Eradicating extreme poverty and achieving sustainable development are the overarching goals of the 2030 Agenda. However, a lack of ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation measures could draw up to 720 million people back into extreme poverty. Climate change cuts across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it has a disproportionate impact on women and the poorest. During the UN Sustainable Development Summit, member states welcomed the new “development focus” on climate change provided by the 2030 Agenda, which includes a stand-alone SDG on climate change (SDG13). This is the first time climate change has been fully incorporated in the development policy framework. With the exception of the annual resolution on climate change in the Second Committee, there has been little overlap between policy making on sustainable development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Once the Paris Agreement (a 32 page long official document from the UNFCCC which was endorsed in April 2016) starts to be implemented, it remains to be seen how the 2030 Agenda for example overlaps with the implementation of SDG2 to “end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. Development plans will have to take into account that industrial agriculture is currently the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. With world population on the rise, many countries face the exponential challenge to feed a growing population with healthy food while limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts to eliminate agricultural export subsidies will also have an impact on achieving both outcomes.

There are clear links between climate change, peace and security which can increase resource scarcity, undermine livelihoods, increase pressures for migration and forced displacement, and weaken the ability of states to provide the conditions necessary for human security. It makes delivering on the sustainable development agenda more difficult and can reverse positive trends, introduce new uncertainties, and increase the costs of building resilience.

Climate change has the potential to affect every part of the globe. But its impact can be particularly severe for vulnerable people and those who experience low levels of human development. This adds to social and political tensions and can increase the possibility of armed conflicts.

The lack of a gender perspective and gender balance in global and national climate change decision-making and planning can partially be attributed to the limited collaboration between national machineries dealing with climate change and gender. Often, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is not engaged in the activities of the Ministry of Environment, and vice versa. The same lack of coherence is present across departments focused on climate change adaptation, mitigation and finance, and others focused on disaster risk reduction.

Developing strategies

Development Connect will aim to bridge this gap by providing information, methodology development and better awareness on the relevance of climate change to the role and position of women, men and children, as environmental ”stakeholders” need information on gender-differentiated impacts.

In partnership with governments, civil society organizations, private sector companies and UN agencies active at the national level, Development Connect will help formulate and establish national projects that pursue a combined advocacy and awareness-raising strategy ensuring that a gender perspective and women’s leadership is integrated into NAPA (National Adaptation Programmes of Action), REDD+ programmes (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, as well as conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks), and other national climate change strategies. The overarching understanding is that taking gender issues into account will make these plans stronger and more effective.

Efforts to create national gender and climate change strategies will be in line with existing government development plans and an integral part of them, rather than creating a parallel process that is outside government plans.

Development Connect can facilitate core capacity development activities at national and regional levels. Training sessions, sharing lessons learned, could bring together key partners as well as the climate change, women/gender, disaster risk reduction, foreign affairs, and other relevant government departments, as well as civil society, UN, and private sector actors. The sessions will look at developing national recommendations and joint activities, and will create a level playing field of knowledge among government and non-governmental stakeholders.

Potential activities that emerge from the national sessions could include the development of gender guidelines for climate change spending or the inclusion of a gender approach in specific adaptation and disaster risk reduction or mitigation initiatives. The national sessions could potentially involve UN, private sector, civil society and institutional agencies that are present in-country, as well as members of the CEDAW Committee (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) to provide a legal basis for national climate change policies and programs that incorporate gender equality.