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4/17. Promoting gender equality and the human rights and empowerment of women and girls in environmental governance

The United Nations Environment Assembly,

Reaffirming the principles of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW 1979), and the Conclusions of the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 2016), that contribute to the international legal and political framework for realising gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls and the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all women and girls,

Affirming the importance of states respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights obligations, including women’s rights, when implementing environmental laws and policies, including in the context of strengthening international, regional, and national policy making in the area of climate change and environmental issues, as well as in promoting policy coherence, legitimacy and sustainable outcomes,

Noting that HRC Resolution 37/8 stated “more than 100 States have recognized some form of a right to a healthy environment in, inter alia, international agreements, their constitutions, legislation or policies,” 

Acknowledging that the States Parties to all three Rio Conventions – the Convention on Biological Diversity,2 the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,3 and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification4 - as well as the Ramsar Convention5 have recognized the importance of addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment in their implementation, consequently developing individual gender action plans to support Parties in their actions,

Also acknowledging that major environmental funds, including the Global Environment Facility, Climate Investment Fund, Green Climate Fund and Adaptation Fund, have approved gender policies or frameworks,

Recognizing that, conversely, the impacts of climate change, pollution, the unsustainable management and use of natural resources, the unsound management of chemicals and waste, the resulting loss of biodiversity and the decline in services provided by ecosystems may interfere with the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and that environmental damage can have negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of all human rights” especially for “those segments of the population that are already in vulnerable situations” including women and girls,

Considering that women and girls, are often disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and other environmental issues, including, inter alia, deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, desertification, pollution and natural disasters owing to existing gender inequalities, and recognizing also the active and meaningful role of women as key agents of change in developing innovative solutions to climate change, and promoting sustainable and inclusive consumption and production,

Recognizing that the role of women as agents of change could receive more emphasis as advocated in the UN Environment Programme’s Global Gender Environment Outlook (GGEO) which is supported by the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, highlighting essential gender-and-environment approaches and pursuing a transformative agenda recognizing gender equality as a driver of change, leading to more people-smart environmental policies,

Acknowledging that identifying and addressing both women’s and men’s needs, as well as promoting women as decision makers, are critical to ensuring the sustainability of environmental policy, planning and programming,

Taking note of General Assembly resolution 72/247

Noting the role of the For All Coalition, an alliance of Member States, in collectively and simultaneously advancing human rights, gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment across the various multilateral environmental agreements,

Underlining the importance that the United Nations Environment Program, within its organizational mandate works towards the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in its planning instruments, investment frameworks and sector-wide programs, in particular by revising and updating its Policy and Strategy on Gender Equality and the Environment 2014-2017, to articulate its commitment to the achievement of meaningful gender equality results in its internal operations and in all its programming in line with the 2030 Agenda and its gender-specific SDG targets,

Acknowledging that women’s knowledge, and collective action have a huge potential to improve resource productivity, enhance ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, and to create more sustainable, low-carbon food, energy, water and health systems,

1. Invites Member States to:

(a) Provide the United Nations Environment Assembly, in accordance with their capabilities, with information on their progress at the local and national levels in mainstreaming gender in environmental policies and programmes, highlighting challenges and opportunities, to inform the revision of the Policy and Strategy on Gender Equality and the Environment 2014–2017;;

(b) Consider joining the For All Coalition in order to strengthen and raise the visibility of gender equality and human rights messages and garner broader support for gender-responsive and human rights commitments and action across the various multilateral environmental agreements;;

(c) Prioritize the implementation of gender policies and action plans developed under the multilateral environmental agreements to which they are a party;

(d) Establish social and gender criteria in project implementation and financing mechanisms for environment-related projects and programmes at the national level;

(e) Continue and enhance international cooperation and assistance, in particular in financing, voluntary transfer of technology on mutually agreed terms and capacity-building; promote gender-responsive, non-discriminatory environmental policies and measures for all women and girls; and help to ensure women’s enjoyment of their rights and their access to food and nutrition, safe drinking water and sanitation, health-care services, education and training, adequate housing and decent work, clean energy, and science and technology;

(f) Strengthen and implement policies aimed at increasing the participation and leadership of women in environmental decision-making and measures at the local, national, regional and international levels and request, when appropriate, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and other United Nations agencies to support, upon request, national programmes and projects in that regard;;

(g) Recognize the importance of gender equality, the empowerment of women and the role that women play as managers of natural resources and agents of change in safeguarding the environment;;

(h) Support training and capacity-building efforts for women and men with regard to mainstreaming gender and enhancing the active and meaningful participation of all women in global processes, as a contribution to achieving the goal of gender balance;;

2. Requests the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme to::

(a) Facilitate the collection of data, disaggregated by, inter alia, sex, age and disability, and of lessons learned from Member States and other stakeholders, including through consultations and calls for submissions, on the progress made in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in local, national and global environmental policies, programmes and initiatives;

(b) Report to the Environment Assembly at its fifth session on the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Policy and Strategy on Gender Equality and the Environment 2014–2017, including in the Environment Programme’s planning instruments, investment frameworks and networks and sector-wide programmes, based on information gathered from Member States and other stakeholders, and taking into consideration the Policy’s synergies and interlinkages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the multilateral environmental agreements, gender action plans and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, 4 and on the way forward;

(c) Enhance collaboration with UN-Women, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and civil-society organizations, to mainstream perspectives on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls into developing innovative solutions to environmental challenges and accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption and production;

(d) Continue to support initiatives to encourage and support the participation of women delegates and their leadership in the Environment Assembly and in related intergovernmental meetings, including through awareness-raising, training and capacity-building efforts in cooperation with UN-Women, the United Nations Development Programme and other stakeholders, inter alia, in conjunction with sessions of the subsidiary bodies of relevant intergovernmental bodies and processes;

(e) Ensure that the United Nations Environment Programme’s Policy and Strategy on Gender Equality and the Environment and Gender Implementation Plan are incorporated into all Environment Programme programmes funded by the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility.