A new Global Environment Facility (GEF) Policy on Gender Equality was approved today at the 53rd meeting of the GEF Council taking place in Washington, DC. The policy marks GEF’s increased ambition to address gender equality and promote women’s empowerment across its operations, and, in particular, in its projects and programs. It is a logical step stemming from the increased attention to gender equality and women’s empowerment by the conferences of the parties to the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) that the GEF serves, and the Sustainable Development Goals that call for gender-responsive approaches and actions.
“The GEF partnership has seen progress in the area of gender equality in environmental work, but it’s not enough”, said Ms. Francoise Clottes, GEF Director of the Policy, Partnership, and Operations Unit. “By explicitly recognizing that efforts to combat environmental degradation and those to address gender inequality can be mutually supportive, this new Policy will help the GEF to more actively catalyze projects and actions that have the potential to materialize greater environmental impact through gender-responsive approaches and results.”
The new Policy underscores the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment for the GEF’s work. Men and women use natural resources differently and, as a result, environmental conditions have different impacts on men and women. Despite promising reforms, women still have less access to land, water and other productive natural resources due to gender-discriminatory social and cultural norms. These inequalities do not only increase the negative effects of environmental degradation on women and girls, but also limit the equal participation, voice, and decision-making of women in environmental negotiations, policies, and projects. Targeting gender gaps in areas such as control over natural resources, access to benefits and services, and participation and decision-making will not only contribute to greater gender equality, but also help unleash women’s potential as key agents of change in support of GEF’s mandate to achieve global environmental benefits.
The new Policy places the GEF approach to gender mainstreaming on par with current international best practices and translates this approach into concrete policy requirements that reflects the GEF’s ambition to:
- Shift from a gender-aware, “do no harm” approach to a gender-responsive, “do good” approach by requiring robust standards in the design, implementation and evaluation of GEF activities, and introducing measures that will allow GEF, over time, to better leverage strategic opportunities to address gender gaps critical to the achievement of global environmental benefits.
- Improve reporting on results by requiring project- and program-level monitoring and reporting on gender by Agencies, and portfolio-level monitoring and reporting on performance and results by the GEF Secretariat.
- Raise awareness and generate knowledge on lessons learned on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women related to the environment and the GEF’s areas of work, with a view to informing programming in furtherance of this Policy.
“The adoption of the new GEF Policy on Gender Equality is a significant achievement, as it moves away from a ‘do no harm’ to a gender responsive approach, introducing specific actions to support gender equality and the empowerment of women. The new policy demonstrates the GEF recognizes this approach as an operational imperative and catalyst for change. As a GEF Agency, UNDP places advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment at the center of its development mandate and believes a gender responsive approach is key to tackling the drivers of environmental degradation,” said Ms. Adriana Dinu, GEF Executive Coordinator, UNDP.
The approved Policy draws on the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) Evaluation of Gender Mainstreaming in the GEF, the four-year process of implementing the GEF Gender Equality Action Plan, a collaborative and consultative process involving GEF Agencies, and the multi-stakeholder GEF Gender Partnership, which comprises gender focal points from Agencies, secretariats of the MEAs, and representatives from the IEO, the GEF CSO Network, the GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group, as well as other environmental finance providers and expert organizations.
Following the adoption of the Policy, the GEF Secretariat will develop Guidelines to support the effective implementation of the Policy in a consultative manner, with the participation of Agencies, the GEF Gender Partnership, and other stakeholders and expert groups.
The 53rd GEF Council meeting is taking place from November 28-30, 2017.