Summary report, 12–13 November 2016

Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA) Innovation Forum

The Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA) Innovation Forum took place from 12-13 November 2016 on the sidelines of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco, and was held at Université Cadi Ayyad. Supported by the Oak Foundation and UN Women, the GGCA Innovative Forum brought together approximately 200 participants, including representatives of UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), students and researchers, to encourage, inter alia, gender responsiveness within climate change policies, decision-making processes, and initiatives at the global, regional and national levels.

Building from the launch of the GGCA in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007, gender considerations have expanded within the UNFCCC negotiations over time. In 2014, at COP 20 in Lima, Peru, parties adopted the Lima Work Programme on Gender. In 2015, at COP 21 in Paris, France, delegates adopted the Paris Agreement, which recognizes climate change as a common concern of humankind, underscoring the need to take action to address climate change, while respecting, promoting and considering respective obligations on, inter alia, human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities, gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.

Parties have concentrated efforts on two goals under the dedicated gender and climate change agenda item, namely: improving gender balance and increasing the participation of women in all UNFCCC processes; and increasing awareness and support for the development and effective implementation of gender-responsive climate policy at the regional, national and local levels. In 2016, parties agreed to review progress on the goals of the Lima Work Programme on Gender prior to and during COP 22. In parallel to the more technical discussions on gender taking place in the negotiations, the GGCA Innovation Forum offered a space to discuss more thematic gender issues. The Forum aimed to: acknowledge milestones in achieving gender-responsive climate policy, including within the Paris Agreement; learn and share skills and best practices for implementation; and move towards real action on climate for women and men around the world.

The GGCA Innovation Forum began on Saturday, 12 November, with a morning plenary that addressed ‘Gender on the Agenda: Where We Are, Where We Are Going.’ It continued throughout the morning and afternoon with 10 separate ‘Skills-Share’ workshops. In the afternoon, participants gathered for an evening plenary on ‘People, Gender and Policy on a Changing Planet.’ The evening closed with a GGCA ‘Seeds of Change’ Award Ceremony, which recognized five innovative projects from around the world on gender-responsive climate policy.

On Sunday, the Forum continued, with a morning plenary on ‘From Words to Action: Is it possible?’ This was followed by Lightning Talks and small-group discussions, building on Saturday’s Skills-Share workshop themes. The Forum closed with a high-level panel on ‘A Dialogue: from Advocate to Activist,’ moderated by Mary Robinson, President of Mary Robinson Foundation.



On Saturday morning, Bridget Burns, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), opened the GGCA Innovation Forum, reflecting that after a decade of forming and building alliances, the GGCA had gathered participants to analyze innovative climate solutions, which take into account gender equality and women’s roles, recognizing the social impacts of climate change and the “women power” to combat this challenge.

Welcoming participants, Mohamed Rigar, Université Cadi Ayyad, highlighted the need to enhance women’s participation in decision making, especially regarding food production, an area in which African women play a crucial role.

Sam Bickersteth, CEO, Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), moderated the first session, highlighting the importance of local implementation within the international framework on climate and gender.

Aira Kalela, Climate Change and Gender Equality Finland, outlined progress made in inserting gender issues in the climate change negotiations framework, building on progress made since COP 13, which took place in 2007 in Bali. She welcomed the Paris Agreement’s mention of gender equality and women’s empowerment in addressing climate change, and noted the COP 22 draft decision to continue the Lima Work Programme on Gender for the next three years.

Lorena Aguilar, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said that 40% of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) mentioned the need to include gender-responsiveness in mitigation and adaptation actions. She underlined the need to build capacity in women’s movements within the climate negotiations, highlighting the role women can play in fostering such actions.

Daniel Seymour, Deputy Director, UN Women, suggested a lack of data and evidence is the main obstacle to integrating climate and gender. He urged addressing climate change, gender mainstreaming and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) simultaneously, to reduce poverty, promote food security and further gender equality.

Calling for gender policies to be translated into practice, Gertrude Kenyangi, Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment, highlighted that female land ownership remains an issue in many developing countries. She stated that without land ownership or legal protections, women cannot, for example, plant forests or purchase insurance.

