FCDO 1980 x 830

Defending the Future: Gender, Conflict and Environmental Peace

This report focuses on the gendered impact of climate change and how this intersects with women and girls’ right to peace. At the time of writing this report, there is a growing recognition of the need for the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda to take into account how the climate crisis poses risks to women and girls’ peace and security, particularly in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Food security, water insecurity and displacement are issues affecting women and girls due to extreme weather and the climate emergency.

The intersection of WPS, climate change, ecological destruction and conflict or post-conflict situations thus raises a myriad of issues. As the recent UN Report on Gender, Climate and Security put it: “There is therefore an urgent need for better analysis and concrete, immediate actions to address the linkages between climate change and conflict from a gender perspective”

This report is based on interviews with practitioners, experts, academics and activists. Together with a roundtable held in London in January and four focus group discussions which took place in Uganda in 2020, the project involved 126 participants in total. The report written in partnership between the Centre, the Women’s International Peace Centre and Gender Action for Peace and Security.

Read the report in full here

Key recommendations

1. Ensure women and girls’ participation
Women and adolescent girls should be acknowledged as technical experts in climate change, on the environment, in conflict and peacebuilding and be able to participate in decision-making spaces on climate change and the environment. 

2. Undertake participatory gender-conflict-environmental analysis
All actors engaged in peacebuilding and conflict resolution should ensure that all conflict and peacebuilding projects, programmes, policy and research are based on participatory, intersectional gender-conflict-environmental analysis that includes assessments of and responses to: environmental and climate change; structural and root causes of conflict and gender inequality; power, including corporate power; and colonial histories.

3. Deliver women and girls’ human rights
All actors should ensure women and girls’ human rights are at the centre of all responses to climate, peace, conflict and gender which: address the diverse rights, needs and experiences of displaced women and girls; acknowledges women and girls’ right to land; supports women and girls’ economic empowerment and justice; addresses systematic violations of women and girls’ rights, including VAWG; and also ensures reparations.

4. Address intersectionality
All actors should ensure work in conflict contexts integrates perspectives on gender and the environment through conflict, security and peacebuilding projects, programmes, policy, peace processes and research, which are intersectional in their design, implementation and evaluation. This should result in an increase in funding for women and girls’ rights programmes as well as gender aspects of broader programmes. Such programmes need be designed to ensure they deliver for all women and girls and their intersecting identities, including gender, race, ethnicity, disability, class, age, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social-economic status.

5. Ensure inclusion
States, inter-governmental bodies and international institutions should recognise and support traditional solutions to environmental management by Indigenous groups and recognise Indigenous rights and their special connection to the land.

6. Support and fund networks and organisations
States, inter-governmental and international institutions should formally acknowledge the threats to women human rights defenders (WHRDs), environmental defenders and women’s rights organisations working on peace, the environment and gender equality. They should support networks of WHRDs and organisations, including funding for their self-defined priorities which enables them to work on strategies for addressing the systemic and structural attacks on rights and the environment, as well as responses to climate, gender inequality and peace.

7. Defend women human rights defenders and environmental defenders
The international community should support and fund protection mechanisms for WHRDs and environmental defenders which are based on a sound protection strategy, use organisational privilege to take on and redistribute risk and space and include an emergency protection fund. 

8. Address and challenge corporate power
The international community should acknowledge and reverse the negative impacts of corporate power on women and girls’ rights and the environment. Governments and multilateral agencies should ensure that the rights, needs and experiences of those affected by climate insecurity and climate-related conflict is not outweighed by the power of corporations.

9. Develop comprehensive national action plans linked to climate change and the environment 
Women, Peace and Security actors should have a greater focus on the environment and environmental actors should have a greater focus on gender equality. An integrated approach to plans for gender equality and the environment is essential, with a view to developing combined WPS and environmental action plans.

10. Build the capacity of international community
The international community – including governments, donors, multilateral agencies and international non-government organisations (INGOs) – should invest in building their own capacity to implement these recommendations to move towards a more equal world that addresses climate change, conflict and gender inequality.