Gender in the International Climate Initiative (IKI)

Climate change and biodiversity loss are affecting countries, societies and ecosystems worldwide. Among other things, the vulnerability of human populations to their impacts also depends on socio-economic, demographic and societal factors. In addition, these factors also influence the magnitude of emissions produced as well as the usage of and access to natural resources. In particular, gender is an especially important factor in this context. 

To address the points of interaction between climate change, biodiversity loss and gender, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) is working towards gender justice as a central factor: in the future, IKI projects will be designed in such a way that ensures the prevention of disadvantages and the reduction of gender based discrimination. The po-tential offered by all stakeholders will be utilised to help support climate action and to conserve biodiversity. 

Climate change, biodiversity loss and gender

Interactions between the negative impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss as well as gender roles and norms can be found in the following contexts in particular.

Contribution to climate change and biodiversity loss: The traditional gender-based division of labour has an impact on the use of natural resources, and therefore on climate and biodiversity (UNDP 2017). In some Pacific Island countries, for example, women mainly cultivate crops. Farm run-off affects fish stocks and thus impacts on fisheries, traditionally a male-dominated sector.

Degree of impact: Marginalised groups are more affected by the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. In most countries, women have a central role to play in subsistence farming (UNDP 2010). The experience gained by these female smallholders in the handling of seed or water scarcity helps to devise effective adaptation measures.

Access to decision-making: Gender-specific perspectives held by decision makers often lead to different kinds of policy or management measures being adopt-ed. While a diversity of approaches is needed to achieve progress in climate action and biodiversity conservation, women, non-binary and trans individuals often lack the access to decision-making processes that is needed to contribute their perspectives. 

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IKI Gender Strategy

Measures to integrate gender as a factor at project and programme level were initiated by the IKI in 2017. Since November 2021, the IKI Gender Strategy provides a high-level framework for supporting and fostering gender justice. This strategy aims to promote gender-transformative approaches within international climate and biodiversity co-operation while embedding gender-responsive processes as a minimum standard at project level.

This requires IKI projects to ensure the avoidance of gender-based disadvantages and discrimination. A targeted approach to accommodating context-specific gender relations will be used to improve activities in relation to climate action and biodiversity conservation. 

Graph: Authors’ own presentation, based on UN INSTRAW/UN Women, Glossary of Gender-related terms and concepts

By systematically integrating gender as a dimension within all work areas, processes and project management, the IKI will ensure compliance with national and international obligations. These include Agenda 2030 with its sustainable development goals as well as the gender action plans from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, Enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, Gender Plan of Action). The IKI also orients its activities on the Paris Agreement, which calls on the Parties to respect, promote and consider gender justice and the empowerment of women when taking action to address climate change.

Gender mainstreaming in the IKI

To contribute to gender justice, the IKI employs a comprehensive gender mainstreaming approach: to this end, specific activities and time frames are set out in the IKI Gender Action Plan, whose implementation is tracked by regular reporting.

Gender mainstreaming is a strategic approach that systematically works to address the various needs, circumstances and interests of all genders. The IKI is pursuing an intersectional approach, which accounts for various types of discrimination and their interactions in its analysis of gender relations.

Five action areas for implementation

What does ‘gender’ refer to?

A person’s gender describes the properties and opportu-nities ascribed to women, men, non-binary and trans in-dividuals, as well as defining the actual interpersonal rela-tionships that exist between the genders. 

The following five action areas for implementation are defined in the IKI Gender Strategy and structure the IKI Gen-der Action Plan: 

  1. Governance, scope and accountability: The successful implementation of the IKI Gender Strategy can be achieved only if this implementation is supported at all organisational levels within the IKI’s stakeholder institutions and if structures for implementation are available. 
  2. Criteria for implementing organisations and adaptation of processes: Gender mainstreaming requires the all-encompassing review and modification of all IKI-specific business processes in terms of their impact on gender justice.
  3. Gender competence (internal and external): Anchoring gender aspects at the heart of all IKI processes and activities requires all stakeholders to receive training in gender competencies. 
  4. Knowledge management and communication: To establish and disseminate learning effects, knowledge management and communication are needed, and must be embedded in existing processes. 
  5. Resources and budget: An adequate volume of human resources and funding must be provided for the measures outlined in the IKI Gender Action Plan.

Gender aspects in IKI projects