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While working towards gender equality may be business as usual in many countries, in much of the world massive disparities in education, empowerment and opportunities remain a daily reality for women and girls.

Gender equality is an environmental issue.

Environmental threats represent the greatest challenge we face today.

Waters recede in some places, drying lands and livelihoods out while sea levels and hurricanes inundate and sweep others away. Temperature changes threaten entire species and agricultural economies, challenging the resilience of communities.

“Women should benefit from this project, otherwise we’ll have to continue to go in and cut the mangrove.”

There is strength in numbers, the old idiom goes. Indeed, history shows that collaboration fosters ideas and results. Next week, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, or GPSC, will convene in New Delhi, India, to again share ideas and build on their collective vision: to work towards shaping cities that are sustainable, thriving, and inclusive through the decades ahead.
 

Seeing a lionfish while diving in the Caribbean is a cause for mixed emotions.  On the one hand, one marvels at the exquisite beauty of the fishes’ flowery fins and its amazing adaptability to a range of habitats, from shallow estuaries with low salinity to deep reef environments. But then you remember that these fish don’t belong in the Caribbean, and that the very versatility noted above makes them an invasive menace.

More than a thousand years ago, the Vikings lived and died by the sea while often taking to the oceans in specially designed wooden ships and sailing for the unknown. They dreamt of plunder, stories to entertain the long winter nights, and not least of new trading posts and farm-land, far surpassing the fertility of the land of their ancestors in which they resided.

In many ways the oceans remain an untapped and untamed resource, offering huge promise for future generations. Our oceans, however, are not unaffected by humankind.

Water is not a commodity and not a mere resource - it is the very foundation of life.  As poetic as it sounds, the meaning behind this simple truth nowadays provides reasons for concern.

Today, the GEF joins the global community in celebrating International Women’s Day.  It is an ideal time to reflect on GEF’s efforts to advance the role of women in environmental sectors worldwide. When the GEF adopted its Policy on Gender Mainstreaming in 2011, only a minority of projects considered gender issues. Now, just five years later, we are strengthening our efforts to address gender gaps across all of our programs and projects. Furthermore, we are working to deliver on positive synergies between improved environmental management and greater gender equality.

In 2010, 15 days after graduating from college, with nothing but a backpack and an old water bottle, I stood in front of a large gate with a rusted sign welcoming me to the “Pench Tiger Reserve.” The same reserve that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s, Jungle Book. None of the mock interviews  or standardized tests could have prepared me for the job at hand.