Gender and Poverty and Climate Change Finance

“Climate change financing creates an opportunity to address long-standing equity issues, including gender inequality and other forms of social injustice, and can help facilitate and build upon ongoing processes for promoting equality, fairness and justice in the global economy.” (UNDP, 2011)

The delivery of climate finance in ways that strengthen gender equity and promote poverty reduction is increasingly being recognized in the global discourse on the mitigation and adaptation response to climate change. The gender dimension addresses the differential impact of climate change on women and men, while recognizing that both are affected by it. The poverty dimension addresses the disproportionate impact of climate change on the poor, especially in rural, agricultural, coastal and marginal communities. The magnitude of the impact calls for a transformative approach which would use climate finance as a catalyst for a more inclusive model of development, both in policy and in practice.

A gender-sensitive approach to climate finance is increasingly being used by donors to better address potential gender inequalities that could result from climate change. The Green Fund for Development (GFD) in its mandate states that “the Fund will strive to maximize the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation, and seek a balance between the two, while promoting environmental, social, economic and development co-benefits and taking a gender-sensitive approach.

There is increasing evidence that a climate-sensitive development approach has significant ‘double wins’ for both poverty alleviation and gender equality. Recent analysis from climate impact models indicate that a 2-4OC rise in global temperatures    would adversely impact agricultural production, reduce crop yields and fish stocks, increase competition for water resources and affect economic activity in coastal cities through a secular rise in sea levels and frequent extreme weather events such as floods and cyclones in South and South-east Asia.[1]

Countries that undertake ‘climate-smart’ development policies, however, will be able to counteract most of the negative impacts of long-term climate change and maintain GDP growth momentum. Social impact models of climate change predict that lives can be saved, jobs created, crops protected, energy use enhanced and emissions reduced if the right policy mix is adopted.[2]

The effectiveness of a development strategy incorporating climate change depends on the policy framework, national and local institutions, and public expenditure. An enabling policy framework recognizes that climate change is a long-term developmental issue that needs to address its impact on poverty and gender and therefore needs a multisectoral approach. The capacity of national and local institutions is critical for implementing this strategy, which will also determine the effectiveness of public expenditure in targeting sectors and activities that will have the greatest impact on climate resilience.  It is, therefore, important to recognize that there are three policy and institutional pillars that determine the extent of ‘double wins’ from the point of view of development policy. These are: i) poverty alleviation, ii) gender equity and iii) climate change resilience.

The set of policies are intersecting – poverty and gender policies overlap especially in countries of South Asia which has witnessed increased feminization of poverty.[3] At the same time, a fairly large body of research has also confirmed the disproportionate impact of climate change on the poor, especially rural women from marginalized communities living in areas particularly vulnerable to climate change.[4],[5] From the policy, institutional and public expenditure standpoint, these linkages need to be identified and analysed for meaningful policy recommendations.

This analytical framework can be used to extend the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) methodology to incorporate poverty and gender analysis. CPEIR has emerged as an important tool in analysing public resources invested by countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities and the institutions that determine its implementation. Several CPEIRs have been conducted in the Asia-Pacific region, covering countries as diverse as Nepal and Samoa. However, gender and poverty impact of climate finance has so far not been incorporated explicitly in the methodology. This note is an attempt to unpack the conceptual and practical elements that would help advance the methodology for a country and sub-national level gender sensitive and poverty focused CPEIR.

A pro-poor and gender-sensitive CPEIR should be based on the climate change risk and vulnerability assessment in the country to inform the analysis. The outcome should be a set of recommendations for countries to take action in order to mitigate risks and build resilience, especially for the poor and disadvantaged     (Figure 2). Policies, institutions and public resources need to be proactively reoriented to address these current and emerging challenges posed by climate change.

Further analysis and information as well as recommendations on how to incorporate Gender and Poverty Analysis in the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review to can be found in the UNDP’s Methodological Note.


[1] World Bank (2013). Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience

[2] World Bank (2014). Climate-Smart Development: Adding up the benefits of actions that help build prosperity, end poverty and combat climate change.

[3] SIDA (2001). Briefing Paper on the ‘Feminisation of Poverty’, BRIDGE, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK

[4] OECD (2005). Poverty and Climate Change: Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor through Adaptation

[5] UNDP (2013). Overview of Linkages between Gender and Climate Change. Policy Brief No.1