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Women and REDD+

We know that forests will play a big role in slowing and reversing climate change, just as their demise has made climate change worse.

We also know that many countries across the global south are stepping up their efforts to reduce deforestation and to focus on reforestation, along with many other forest management activities (such as fire prevention) that combine to preserve and regenerate forest cover. International mechanisms, such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), are working with countries to set up national programs for emission reductions through reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and payments for ecosystem services (PES).

The countries receive payments for improving national carbon scenarios, achieved through local embrace of REDD+ and PES (and other measures). Both of these approaches require that communities and households change the way they use their land and adapt their livelihood practices in ways that preserve or regenerate the forest cover. Changes to agricultural practices that have depended upon ongoing deforestation are one example. Embracing new forestry practices linked to timber harvesting and to non timber forest products are other examples.

Effective incentives are created at the local level when communities and households receive some of the FCPF and GCF payments as local benefits. This funding or linked non-monetary support from the state helps local land and forest users, including Indigenous People, as they change their behavior linked to forests. For example, if household agricultural practices change in ways that help to preserve forest cover, new farming, harvesting, storage, consumption, and produce marketing pathways are needed. Benefits distributed to them from state emissions reduction programs are one pathway to making the change possible, sustainable, and equitable.

Over the past 16 months, Resource Equity, at the request of the World Bank, has been evaluating gender equity in FCPF country REDD+ programming. We started by looking at gender-related constraints and opportunities in legal, policy, and customary land- and resource- related environments in seventeen FCPF countries. For each country, we examined the tenure-related land and resource governance frameworks and customary regimes, along with the institutional landscapes, that affect women’s land and forest tenure, and their ability to exercise their rights. We looked at whether and how these rights impact women’s ability to benefit from FCPF carbon fund programs, and what specifically is needed to protect and strengthen women’s agency. Then we undertook seven country “deep dive” studies to gather more information and to ratify and expand our initial findings.

Outputs included recommendations on specific changes to legislation and policies to protect and strengthen women’s rights and participation in program design and benefits, and suggestions for tools, training materials, and concrete interventions to address constraints and challenges women face. Finally, we drafted a synthesis report to better characterize common threads, challenges/opportunities, and approaches to strengthening women’s land and forest tenure.

We found that women generally lack strong land and resource rights and infrequently have a voice in the use of land and forest assets, making it less likely that they will benefit from REDD+ and PES programming. Sometimes, women may even be harmed. Extra effort is required for programming to be gender-inclusive and for forests to benefit from women and men’s traditional knowledge.

We’ll be making more of our information and outputs available in the coming weeks and months.

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