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FEATURE: Mainstreaming gender and climate change into Ethiopian development

CDKN’s long partnership with the Government of Ethiopia has yielded rich learning on ways to integrate two completely cross-cutting aspects of development – gender and climate change – into government policy and its implementation. Robi Redda, Arsema Andargatchew and Lucia Scodanibbio report.

Mainstreaming gender and climate change is more likely to become institutionalised when activities are organised in a cross-sectoral manner and build on each other over time. In the past few years, the Government of Ethiopia has taken important steps in setting up and strengthening the institutions and governance arrangements for climate change and gender, including through the establishment of Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) units and gender directorates in different sectoral ministries.

However, despite their efforts to mainstream gender and climate change across all ministries’ work, these units have had challenges to do so in practice. CDKN’s support to gender mainstreaming in Ethiopia from 2019-2021 shed light on how strong stakeholder engagement and action, over time, can play a role in mainstreaming.

Scoping work can help to determine successes and challenges in mainstreaming climate and gender

Gender was emerging as a priority agenda for the Government of Ethiopia in 2018. To assist the government to improve the mainstreaming of this cross-cutting issue in climate change priority sectors, institutions and projects, CDKN brought one climate and one gender expert on board. Their task was to undertake an assessment of how gender is incorporated in the climate change sector in Ethiopia. The idea was to be very specific, and look at the integration of gender considerations into climate change planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and project execution activities. The CDKN team held numerous interviews and bilateral meetings with the different government institutions involved in gender and climate issues to get a clear sense of their long-term needs, challenges and successes.

Not only did this initial scoping work explore the current situation across the main federal government institutions, but it also provided a learning opportunity for the two consultants to appreciate each other’s complementary disciplinary expertise given that – as is often the case – climate experts know little about gender, and vice versa.

The key findings of their report indicated that despite the strong governance structures in place, little coordination and communication takes place within CRGE units and gender directorates in the Ministry of Finance and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission, which jointly head the CRGE Secretariat.

For example, while these institutions conducted diverse analyses on furthering gender issues (such as in the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), or in programme budgets), such assessments were not consulted or communicated widely across all those who have a stake in such issues. The absence of a joint platform to discuss the gender and climate nexus, as well as the limited capacities of how to incorporate such issues in all aspects, from planning to M&E, were recognised as the biggest challenges.

Ensuring key stakeholders have a joint platform to discuss the climate-gender nexus

These findings were brought to the attention of key stakeholders during a workshop that drew together federal government ministries and some non-government stakeholders. Participants included a number of departments within ministries that were mandated to play an active role in promoting climate or gender action in the country (for instance, the gender directorates referred to above). Despite their mandate, these units did not engage frequently and often tended to be isolated, operate in an ad hoc manner, and not be part of the core functions of their ministry, such as planning or decision-making. The workshop thus aimed to bring to a common table the multiple actors that have a stake in climate and gender issues, to lead to improved communication among them, and lay the basis for enhanced coordination.

In addition, the workshop also provided the platform for a presentation on the gender-responsive budgeting tool developed by Ministry of Finance, a gender analysis undertaken by the CRGE Facility and a gender forum created at the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission. By the end of the two-day workshop, two critical issues became obvious: the need to establish a formalised gender coordination platform to provide a meeting point for all discussions on the gender-climate nexus, including for strengthening capacities on these issues; and standard training material on gender and climate change.

“The workshop was an opportunity to take stock of what the climate change-focused Federal government institutions, including other departments of the Minister of Finance, are doing in mainstreaming gender in their work… and a lot is happening at present. It is important to regularly have these dialogues and to coordinate the gender mainstreaming work across these institutions  better.  I would like to recognise CDKN for organising and facilitating this important workshop and for undertaking the background scoping work that served as the basis for this,” said Medhin Fissha – Gender and Safeguards Specialist, CRGE Facility, Ministry of Finance.

Within 12 months, an interim working group was formalised as a government-endorsed Community of Practice on Gender and Climate Change. In parallel, CDKN in collaboration with the CRGE Facility developed a gender and climate change resource pack that focused on the Ethiopian context, which was tested during 2020 and 2021 by the stakeholder institutions.

After the Community of Practice was launched by the CRGE Facility in December 2020, its first meeting was held jointly by officials of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission and the Ministry of Finance in an event that was co-organised by CDKN, the Government of Ethiopia and the Global Green Growth Institute on April 26, 2021. The CRGE Facility now manages this coordination platform as a secretariat, while the gender directorates of the aforementioned ministries co-chair the platform.

Catalysing action and working toward sustainability

Many factors were at play in this mainstreaming process. At a broad level, there was interest among government circles to move from a ‘technical’ climate change policy (focused for instance on greenhouse gas reductions) to a more ‘social-centred’ policy and action – and to this end, gender was a critical aspect. International public climate funds (such as the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility, and others) and their access also require that due consideration is given to gender. For this and other reasons, work on the gender and climate change nexus was already ongoing, including in the context of Ethiopia’s National Adaptation Plan and its climate finance readiness programmes, among others. It was thus an opportune time.

The choice of a government partner to lead and coordinate this undertaking was also important. Instead of working with a more ‘obvious’ government partner, such as the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth, which would have no coordination mandate to bring together the main government actors working on climate change, the project’s main counterpart was the national climate fund – the CRGE Facility. CDKN had a longstanding relationship with the Facility, since 2014. Co-managed by the Ministry of Finance and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission, and with the mandate to both coordinate different actors working on climate change and attract and mobilise climate finance, they were the right entry point. Considering that gender is also a cross-cutting/cross-sectoral issue, the CRGE Facility became a natural home for this work due to its strong mandate to coordinate climate finance action in collaboration with different ministries and departments of government.

Finally, the CRGE Facility’s gender focal point person had been proactively engaging in best practices including gender-responsive budgeting for a number of years and therefore was a perfect ally in this work. The CRGE Facility’s commitment to the role has made it possiblethat this work may potentially continue beyond the lifespan of the project, through the establishment of the government-endorsed Community of Practice.

 

Image: Woman at waterpoint, Somali region of Ethiopia, courtesy UNICEF.

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