4th Forum - The Gender Dimensions of Climate Change

Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

© UNESCO/M Ravassard
Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

The fourth UNESCO Forum on Gender Equality, held on 19 June 2008, focused on the gender dimensions of climate change, and what UNESCO and the wider UN system are doing to address this important issue.

The Forum was moderated by Ms S. Gülser Corat (DIR/BSP/GE), Director of the Division for Gender Equality of the Bureau of Strategic Planning. Panellists included Mr Patricio Bernal (ADG/IOC), Assistant Director-General of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission; Mr Badaoui Rouhban (SC/BES/DRE), Chief of UNESCO’s Disaster Reduction and Renewable Energy Section; and Ms Yianna Lambrou, Senior Officer with the Gender, Equity, and Rural Employment Division of the FAO, and FAO representative to the Inter-Agency Gender and Water Task Force.  

Mr Bernal gave an incisive overview of the causes and foreseen effects of global climate change, and highlighted the importance of integrating a gender equality dimension from the start into action to address climate change. Mr Rouhban looked specifically at the issue of natural disasters, which can be expected to be both more frequent and more forceful with continued global warming. He underscored that because of a number of socio-cultural factors (lack of access to information, gendered division of labour, etc.), women and girls are more vulnerable to natural disasters and their aftermath. At the same time, he stressed that they are also in the best position to influence changes in behaviour for better disaster risk management.  

Finally, Ms Lambrou, an FAO specialist in gender, energy and climate change, discussed the intersections of climate change, food security, and gender. Climate change will exacerbate food insecurity in many countries, in particular for the world’s poor, and men and women will face different risks and have different opportunities for coping with climate change impacts on food security. Ms Lambrou stressed the importance of complementing current anecdotal evidence of the gender dimensions of climate change with concrete scientific research and gender analysis; she also noted the importance of taking local and indigenous knowledge into account, especially that of women.

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