Daring Cities 2023, an action-oriented annual global forum on climate change for urban leaders taking on the climate emergency, was recently organised by ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability in Bonn, Germany.
As part of the virtual forum, ICLEI South Asia hosted an engaging webinar on ‘’Reaching out to All: Mainstreaming Gender and Social Inclusion to Enhance Climate Actions” on 1 August, 2023, under the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) – Accelerating Inclusive Action Programme, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. Researchers, decision-makers, policy makers and urban practitioners, among other experts from across the world addressed issues such as diversity and gender intersectionality of climate impacts in the pursuit of inclusive and equitable climate resilience.
The objective of the discussion was to develop better understanding of the array of climate impacts on people, including gender-based marginalisation, and of innovative approaches that could be mainstreamed into resilience planning, besides exploring the intrinsic linkages of gender, equality and social inclusion (GESI) and climate actions.
Ms. Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Senior Programme Coordinator, ICLEI South Asia, moderated the discussion, in which the expert panel comprised Ms. Karnika Yadav, Director, Intellecap Advisory Services Private Limited, Nairobi; Dr. Mani Ram Banjade, Senior Research Fellow, South Asia Institute of Advanced Studies, Kathmandu; and Ms. Mairi Dupar, Senior Analyst, Overseas Development Institute, London.
Ms. Yadav spoke about the socio-cultural biases, stereotypical roles and responsibilities of women, especially as caregivers, the lack of databases, multiple socio-economic perspectives of gender, and an inadequate policy environment that restricts participatory action planning and adaptability. In this context, she highlighted critical aspects such as gender-disaggregated and systematised data collection, factoring in GESI in small and medium enterprises, leveraging traditional knowledge and skills through community participation, and impactful awareness building towards overcoming barriers. She emphasised optimising the potential of entrepreneurs and impact businesses that are developing locally contextualised solutions, thereby ensuring target-oriented inclusive climate action.
In his presentation, Dr. Banjade said that structural inequalities and power imbalances restrict and delay marginalised groups’ disaster response and recovery. He spoke about the pivotal role of concerted action, such as by multi-stakeholder forums as well as close coordination between governments, communities and private players in addressing gender imbalances, and mentioned the example of haat bazaars (local small-scale farmers’ markets) that have been revived in Nepal greatly supporting marginalised women farmers.
Ms. Dupar made a brief presentation on the practical guidance on gender inclusion developed under the CDKN programme, and mentioned the need for gender inclusion across the entire project cycle. She called for women to be at the forefront of climate resilience advocacy and in promoting peer-to-peer learning, instead of being at the receiving end of resilience interventions.
Following the presentations, there was a breakout session in which a few insights from on-ground experiences towards mainstreaming GESI emerged, such as:
- To ensure meaningful engagement of marginalised groups in projects and the successful integration of GESI in development initiatives, it is essential to employ effective and sensitive language and communication strategies. Long-term awareness campaigns and capacity-building efforts play a crucial role in fostering trust and understanding in communities for inclusive project implementation.
- A robust assessment of climate risks and vulnerabilities for all traditionally marginalised groups, is needed for ensuring equitable access to project outputs. The urban-rural divide in this context can be bridged by providing grassroots-level and socio-culturally appropriate solutions such as access to telephones for women to participate in stakeholder consultations remotely. Further, if men and youth become allies in the integration process, it will help to harness the skills of marginalised groups and overcome socio-economic barriers.
- Technical and financials resources must be allocated for holding in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and storytelling sessions, preparing case stories etc., that move beyond simple numbers to collect insights into the underlying barriers, potential unintended consequences of project interventions and key drivers of change.
- In the urban context, the integration of GESI is more complex and results in the administration using piecemeal approaches to it. There is a need to involve the disadvantaged and marginalised communities in planning processes from the outset, such as the engagement of informal settlements in cities.
The webinar put focus on meaningful gender inclusion, challenges such as overburdening women with climate actions where they are already burdened with domestic chores, and the role of civil society organisations in anchoring community action. As the world transitions from ‘global warming’ to ‘global boiling’, this webinar reiterated the importance of inclusive and collective efforts towards building climate resilience.