Reflecting on the high and low points of addressing gender equity, as they played out in previous UNFCCC COPs, Farah Kabir, ActionAid Bangladesh, lauded the Paris Agreement for providing a framework and a timeframe for gender mainstreaming within the climate change discussions. She called for bridging the gap between the climate change and women’s movements, noting their common agendas.

Noting that while it took a some time to convince environmental NGOs to consider gender issues, Gotelind Albert, Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice (Gender CC), suggested moving forward, taking a closer look at how gender responsiveness can contribute to the effectiveness of climate policy. She called for building stronger partnerships and alliances, including with cities and urban areas.

The ensuing discussion addressed, inter alia: the role alliances can play to better integrate gender dimensions within the NDC process; how risks are perceived between men and women; and the need to include a gender dimension within risk and insurance discussions.


Following the opening plenary, participants broke into five Skills-Share workshops, which addressed: gender-budgeting for climate policy, and making the budget work for women and girls; supporting gender-responsive climate policy and action, what it is and how to make it happen; supporting gender-responsive mitigation action and women empowering change; linking approaches, methodologies and tools to integrate gender into urban climate policy; and highlighting gender roles in the promotion of sustainable and healthy production and consumption patterns and lifestyles.

In the afternoon, the GGCA Innovation Forum continued with Skills-Share workshops on: making climate finance 100% gender-responsive; breaking patriarchal barriers for gender-sensitive climate change initiatives; promoting networking and advocacy of female human rights defenders in the context of extractive industries and climate change; identifying gaps, spotlighting progress, and using data tools, monitoring and evaluation systems to track and inspire implementation of gender-responsive action; and linking people, gender and policy on a changing planet.

IISD Reporting Services covered four of these workshops, as described below.

GENDER-RESPONSIVE CLIMATE POLICY AND ACTION: WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO WE MAKE IT HAPPEN: Jukka Markus Ihalainen, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), moderated the workshop on gender-responsive climate policy. He explained that discussions were structured around four thematic workshop groups, on advocacy, design, implementation and outcomes, with each group having a dedicated facilitator. After discussions, each group’s facilitator reported back to all participants.

Bridget Burns, WEDO, facilitated the advocacy group, highlighting the need to: recognize progress; build alliances at all levels; and ensure implementation is taking place. She stressed the need to identify visible and invisible powers and create space to carry out transformative advocacy.

Molly Gilligan, IUCN Global Gender Office, facilitated the design group, underscoring the need to move from gender-sensitiveness towards gender-responsiveness. She called for gender inclusiveness when elaborating policy and identified how participation helps in implementation.

Virginie Le Masson, Overseas Development Institute, facilitated the implementation group, highlighting discussions on implementing gender-responsive programmes and the need to: promote women’s empowerment while addressing gender equality; reconcile conflicting interests of relevant vulnerable groups; and avoid creating unintentional or additional inequalities when implementing strategies and policies to address climate change.

Anne Larson, CIFOR, facilitated the outcome group, which addressed how to deliver transformative changes. She highlighted the need to go beyond formal participation when implementing actions and monitoring their progress. She said women’s quotas are a good starting point, while also highlighting the importance of men’s participation in gender discussions to prevent conflicts of interests.

In the ensuing discussion, participants noted, inter alia, the need to: focus on outcomes and results; use the gender agenda to consider social inclusion of other relevant groups; simplify the UNFCCC’s gender guideline language, so that it can be understood by grassroots women’s groups; and integrate SDG 5 (to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) when implementing climate policies and actions.

APPROACHES, METHODOLOGIES AND TOOLS TO INTEGRATE GENDER INTO URBAN CLIMATE POLICY: Patricia Bohland, Gender CC, opened the workshop, asking participants to discuss their “vision of a gender-just and sustainable city” in small groups. The groups shared their visions, which included: recognition that men and women have different views of public space, and cities also need to plan safe, green and integrated public spaces for women; a focus on accessible and safe transportation systems, clean water and energy, and sufficient green spaces; the importance of urban safety for all; a gender-sensitive approach at different authority levels; equal access for men and women to education, health care, employment and transportation; and an emphasis on gender-focused capacity building and finance.

