A call to action for gender-just, low-carbon economies


At COP28 in Dubai in November-December 2023, governments will negotiate a political statement and commitment to further action on 'just transitions': how transitions to low-carbon economies can provide decent, secure employment for millions of workers. Sign this call to action for gender-just, low-carbon economies to raise the profile of women's empowerment as a critical consideration for the climate talks and COP28 decision.  

The call was first devised at a side event of the Women Deliver 2023 conference convened by CDKN and ODI, where participants discussed that governments, businesses, organisations and individuals must move further, faster, to achieve the interconnected goals of gender equality, a net zero world and climate resilience in practice. This is the statement and call to action of the session, signed by contributors in their personal capacities. Please help us to amplify this call on the important occasion of COP28 by joining the call here. Signing the googleform implies you agree for your name to be included publicly as a signatory.

A climate crisis –  for which we hold the solutions 

Climate change has caused widespread losses and damages for nature and people. It has affected lives and livelihoods through destruction of homes and infrastructure, loss of property and income, and harms to human health and food and water security. Climate change is eroding development progress and amplifying economic, social and environmental risks to undermine people’s wellbeing.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s leading authority of scientific opinion on climate change – recognises that climate change harms disadvantaged people the most profoundly, with “adverse effects on gender and social equity” (IPCC, 2023).

Human activities that release greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming. Today, the world is at 1.1oC of average global warming above preindustrial levels. Already the extent of climate-related loss and damage is becoming unbearable in many places. Current, implemented policies put the world on a pathway to 3.2 oC of average warming. More urgent emissions reductions must start today, led by the richest and highest-emitting people and countries.

This scenario unfolds in a world where the gender development gap is still large and women’s rights are under widespread assault (WEF, 2023). Despite warm words on gender equality and climate action, governments, businesses and multilateral agencies and funders are lacking in ambition. And, they are largely failing to achieve the gender equality and low-carbon, climate-resilience commitments that they have made. 

Gender equality and climate action must not only be prioritised in their own right, but they must also be integrated effectively together, in policy and practice. Unless vulnerable and/or marginalised groups, including Indigenous people, are explicitly engaged and accorded leadership of climate action, they are unlikely to access the full benefits. They could even face ‘maladaptation’ – a weakening of their resilience.

It takes concerted, integrated visions and actions to adapt to climate change, curb greenhouse emissions and empower women and marginalised peoples. We, the undersigned, call for bold new leadership as follows, based on our evidence and experience:

A call to action

Governments, multilateral organisations, international financial institutions, programme leaders, non-governmental and civil society organisations:

  • Do not treat gender equality and low-carbon development goals and policies in isolation. The risks are too high. Integrate them fully.
  • Learn from the few pioneering governments that have put human rights, including the human rights of women and children, at the heart of their comprehensive climate strategies and plans, and adapt and scale these pioneering approaches.
  • View the current environmental pressures and persistence of inequality as a chance to modernise and innovate the way we work and consume.
  • Recognise and embrace gender-equitable, low-carbon, climate-resilient actions that restore the degraded environment, its depleted soils and waterways. In the agriculture, forestry and other land-based ‘green economies’ and coastal-marine ‘blue economy’, this means:
    • Co-develop and test actionable intervention options with smallholders and communities and develop context-specific implementation guidance).
    • Co-develop policies and strategies to create enabling conditions for women’s meaningful engagement and empowerment in value chains.
    • Capacitate targeted producers and consumers with guidelines, community training and communications materials.
  • Change attitudes and behaviours related to gender norms and power relations with specific attention to new norms and power dynamics emerging in response to the climate crisis and ensuring that these do not erode women’s and disadvantaged groups’ rights and access to resources. 
  • Ensure that new and changing governance structures that address the climate crisis and intersecting risks have both equitable participation of women and disadvantaged groups and mechanisms for just and equitable benefit-sharing.
  • One-size does not fit all situations.  Invest effort in understanding how the different systems that work against women are present in a given context. 
  • Invest in programmes or programme components to increase self-esteem of women and their control over their own lives, early on.  
  • Ensure programmes make financial sense at individual and household level, especially for women.
  • Invest in school and skills-training curricula for learners of all ages, and especially younger generations, that will empower them for a new world of low-carbon, climate-resilient, decent work.
  • Invest in generating data to shed light on women’s participation and potential contribution to climate-resilient and low-carbon value chains.

Private sector:  

  • Support smallholder producers along the value-chain through initiatives that encourage associativity: pooling of collective action and resources by smallholders to capitalise on and achieve high environmental standards. 
  • Through targeted approaches, support women’s access to credit, land and inputs as well as techniques and technologies that will enhance the ecological sustainability of their businesses. 
  • Leverage funding from sources that traditionally have not engaged with the private sector, such as impact investors, to support smallholder producers to pursue ecological choices.
  • Involve men actively as allies in the economic empowerment of women in low-carbon, climate-resilient transitions.

Women’s and LGBTQIA+ movements:  

  • Your knowledge, expertise and engagement is vital, especially at national and subnational levels, to ensure climate policies and programmes and climate-smart shifts in production systems advance gender equality and the wellbeing of diverse peoples.
  • Contribute gender expertise and insight constructively at all stages of the climate-resilient development cycle: design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. 
  • Use the increasingly accessible materials on climate change trends, impacts and implications from the IPCC to skill up women’s and LGBTQIA+ groups, so that they can be even better-informed stakeholders in the low-carbon economic transition.
  • If you cannot find relevant climate materials, link with your government or specialist NGOs and think tanks to strengthen the climate literacy of the gender equality movement.  

Research funders:  

  • Fund more applied research on low-carbon development, climate resilience and gender intersections.

Become a signatory and join the call here


[Signed in alphabetical order by first name]

Ahmed Sourani, Gaza Urban Agriculture Platform

Alaa Abu Jayab, Gaza Urban Agriculture Platform 

Ameil Rabin Harikishun, CDKN and SSN

Arjan de Haan, IDRC - Delhi

Ayesha Khan, ODI

Bhim Adhikari, IDRC - Ottawa

Elizabeth Tan, ODI

Emma Baker, CDKN and SSN

Gabriela Villamarín Jurado, Quito 

Gyanu Maskey, Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies

Ibrahim Abdul-Ganiyu, WUZDA-GHANA

Julian Vargas Talavera, Fundación IES - Bolivia

Kate Kloppers, CDKN and SSN

Kanchan Lama, Gender and Inclusion Expert, Nepal

Karnika Yadav, Intellecap Advisory Partners

Lisa McNamara, CDKN and SSN

Mairi Dupar, CDKN and ODI

Meeta S. Pradhan, Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies

Shehnaaz Moosa, SSN  

Srijana Baral, Forest Action Nepal

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