By Dr Basundhara Bhattarai

As we move further into post-Paris climate policy world, climate finance debate has occupied a centre stage. This is a good thing. However, most of the talks and actions seem to be gender non-responsive. What we need is not just the climate finance, but gender transformative climate finance.

Fluctuating financial flow 

study by Climate Policy Initiative shows that climate finance flow has remained highly variable in the past few years. It shows:

The flow reached a record high of $437 billion dollars in 2015, followed by a 12% drop in 2016 to $383 billion, although still higher than flows in 2012 and 2013.

Source: Climate Policy Initiative, 2017



The report acknowledges that data limitations can hamper more accurate picture of climate finance landscape.

However, everyone is looking at and talking about how much climate finance is flowing, and much less is given to its gender dimension. For instance, just think of this question: Are women equally involved in designing and delivering these climate finance programs? And how are men and the worldviews of men and women incorporated into implementation?

Why gender matters in climate finance 


Remember 9 out of 10 countries in the world have a law that discriminates against women, according to a World Bank Report. This is just an indicator of the global gender inequality, a context that cannot be overlooked in global climate finance design.

Evidence shows current climate finance has not addressed the gender gap. Let’s look at some facts compiled by a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report:

  • Only 0.01 percent of all worldwide funding supports projects that address both climate change and women’s rights.
  • In 2011 and 2012, only $469 million – just 2 percent of all bilateral aid – was directed towards initiatives that had women’s economic empowerment as a principal objective.
  • In 2015, just 14 out of 193 (7 percent) of Finance Ministers globally were women.
  • In 2015, female representation in the governing bodies of the major climate funds was, on average, just 22 percent.

Clearly, the gender gap in current climate financing is huge and way beyond the expected gender equality outcomes of Sustainable Development Goals.

Emerging initiatives 

Gender justice is not a new thing in the global development community, and some climate finance initiatives have picked up this idea into their action. Green Climate Fund (GCF) has put in place Gender Policy and Action Plan, as an explicit recognition of gender gap. Similarly, the Clean Investment Funds (CIF), also adopted a Gender Action Plan in 2014.

In the broader arena of multilateral programming, gender consideration is becoming increasingly a serious matter, as illustrated by UNDP’s gender strategy, which requires that all projects and programmes ensure budgeting for gender mainstreaming.

Fig 2. Women gathering fuelwood in Nepal.

However, the issue is: To what extent such formal provisions create the impact on the ground?

Gathering evidence, forging critical dialogues 

More efforts are needed to track how and to what extent gender justice ideas and climate finance initiatives are going together or could go together. Learning from local actions are crucial for informing global climate finance dialogues. In the end, none of us wants to allow climate finance to further disempower women at the household level, even though increased climate money leads to overall societal resilience. If any of our well-intentioned efforts around climate finance worsens gender inequality, we will be violating the fundamental human rights.