Towards a gender-responsive mitigation framework: Learning from experiences in the energy sector

Ana Victoria Rojas, ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report recognises that mitigation and adaptation discussions raise issues of equity, justice and fairness – not only because lack of action on mitigation initiatives results in the erosion of the basics for sustainable development, grants adaptation responses insufficient and shifts the burden of mitigation to future generations. Climate change policies should therefore intersect sustainable development goals, generating social and environmental co-benefits, such as achieving goals related to food security, biodiversity, energy access, livelihoods, and equitable sustainable development. With 1.3 billion people worldwide without access to electricity, and about 3 billion depending on traditional solid fuels for cooking and heating (with severe adverse effects on health, ecosystems and development), ensuring access to modern renewable and efficient energy services is an important sustainable development objective.

In spite of the growing mandate of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) bodies to address gender considerations – including 32 UNFCCC Decisions referencing gender in their text as of mid-2014 – there are few existing energy access or climate mitigation projects that have been implemented with gender mainstreaming as a priority, or collected gender-specific data about outcomes. For example, only five from a sample of 3,864 Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) registered projects utilised the gender empowerment indicator of the UNFCCC in 2012.

One of the barriers towards achieving a higher number of gender responsive energy initiatives seems to be the lack of awareness on existing gender methodologies, and experiences from the energy sector that can inform mitigation initiatives. One example that can be learnt from is that of Rural Communities Development Agency (RCDA), a Georgian based non-governmental organisation and member of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF). RCDA has developed a gender responsive National Appropriate Mitigation Activity (NAMA) for the energy sector in Georgia, covering technologies such as improved stoves and solar water heaters.

Meanwhile, ENERGIA, the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, produced a handbook which offers tools for energy project managers to address gender and social considerations in the planning, implementation and monitoring of their activities. Some important elements of plans for gender mainstreaming are:

  • conducting gender audits of decision-making and management processes;
  • engaging gender experts to assist with institutional and project-level gender mainstreaming plans;
  • collecting gender-disaggregated data;
  • incorporating gender-sensitive budgeting and accounting approaches; and
  • using gender-based indicators and evaluation procedures.

In 2014, and through a joint publication with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), this handbook was expanded into a guideline for policy makers and practitioners to further address gender mainstreaming in energy policies and institutions and projects. Moreover, the 2012 Guideline on Renewable Energy Technologies for Women in Rural and Informal Urban Areas, produced jointly by IUCN and ENERGIA, aims to increase women’s awareness of household renewable energy technologies, to support women make informed decisions with regards to the most appropriate technology for their particular needs and context.

The COP20 side event Towards a Gender-Responsive Mitigation Framework for
transformative change in the energy sector
will showcase the abovementioned expriences as well as the instrumental role government institutions play in the implementation of effective gender interventions in the energy sector. The side event will take place on 10 December, at 3:00 pm in room Maranga.