Offering a brief overview of gender and international urban climate policy, Eleanor Blomstrom, WEDO, explained that in 2015 and 2016, multiple processes, includingthe SDGs, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), resulted in additional support to address gender equity in urban areas. She suggested these processes offer “entry points” and resources when speaking with governments.

Gotelind Albert, Gender CC, presented the Gender into Urban Climate Change Initiative, piloted in several cities in India, South Africa and Indonesia. She explained the Gender Assessment Method for Mitigation and Adaptation (GAMMA) to access and monitor urban climate policy and actions from a gender perspective, as well as to offer recommendations for city governments. She called for, inter alia: mainstreaming climate change and gender into planning, policies and institutions; budgeting for gender-responsive climate policies and measures; and integrating socio-economic aspects within climate policy.

Ndivile Mokoena, Gender CC Southern Africa, explained the climate challenges, and corresponding climate policies in Johannesburg, South Africa. She said that while gender considerations were included in the city’s policies, they were often not implemented. 

Workshop participants then broke into small groups to test the GAMMA Scorecard, to see if they were able to understand some of the questions, and to see who the most appropriate audience would be. Participants offered reactions and challenges to using the GAMMA Scorecard, including: the challenge of “silo thinking” wherein government departments do not communicate; conflict of interest between different actors; whether cities have gender experts; communication problems; lack of participation in different sectors, such as planning; the need to consider gender in transportation and energy; and competing priorities, such as poverty and malnutrition.

Stating that the Scorecard was designed for institutions, but can also be used by communities, Albert offered closing remarks, underscoring that top-down and bottom-up approaches should be combined, in particular in cities, and capacity-building exercises conducted accordingly.

IDENTIFYING GAPS, SPOTLIGHTING PROGRESS: USING DATA TOOLS, MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEMS TO TRACK AND INSPIRE IMPLEMENTATION OF GENDER-RESPONSIVE ACTION: to launch the workshop, Molly Gilligan, IUCN Global Gender Office, summarized the IUCN publicly available gender data and information platform on climate change, energy and agriculture.

Responding to Gilligan, Prachi Rao, WEDO, highlighted the importance of sharing knowledge at the global and local levels. She stressed the importance of data, including how data is used in participants’ work and asked which data is missing. Participants then highlighted, inter alia: the use of data to provide reliable information to identify inequalities and injustices; and the notion and identification of “pink washing,” or the practice of pretending to take on gender issues in a project by only checking boxes.

Participants underscored the need for data on: household air pollution and women’s health; water collection and energy use; unpaid housework and the impact on gross domestic product; mortality and mobility data; and vulnerable and disabled women.

Bridget Burns, WEDO, presented WEDO’s work on gender references within UNFCCC documents. She also outlined the Gender Climate Tracker Mobile App that provides negotiators and interested actors with access to the latest information on research, decisions and actions related to gender and climate change.

Participants identified information that they would like to see added to the App on, inter alia: gender policies of entities accredited to the Green Climate Fund (GCF); and references to gender considerations in national adaptation plans.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE CLIMATE FINANCE 100% GENDER-RESPONSIVE: Liane Schalatek, Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America, led this workshop, underscoring the need to incorporate a gender awareness dimension within climate finance. She explained that climate finance is divided into three streams: mitigation; adaptation and resilience; and forest finance, through REDD+. Schalatek described the main climate financing channels, including funds allocated by: the UNFCCC, via the Global Environment Facility and the GCF; the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund; multilateral development banks; bilateral finance, such as Germany’s International Climate Initiative; and private-sector finance, such as for renewable energy investments.

Explaining that parties agreed to a financing obligation of US$100 billion per year until 2020, with this amount to increase after 2020, Schalatek cautioned participants, pointing out several challenges, including lack of a uniform definition of climate finance and lack of specifics regarding how much of this finance should be defined as public or private. She explained that under the GCF, private sector funding is accredited conditionally pending the adoption of a gender policy, and that support should be directed to projects with gender considerations.

