COP21: key reading from BRIDGE

A woman farms cauliflower in Himachal Pradesh, India. A man works in the background.

Around 50,000 are descending on Paris, France for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

The event is big on the international news agenda because the expected outcome is a new, legally binding, international agreement on climate change – for the first time of over 20 years of negotiations. On 28 and 29 November, over half a million people around the world took to the streets to call for meaningful action.

Because of gendered social roles, women are in the front line of climate change impacts, such as droughts, floods and other extreme weather events – yet they are the least responsible for environmental destruction. Although climate change is recognised as a global crisis, responses tend to focus on scientific and economic solutions rather than addressing the gender dimensions.

The BRIDGE Gender and Climate Change Cutting Edge Pack sets out why a change of approach is vital and identifies key gender impacts of climate change, clearly mapping the global and national policy architecture that dominates climate change responses. The Pack advocates for a transformative approach in which:

  • Women and men have an equal voice in decision-making on climate change and broader governance processes
  • Women and men are given equal access to the resources necessary to respond to the negative effects of climate change
  • Both women’s and men’s needs and knowledge are taken into account and climate change policymaking institutions and processes at all levels are not biased towards men or women
  • The broad social constraints that limit women’s access to strategic and practical resources no longer exist

Food Security is also greatly impacted by climate change, as highlighted by the recent BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack on Gender and Food Security

Climate change has multiple implications for food and nutrition security. Unsustainable food systems are contributing to environmental degradation, which in turn is exacerbating food scarcity and food price volatility. As food producers and providers it is women, and often girls, who are being most seriously affected by these issues. 

Women farmers usually have fewer assets on which to rely in times of crop failure and limited access to alternative livelihoods. Because they often lack official rights to land and do not make primary decisions about what crops will be grown and are at a disadvantage in developing mitigation and adaptation strategies. They also often have less access to vital information that would enable more effective climate adaptation. 

Climate change is also contributing to a growing problem of water scarcity, with serious implications for crop production and food security. 

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