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Satu Santala’s opening remarks at the CSW 66 side event “Understanding the gendered risks: Women as the central piece to the climate adaptation puzzle”

15 marzo 2022

I wish to warmly welcome all of you to this side-event, which we hope will highlight how inclusive climate action and responses that consider the needs of women and girls in all their diversity are critical for climate-resilient future.

The priority theme of this year’s CSW is “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes”.

We know that gender inequality is both a driver and consequence of exposure to climate risks and disasters, which results in disproportionate impacts on women and girls. In addition, responses to climate change often fail to take into account how gender inequality and other intersecting forms of marginalisation and discrimination amplify risks for vulnerable groups.

For example, persons with disabilities and especially women and girls with disabilities are often among those particularly at risk.

The recently published Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that structural vulnerabilities to climate change can be reduced through carefully designed and implemented legal, policy, and process interventions from the local to global that address inequities.

This includes rights-based approaches that focus on capacity building, meaningful participation of the most vulnerable groups, and their access to key resources, including financing.

IFAD strongly supports these types of approaches. Let me highlight examples that illustrate ways we promote gender equality in the context of climate change.   

Firstly, IFAD targets the poorest and most vulnerable. This is enshrined in IFAD’s targeting policy, which has the key objective for those who are left behind to participate in rural development as active citizens.

Secondly, for decades, IFAD has been leading an agenda of gender equality in rural communities. In line with its gender policy, in all its supported programmes and projects, IFAD aims at reducing inequalities between men and women of all ages and empowering rural women and adolescent girls in all their diversity. Programmes and projects that help rural women grow more food, connect to markets, increase their incomes, and become more literate and financially skilled are an essential piece of the puzzle for us.

This includes enhancing women and girls role in decision-making. Given the significant role rural women play in agriculture and food security, they have the potential to take forward adaptation measures as key agents of change.

IFAD has also committed to mainstream the considerations of rural youth in its investments and supports indigenous peoples’ self-driven development through projects that strengthen their culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, intellectual property and human rights. 

Lastly, and in line with the broader United Nations efforts, IFAD has enhanced its focus on the specific challenges and opportunities faced by persons with disabilities and committed to develop a Disability Inclusion Strategy, with the aim to streamline attention to disability inclusion in its policy, institutional and operational frameworks.

These are some of strategies and approaches that IFAD uses to bring about the urgent transformational changes required to achieve more equitable, inclusive, sustainable and climate-resilient rural economies and food systems. I am delighted that this is what we are here to exchange on more today.

I also hope our conversation will focus on ways to see concrete, tangible results. IFAD drives a results focus by financing inclusive climate action through multiple instruments. One example includes the Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP +). The programme is expected to mobilise additional 500 million US dollars by 2024 and benefit more than 10 million people, particularly women and youth, and in doing so to increase their capacity in coping with the effects of climate change and to build their resilience to disaster risks.

Under the first phase of ASAP, which was launched in 2012, we reached almost 6 million poor smallholder household members of which at least 40% were women in a total of 41 countries across the world.

For example, the overall inclusion of the Project for Adaption to Climate Change in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam exceeded the targeted of 40 per cent of women participation in almost all project activities; and the project resulted in women being more confident to raise their voice and contribute with ideas in decision-making processes, publicly advocating for their own priorities and needs

We also know that challenging gender norms and addressing gender inequalities in agriculture and rural development require innovative strategies. Due to discriminatory stereotypes and social norms, rural women and girls’ knowledge of climate change adaptation and mitigation is often devalued. “Gender transformative” approaches are therefore crucial for sustainable and inclusive climate action – this is another part of the dialogue today. These approaches aim to create opportunities for individuals to actively challenge and change structural barriers, social norms and behaviours that lead to power inequities.

To step up its efforts in this area, IFAD has committed to having 35% of its projects marked as gender transformative by 2025 and has launched a new and innovative initiative the Gender Transformative Mechanism in the context of Climate Adaptation (GTM). The aim is to support and incentivize our partner governments to increase investment, capacities, and activities to achieve gender transformative results at scale in rural areas.

The GTM aims to empower over 20 million rural people across 27 projects and 20 countries to achieve gender transformative results in agriculture, strengthen climate resilience, and improve rural people’s wellbeing by 2030.

Already 27 years ago, the fourth World Conference for Women in Beijing called for the world to intensify efforts to ensure equal enjoyment human rights and fundamental freedoms for all women and girls regardless of their age, ethnicity, disability, or because they are indigenous peoples.

And as we will hear today, there is a clear interconnectedness of climate change with issues of gender justice. Inclusive approaches for tackling climate change that incorporate the voices and lived experiences of diverse women and girls are necessary. Their leadership and participation in addressing climate change and environmental degradation will lead to more effective, comprehensive and inclusive responses and solutions.

Let me conclude by highlighting two important points.

Climate change affects everyone – but smallholder farmers and poor rural women and girls bear the brunt of climate change and the degradation of natural resources although they contribute the least to the problem. 

Climate justice is fundamental and for that within the context of climate finance, equitable and inclusive tenure rights, land governance and adaptation financing for the benefit of all women and girls should be prioritized for sustainable rural development.

Daunting but not unsurmountable.  We need to act – now and together. I really look forward to the dialogue today.