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Gender equality through action for climate change: A New perspective

Equality through climate change action

Promoting gender equality while addressing climate change adaptation is not only a political and moral imperative but also an effective and efficient approach. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has been actively involved in applied research for development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, incorporating pro-poor, market-based, and nature-inspired interventions. These efforts align with the three principles outlined in the Water Action Agenda resulting from the 2023 UN Water Conference: commitment to action, sustaining and scaling up implementation, and follow-up and review processes.

The Latest Initiative

One of IWMI’s recent projects, ReWater MENA, focused on improving women’s access to resources, particularly clean water, to enhance drought resilience and prevent land degradation. The project aimed to overcome the barriers to water reuse and promote safe practices that improve water and food security, food safety, human and soil health, and livelihoods. IWMI achieved this through various activities, including analyzing the challenges faced by female farmers in accessing water and agricultural resources, identifying successful reuse technologies and governance models in the MENA region, developing training materials, and providing capacity building at different levels. Furthermore, IWMI developed investment-ready water reuse project proposals in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon that incorporated gender equity components and demonstrated positive benefit-cost ratios.

ReWater MENA exemplified a strong commitment to action and focused on creating an enabling environment for implementing and upscaling gender-equitable projects aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 6 and other relevant goals.

The Common Goal

Building on the momentum and lessons learned from ReWater MENA, IWMI, in collaboration with CGIAR and various international and regional partners, is now actively implementing and upscaling climate change adaptation through regional initiatives like the Fragility to Resilience Regional Integrated Initiative in Central and West Asia and North Africa (F2R-CWANA) and Al Murunah in MENA.

Although these initiatives differ in scale and focus, they share common elements such as participatory design, the use of market mechanisms, supporting drought resilience and land restoration, and integrating gender equality outcomes. F2R-CWANA addresses regional gender disparities while responding to climate, nutrition, and agrifood challenges by implementing resilience-focused solutions to reduce fragility and conflict. Al Murunah aims to improve water security and land management by piloting resilient nature-based water solutions (RNBWS) and supporting their upscaling.

Both initiatives prioritize participatory processes, acknowledging the importance of partnerships with stakeholders and beneficiaries to effectively address the unique challenges and opportunities in their respective regions. Female participation and empowerment are emphasized to address gender-specific barriers and achieve desired gender outcomes. Market value chains are utilized to support upscaling, whether through seed propagation and distribution systems, digital tools, or local market system development. Connecting rural communities, particularly female-led cooperatives and community-based organizations, to resources, knowledge, and networks will enable them to adopt innovative and sustainable farming and water management practices.

A just transition for climate change adaptation necessitates addressing interconnected challenges such as land degradation, water and food security, gender inequality, and equitable development. IWMI’s approach, which supports women in leveraging nature-based solutions with market systems, promotes sustainable land management, enhances resilience, and improves livelihoods for the poor. Ultimately, this approach contributes to gender equality, poverty reduction, and a just transition by fostering an inclusive, sustainable, and thriving agriculture sector and resilient food systems.

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