Participants then broke into small groups to address two case studies: firstly, an Adaptation Fund project, ‘Taking Adaptation to the Ground in South Africa: A Small Grants Facility for Enabling Local Level Responses to Climate Change’; and secondly, a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development cross-cutting programme under the GCF, on ‘Sustainable Energy Financing Facilities.’ Participants suggested, inter alia: capacity building for executive agencies and recipients; criteria and guidelines, with a reference to transformational gender roles; governance and participation of women in decision making; “women-friendly conditions” for loans; subsidies for getting women involved; and the early involvement of women or organized cooperatives.

Closing the session, Schalatek acknowledged that gender considerations exist within certain funding streams, but noted they are vague and often weak. She urged participants to push for further and more holistic gender-responsive climate finance options.


 On Saturday afternoon, Thelma Ermelinda Tualufo Munhequete, Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development, moderated this plenary, noting the need to further gender responsiveness in climate policy.

Maité Rodríguez Blandón, Women and Peace Network and Huairou Commission, Guatemala, outlined a series of mechanisms and an existing network within Central America to address gender issues in conflict, peacekeeping, disaster risk reduction and food security.

Nino Gamisonia, Rural Communities Development Agency, Georgia, outlined problems faced by women in Georgia regarding climate change and its implications on food production and disaster frequency.

Shaila Shahid, Gender and Water Alliance, Bangladesh, highlighted challenges faced by women, with regards to vulnerability to climate change and its negative effects, including the challenges of: poverty pockets; droughts; insecurity in land tenure; and water and sanitation management.

Referring to the inequalities suffered by women, Sanaz Sohrabizadeh, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Iran, noted that women suffer disproportionately from disasters and have higher unemployment in Iran.

Colette Bénoudji, Lead Tchad, presented her work in Chad and Sudan, which addresses resilience and adaptation to extreme climate events in the Sahel Desert. Underscoring the difficult social standards for women and girls, she called for evidence-based research and corresponding action.

Highlighting the significant vulnerabilities to climate change in the Pacific Region, Ipul Vicky Powaseu, National Research Institute, Papua New Guinea, reminded participants, when discussing gender equity, to also remember the “people not present,” referring to persons with disabilities, notably women, that have additional challenges, particularly during disasters. 

The ensuing discussion acknowledged, inter alia, that: women and men are not homogeneous groups; the importance of data; the need for women within leadership positions at UN bodies; and recognition of local communities as key stakeholders.


On Saturday evening, Juliana Vélez, WEDO, opened the ceremony, which acknowledged innovative projects on gender-responsive climate policy.

Winnie Lichuma, Kenya, moderated the session, presenting the winners: Vital Actions for Sustainable Development, Cameroon, for the establishment of a gender coalition on climate change in Cameroon; Women and Peace Network and Huairou Commission, for a project on investing in grassroots women’s organizations to champion climate change adaptation and sustainable development; the Center for Social Studies and Planning, Ecuador, for a human rights, forest and climate change project; and the Samdhana Institute, Indonesia, for an early recovery and resilience building project.


This plenary session took place on Sunday morning, and was moderated by Eleanor Blomstrom, WEDO.

Liane Schalatek, Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America, outlined the barriers for women to access public and private finance that need to be tackled. She pointed out that gender entities can apply for accreditation to have direct access to the Adaptation Fund and the GCF.

Karina Larsen, Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and UNFCCC Gender Focal Point, noted the need to change the perception that “women are project beneficiaries that do not play a role in the decision-making process” and focus instead on implementation of such projects.

Emilia Reyes, Young Feminists for Climate Justice, Mexico, noted that countries are trying to avoid their gender mandate, outsourcing their responsibility to civil society. Stating that countries are under pressure to address the SDGs, she said they are not paying attention to the quality of their actions. Reyes also cautioned against “idealizing communities,” stating that they can also replicate inequalities and urged for considering gender equity at different levels.

Kalyani Raj, All India Women’s Conference, noted that in India, the biggest challenge is the country’s geographical diversity and the inadequacy of having one single adaptation plan. She drew attention to women’s traditional knowledge and skills to promote adaptation.

Verania Chao, UN Development Programme (UNDP), said the NDCs will be the driving force for national-level climate action. She noted that 65 countries have mentioned gender in their NDCs, while only nine have recognized the role of women in adaptation.

