The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was the first multilateral environmental agreement to have a plan in place to promote gender equality, with the development of its Gender Plan of Action in 2008. Activities under the Plan have included the development of guidelines for mainstreaming gender into national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and playing an important role in harmonizing efforts among the Rio Conventions to integrate gender considerations.
The CBD has recently updated its Plan to align with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 is premised on the understanding that biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services essential for well-being. As the basis for food security, human health, the provision of clean air and water, and a necessary component of local livelihoods, economic development and poverty alleviation, so too is biodiversity an integral element of the achievement of gender equality. Aichi Biodiversity Target number 14 proposes that ‘By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.’ Gender is also an important consideration across the 20 Aichi targets.
The 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action proposes actions to be undertaken by Parties as well as by the Secretariat, in pursuit of four strategic objectives:
i) To mainstream a gender perspective into the implementation of the Convention and associated work of Parties and the Secretariat;
ii) To promote gender equality in achieving the Convention’s objectives, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets;
iii) To demonstrate the benefits of gender mainstreaming relative to the Convention’s objectives; and
iv) To increase the effectiveness of the work under the Convention.
While gender equality is widely recognized as an important prerequisite for biodiversity and sustainable development, there remain real challenges to build awareness and capacity to mainstream gender in biodiversity conservation and management. The CBD’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 (2014) reported movement away from achievement of Aichi Biodiversity Target 14, indicating that the integration of the needs of women, indigenous and local communities and the poor and vulnerable in ecosystem management is decreasing, rather than improving. A recent survey by the CBD of Parties and organisations on the development of indicators to monitor gender mainstreaming found the lack of available data to be a key challenge, in addition to a lack of capacity among relevant staff, limited financial resources as well as cultural challenges in engaging women.
In the coming months the CBD Secretariat will be mobilizing to put the 2015-2020 Gender Plan into practice – building connections with partners such as the GGCA, developing in-house capacity, compiling relevant case studies, and preparing to engage on capacity building support with developing country partners, among other activities.
Please feel free to connect with the Secretariat and share your experience and studies. You can find the 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action at: https://www.cbd.int/gender/action-plan/default.shtml
The CBD will be updating its website with more information on gender and biodiversity in the coming months, so you are encouraged to stay tuned, and get in touch.