What We Are Reading: December 2021

Report: Intrinsically Linked: Gender Equality, Climate, and Biodiversity, Action Aid, Both ENDS, WECF, and WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform (2021).

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This report explains the intrinsic links among climate, biodiversity, and gender equality. While its recommendations are targeted at the Dutch government, they are applicable to any government wanting to advance climate, biodiversity, and gender equality agendas in concert. 

The report first articulates the climate-biodiversity link. Biodiversity plays an indispensable role in combating climate change by capturing greenhouse gas, even as biodiversity is compromised as the earth warms up. It then brings in the gender equality angle, arguing that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate and biodiversity crises and poorly designed climate measures, while also leading the way in local climate solutions. 

The report’s recommendations explain how governments can surmount a number of challenges to addressing the climate and biodiversity crises and gender inequality: incoherent policy; economic goals taking precedence over gender equality and sustainability; and women’s lack of access to decision-making roles, resources, and climate finance. In brief, the recommendations are: 

  • Ensure that trade, agricultural, and investment policies are aligned with climate and biodiversity goals (notably, cease support to oil and natural gas). 
  • Commit, via policy and programming, to the meaningful involvement of women in decision-making processes during international climate and biodiversity conferences. 
  • Ensure that climate policy and programming does not negatively affect the resilience of ecosystems and populations, nor reinforce existing power structures and exclusion mechanisms. 
  • Ensure climate finance is accessible to local communities and women and bolster the efforts of women environmental and land rights activists. 

The climate and biodiversity crises and gender inequality are two of the biggest, most pervasive challenges of our time. This report shows how they are intrinsically linked, and therefore can and should be tackled together.

Report: Defending the Future: Gender, Conflict, and Environmental Peace, the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, Gender Action for Peace and Security, and the Women’s International Peace Centre (2021).

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Following the 20th anniversary of Women, Peace and Security resolution 1325 in 2020, this report argues for broadening the Women, Peace and Security agenda to include environmental protection. Conflicts and associated violence can be caused by access to and power over natural resources and result in the destruction of the ecosystems on which people’s lives depend. 

Furthermore, the Women, Peace and Security agenda has largely overlooked how women and girls are disproportionately impacted by environmental conflicts. The report argues that funders see issues in isolation, causing women and girls’ movements to prioritize and segregate issues that are in reality interlinked. 

The report offers 10 recommendations to funders,  linking environmental and Women, Peace and Security agendas. A common thread is to centre the voices of women, youth, minority groups – people whose livelihoods depend on natural resources. It calls for feminist solutions to environmental peacebuilding, including:

  • Giving local organizations space for their voices.
  • Supporting and building women’s movements around the issue of land and the environment.
  • Supporting the agency of women and girls to be able to speak out.
  • Recognizing the expertise of those most affected by gender inequality, environmental degradation and environmental conflicts.

Much like the “Intrinsically Linked” report, this report reminds us that taking a feminist approach includes identifying the interconnections among issues and responding holistically.

Report: What the Water Brings: Lessons on funding young feminist activism on climate and environmental justice, FRIDA (2021).

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By reflecting on how FRIDA funds and accompanies young feminist activists working at the intersection of gender, climate, and environmental justice, this report offers insights to philanthropic funders on how best to support their efforts. 

FRIDA funds young activists “whose feminist, ecological and climate justice battles are one and the same.” By tackling one social issue, these activists often transform other struggles. FRIDA therefore defines the role of the funder as providing activists with flexible, long-term, core resources so they can lead efforts they believe are effective in the moment, as they also build autonomy and independence. FRIDA is also sensitive to its own position of power as a funder, and strives to be an “enabler of change” instead of a “gatekeeper of resources.” 

FRIDA offers five recommendations targeted at environmental and climate change donors who have not funded intersectional feminist and gender justice before: 

  • Reflect the multidimensional priorities of activists in your grantmaking. 
  • Provide core, flexible, and sustained funding. 
  • Mirror the outside world (in all its diversity) in your organization. 
  • Collaborate with other funders to support activists’ emerging challenges. 
  • Build transformational feminist climate infrastructure (i.e. collective care of people and planet). 

With the report’s release on the heels of COP26, of particular interest is its reflection on UN spaces. While “flawed with power imbalances… and a lack of true action towards climate justice,” they offer an opportunity for movement-building and to “shine a light on young people’s leadership and the intersectional alternatives they are leading around the world.” Feminist collective action often arises from key moments like UN climate negotiations. Funders need to support this action, even if it is not instigated by registered organizations, the usual recipients of traditional grants. 

The strongest theme that emerges from this report is that funders need to meet activists where they are, on their own terms. 

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