Winnie Lichuma, Kenya, underscored the need to work with climate focal points to communicate the expectations of the gender agenda on climate.

In the ensuing discussion, participants noted, inter alia: the need to promote collaboration among ministries in national government to address gender and climate issues; availability of financial resources to support grassroots women’s groups; how to scale-up small initiatives, in particular for adaptation; the role of communities in amplifying inequalities; and the need of education for enhancing grassroots movements.


On Sunday morning, Bridget Burns, WEDO, moderated the Lightning Talks, explaining that the talks would quickly review main messages from Saturday’s Skills-Share workshops. She clarified that, thereafter, participants would break into small groups to continue discussions on key themes.

Saying that rural women are most significantly impacted by climate change, but lack information on what climate change is and what to do about it, Constance Okollet, Osukuru United Women’s Network, Uganda, discussed community-based adaptation strategies in Ugandan rural communities. She highlighted grassroots activity trainings, including on: food security, via kitchen gardens; tree planting, with a focus on “cutting one, planting five” trees; water storage to be used for the kitchen gardens; entrepreneurship activities, including training on savings and credit; clean energy; and brick making activities. 

Molly Gilligan, IUCN Global Gender Office, highlighted the importance of data for policy making and advocacy in order to build a “quantitative story.” She noted data gaps, vis-à-vis gender and environment, as well as challenges in data gathering.

Patricia Bohland and Lisa Göldner, Gender CC, reviewed Saturday’s workshop and expressed the “large potential” to tackle many challenges simultaneously, including technical and social inequalities, gender inequalities and climate action.

Calling Central and South America a “dangerous region for women’s human rights defenders,” Laura Carvajal Echeverry, Fundación Acción Urgente America Latina, explained patterns of criminalization and harassment, namely in the context of the expansion of extractive industries in light of climate change. She explained several efforts to support her foundation’s work, including monitoring legislation and territorial issues, as well as providing small grants, both to support “urgent actions for those facing risks” and for advocacy work. 

Burns then invited participants to break into small groups and further discuss the main themes and topics as presented in the Lightning Talks.


On Sunday afternoon, Mary Robinson, President of Mary Robinson Foundation, moderated this session, noted the importance of having gender-sensitive climate responsiveness and welcomed the COP 22 draft decision to continue work on the Lima Work Programme on Gender.

Maria Alejandra Rodriguez Acha, Climate Justice Activist, Peru, highlighted the importance of calling for intergenerational climate justice. She noted the patriarchal context in which we live, explaining the need to recognize that while climate change affects the entire world, rural women in developing countries are affected the most. She underscored the need to incorporate “women wisdom” and knowledge on climate issues, and the work of young feminist activities, offering examples that address disability, sexual orientation and women’s participation in the climate negotiations. Underscoring that at both the local and global levels lack of representation and voice is an issue, she said “nothing about us without us supporting it.”

Working with climate justice and finance, Devi Leiper O’Malley, the Young Feminist Fund (FRIDA), called for a fairer distribution of and access to financial and natural resources. She explained FRIDA’s key attributes, including that it: offers a participatory grant-making model; is an intergenerational fund; and supports, through grants, small and emerging groups to address holistic work on systemic change.

Cautioning that access to finance for women is one of the biggest barriers to success, Wanjira Maathai, Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables Hub at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, said that unless finance distribution is improved, “we will not be able to address the SDGs.” Maathai said that approximately 70% of those in poverty are women and called for ensuring that they have access to purchasing power, for example for clean cookstoves.

Referencing SDG 13 (to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) and its target that mentions a focus on women, youth and marginalized communities, Robinson encouraged participants to take advantage of such “hooks” at the international level when pursuing their work. She said that gender and human rights issues are always a struggle, encouraging participants to continue the hard work. Reflecting on the difficulties of inserting gender language in the Paris Agreement, she highlighted the importance and value of identities and representation, such as the collective problem solving skills of indigenous women.

In closing, Burns thanked participants for coming to the inaugural GGCA Innovation Forum, and urged participants to continue the discussions and the progress made. The Forum closed at 2:14pm.

Further information


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