Global Gender & Environment Outlook (GGEO) High Level Political Forum, New York, 14 July 2016

During the second day of the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLFP), the key findings of the Global Gender and Environment Outlook (GGEO) – the first ever comprehensive assessment about gender and the environment - were presented.  The findings were presented by Elliot Harris within the HLPF meeting side event: Getting set for the SDG implementation from local to global.The side event was hosted by Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and UNEP. The GGEO is essential reading for those who are interested in the social dimensions of environmental issues, and in particular how these issues are gendered. The report examines a wide range of sectors and topics, including food production; water and sanitation; energy; sustainable consumption and production; fishing, marine and coastal communities; and forests.

Mr. Harris explained the impetus behind GGEO and its objectives, as well as the collaborative nature of the process to produce the GGEO, and acknowledged the contributions of partners and donors. He emphasised the importance of recognizing that environmental changes affect the lives of women and men differently and the fact that women represent more than half the world's population. Women stand in the front line in terms of poverty, and are uniquely vulnerable to environmental degradation. The burden falls disproportionately on women and young children, especially in less developed countries. 

The conclusions outlined in the GGEO call for the following: existing environmental and gender commitments to be effectively implemented by governments; adequate funding and resources to contribute to the development and implementation of gender sensitive environmental policies (including gender-sensitive financing mechanisms under the Multilateral Environmental Agreements; conduct gender-sensitive environmental assessments; recognize the importance of gender-disaggregated information; promote and support women’s voices, leadership and organization; bring men and boys, as well as women and girls, into the gender-and-environment conversation; create enabling conditions for large-scale transformations with respect to the environment and gender; and address unpaid work and time poverty.

Prof. Joni Seager, coordinating lead author for GGEO, addressed the need for gender disaggregated data for all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ‘taking the lid off the household’ by examining intra-household dynamics. The lack of gender desegregated data makes both men and women invisible, but collecting data by within a household makes women particularly visible. She stressed on the need to balance macro data (quantitative) and micro (qualitative) data and focus on ‘understanding lives as they are lived’ at the small scale.  

“Our success in implementing the environmental component of the 2030 Agenda depends on our ability to step up to 50/50 parity on the gender issue. Here, the GGEO is a useful tool to identify the issues and explore policy options“

Dr. Sascha Gabizon, GGEO lead author and Executive Director of WECF International, addressed the importance of gender in data and assessments and how the GGEO can be used to ensure national SDG plans will ‘leave no-one behind’. She called attention to the fact that most of the environmental SDGs do not have gender specific targets. A good example that has a gender target is SDG target 6.2 on access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, which pays special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

Progress has been made on many fronts, as the importance of gender-environment synergies is increasingly acknowledged in international agreements and national policies as crucial to our ability to achieve a just, equitable and sustainable future. Analysis of gender and the environment is now driving sustainable development initiatives such as the development of cleaner burning cook stoves, and more equitable water distribution schemes.  Yet despite hard-won gains, there is still a long way to go. The presentation on GGEO at the HLPF, which follows a presentation of GGEO critical issues at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in May 2016, is another crucial step towards making more sustainable and equitable people-environmental policies a global reality.

The other part of the side-event addressed national and local tools for gender responsive SDG implementation, featuring a presentation by Ms. Sunita Kotnala, on an Indian case study on the significance of the gender resource gap (between men and women in the access and use of resources) and its inclusion in planning. Ms. Emilia Reyes, from Equidad de Genero, a Mexican NGO, presented on the use and effectiveness of gender budgeting tools and legislation. Such tools have been used in Mexico to maintain sustainability of gender equality measures and will be used to move forward the 2030 Agenda. Finally, Ms. Monika Linn, Principal Advisor of the Executive Secretary, UNECE, shared information on future gender-related statistics work within the European region

GGEO Panellists:

  1. Mr. Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary General and Director of New York Office, UNEP 
  2. Prof. Joni Seager, Coordinating Lead Author, GGEO
  3. Ms. Sascha Gabizon, Lead Author,  GGEO and Executive Director Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF)