking ahead in 2023, we are excited to be embarking on a new project together with the government of Antigua and Barbuda along with the NDC Partnership to deliver the project on ‘Determining the Feasibility for a Gender-responsive Blended Financing Window under the Sustainable Island Resource Framework (SIRF) Fund’ to support the programming of gender-responsive climate finance locally. Watch this space!

About Commonwealth Climate Change Programme


Media contact

  • Josephine Latu-Sanft  Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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