GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodríguez:
I am privileged to lead the Global Environment Facility at this critical juncture in history. Every individual is facing the effects of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution. Addressing these challenges and lessening their impacts on all of us will require a focus on social inclusion, partnerships, and a commitment to human rights. This includes ending the marginalization of half of the planet’s people – women and girls.
This is why the Global Environment Facility requires that every project we fund includes an emphasis on gender equality, such as steps to support participation in decision-making related to natural resource management, and to ensure women and girls access the socio-economic benefits of environmental projects.
These are core values included in our Gender Equality Policy and reflected in the GEF-8 inclusive programming directions. At the national and regional level and at COPs of the conventions that the GEF serves, we are investing in capacity building, learning, and awareness-raising efforts about how gender equality and social inclusion underpins positive environmental results.
Because of these measures, GEF funding directly benefits women who live and work in the communities where environmental projects take place. One example is Mary Alwanyi, a small-scale miner and community activist in western Kenya. Through the GEF-funded planetGOLD program, is working to improve her record-keeping so that she can access financing to afford mercury-free equipment for processing gold in her backyard, an activity employing primarily women.
We are also working to mainstream gender equality into work across thematic areas. The Global Access and Benefit Sharing Project's gender toolkit is helping ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are incorporated in Convention on Biological Diversity efforts around genetic resources management and traditional knowledge. Similarly, in national projects such as a capacity-building initiative in Uganda, we are working with countries to ensure that gender is considered across their efforts to meet their Rio Convention commitments – related to biodiversity, climate change, toxic pollutants, and more.
Sharing knowledge and experience about women’s leadership in environmental initiative is also a critical part of advancing this agenda. The Amazon Sustainable Landscapes program has highlighted this through Women's Solutions for Amazon conservation and Sustainable Development, a series of infographics about efforts that have addressed gender gaps in the Amazon region, including fostering women’s access to decision-making spaces and institutions as they seek to protect and care for the environment.
These and other efforts to support social inclusion will continue to grow as we work to support high-ambition goals for the global environment this decade. The 11 Integrated Programs in our current funding cycle known as GEF-8 include gender responsiveness as a cross-cutting element, with women beneficiaries at their core. This ethic and approach is also resonating across the GEF partnership, including governments, implementing agencies, the scientific community, civil society, and the private sector.
I could not be prouder that the GEF is a leader in prioritizing gender equality in the design and execution of environmental projects. These significant results will have long-term positive impacts in tandem with the global ecological benefits we are supporting. This is both a personal and institutional commitment, for the women and girls of the world today and for future generations.