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Gender and Climate Change-A Value based approach to measuring impacts of climate change.

United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) organized the twenty second Conference of Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech Morocco between 7th and 18th November, 2016.Actually, several conferences were merged in one: the first Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMAI); the 12th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP12);the 45th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for implementation (SBI45) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological advise (SBSTA 45) and the second meeting of the first session of the Ad Hoc working group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-2). During the opening ceremony on 7th November, 2016 the following issues were highlighted: That;

  1. One hundred (100) countries had ratified the Paris agreement.
  2. Combating climate change impact required heroines (like the late Prof. Wangari Maathai) – combative, courageous, determined, persistent and willing to rise to the highest moral ground.
  3. Addressing climate change is  about sustainable development.
  4. Climate change affects the most vulnerable population and
  5. The conferences  was about consolidating support for action. 

Some of the challenges to addressing climate change that were identified included: That:

  • There was need to work with speed to meet obligations under the Paris Agreement;
  • Ensure adequate Finances pointing out that the current flow of funds was not enough and was not consistent;
  • There was need to complete Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)and policies to support their implementation.
  • There is need to align Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) with National Priorities.
  • Capacity development is needed especially in developing countries.

The agenda for SBI 45 included Gender and Climate Change in item 16.  Several side events were also organized under this item by state and non-state actors.  A strong gender team  was also actively lobbying for integration of gender in the deliberations that culminated in the adoption by SBI of the extension of the Lima Programme on Gender and climate change for a further period of three years.

Relevance of Climate Change to Women and Children

Degradation and destruction of earth resources through climate change has brought women in very close contact with the environment at personal levels.   They rightfully have become actors and drivers of initiatives to address climate change since it increases their vulnerability.

Women are at the heart of agricultural production and of family. They are the main food providers in Africa.  They are subsistence farmers on their husbands’ farms where they not only provide food but also a little income when they sell any surplus.  This income is used for children’s education and also to pay for medical bills and other household expenses. 

Climate Change resulting in erratic and short rainfall leads to food shortages and interruption of women’s lives.  It is therefore, important that women are integrated into the Climate Change debate.  This will allow successful adaptation to be informed by real/actual needs on the ground.  Such a bottom-up approach helps to avoid treating symptoms and enhances results and outcomes.  When decisions are taken jointly, there is room to incorporate local knowledge which is as important as Technical Expertise.  

A bottom-up approach allows grass root women to be part and parcel of project design, implementation and monitoring.  It helps in enhancing pro-poor approaches to climate change initiatives, increases capacity to build resilience in communities and creates ownership as communities view climate change as something they have to deal with rather than something the Government has to do for them. A bottom-up approach to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) provides full appreciation of loss and damages due to climate change. 

Loss and damage due to climate Change: A Values-Based Approach

A lot of emphasis has been put on economic losses to people and countries due to climate change.  Very little consideration has been given to irreplaceable and irredeemable losses that are also natural consequences of Climate Change.  Little efforts have been made to assess what people really value or what they deem worth protecting unless it is material.   It is therefore important when assessing loss and damage due to climate change:

  • What do people value?
  • What is at risk for them?
  • What is the real or felt loss?
  • Does it matter?
  • To whom?  

A value-based approach unveils what people value. It leads to an appreciation that often what is valued cannot be easily compensated through funds or insurance and hence raises the stakes for effective, sustainable environmental protection. Three examples demonstrate this:

  1. A severe floods or fire destroys people’s homes. The displaced people are moved to new homes.  This leads to a lost sense of home and place, loss of community identity and memories as well as safety and security concerns.  The social fabric they had so well cultivated falls apart.  What they shared as a community; what had significance for them like harvest festivals etc. disappear.  How would this be quantified?
  2. A severe drought leads to scarcity of water.  Sources of water previously reserved for animals have now to be shared with their owners.  Imagine this narrowing of identities and subsequent loss of dignity. What value can be attached to this?  How do you compensate this?
  3. A severe drought kills animals.  Amongst the pastoralists, loss of animals means poverty, loss of status and loss of dignity.  It may affect mental health and in parts of Australia, reports indicate it has in the past led to increased suicide rates.  How do you compensate for such loss of status/dignity?

These examples just go to demonstrate that loss and damage vary according to  who and what they value.  It therefore means that besides inclusion of compensation measures in policy, there should be strategies to improve people’s resilience to climate change.  Gender equality and sustainable development must happen together.  There is need to change the rhetoric in climate change debate; to change literature that depicts poor women as the cause rather than victims of climate change.  There is also need to build capacity of poor women to project themselves into the future, and to add their views in the debate on climate change.   After all, diversity of views always benefit the outcome in any endeavour.

What does it mean for NGEC?

  1. The Commission must begin to include Climate Change as a causative agent for gender inequality, especially amongst its Special Interest Groups (SIGs) prone to vagaries of climate change.
  2. NGEC must begin to fill the gaps left by Climate Change Experts to sensitize grass root women and youth on climate change and discuss measures to mitigate against it.
  3. NGEC to lobby t he  Government not only to consider gender dimensions in the NDC’s but to also incorporate it in its on-going mitigation strategies.
  4. NGEC to promote participatory, bottom-up approaches on all issues about climate change – policy, NDCs, implementation, etc.



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