Governments all over the world are starting to integrate climate change and gender equality considerations into their development planning. Yet they tend to deal separately with these two strategic priorities, which means that the connection between climate action and gender is overlooked. This prevents them from identifying sustainable solutions. There is therefore an urgent need to establish a mechanism that creates relationships between climate change specialists and gender equality specialists working across ministries and institutions. Close collaboration between the ministry in charge of coordinating the NAP process and the ministry responsible for gender equality provides a point of entry to start breaking down the silos.
We had a conversation with Jean Douglas Anaman, NAP process coordinator at the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, to gain a better understanding of how Côte d’Ivoire has accelerated the collaboration between the two ministries, with the aim of improving its NAP process.
Since when have your ministries been working together on the gender-climate nexus, and why was it important for you to improve the collaboration between the two ministries at this stage of the NAP process?
The collaboration began in 2018, during the development of an analysis focusing on gender mainstreaming in Côte d’Ivoire’s NAP process. At first, it was a very timid collaboration, because the issues were still too vague. We didn’t know how to tackle the subject. The analysis note that was published shone a spotlight on the issues and suggested practical avenues to pursue. From that point on, the collaboration was able to gradually ramp up.
What have you implemented to improve the collaboration between the two ministries?
In October 2021, almost three years after our gender analysis informing the NAP process, the ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize a high-level political commitment to ensuring that the gender-climate nexus is systematically taken into account in the activities of the two ministries. This is the first MOU that has ever been signed between these ministries. I would say that there were four main steps that allowed us to reach this point, thanks to the support of our technical partners – particularly the NAP Global Network and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The first step was the 2018 gender analysis, which allowed us to take stock of the current state of knowledge about the gender-climate nexus. Then, as the second step, we implemented a National Gender and Climate Change Platform in 2020 so we could closely examine this evidence and discuss it on a regular basis with a greater number of national experts who specialize in gender equality and climate change issues. The third step was building the capacities of these national actors to better equip them to deal with the gender-climate nexus. Finally, in the fourth step, these experts gathered for a write shop to work together on developing an advocacy note. This advocacy note sought to very clearly present the issues facing the gender-climate nexus to make the ministers aware of the need for concrete, coordinated measures aimed at the gender-climate nexus, in particular through the signing of an MOU. This document was then presented to the cabinet directors of both ministers.
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How has the collaboration between the two ministries helped to take better account of gender issues in climate change action in Côte d’Ivoire?
The challenges of the gender-climate nexus are obvious, but for strong action that brings results, you need to work differently and jointly. Throughout the process, our discussions led us to conclude that if we were to succeed in building a joint action and ensuring that gender is systematically integrated into the full range of public policy, we would have to break down the silos and send a strong, high-level signal. The problem is that the two ministries have been working in isolation from each other. So to remove these barriers, it was important to draw up an MOU.
This MOU will direct the shared action of these two ministries toward three main areas of focus: 1) developing data and knowledge; 2) improving gender mainstreaming in climate and sectoral policy, as well as funding; and 3) monitoring and evaluation, along with improving governance.
On the national level, many initiatives are increasingly seeking to integrate climate change and gender issues. The signing of the MOU represents a political commitment that lets us have a say about how climate finance is to be mobilized. We think that this MOU is also a positive factor in helping us to attract international funding, because it meets international criteria.
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What have you learned about the best way for the two ministries to collaborate in order to improve the mainstreaming of gender issues into climate change action?
The MOU experience has been truly meaningful to me, because once an MOU is signed, you can’t just walk away from it. I would advise other countries to present their gender-climate nexus issues to the ministries very early, and on a regular basis, to be sure that at any given moment, the authorities will be able to make informed commitments. This is why the process takes time. It needs to be tested. You cannot expect two or three months to be enough to move from the idea of presenting an MOU to the act of actually signing it.
Many activities – consultations, negotiations, placing needs in context – were carried out before the MOU was signed so that we could be sure of its feasibility and sustainability. The difference with other MOUs is that through the process that was put in place, there came to be an internal, national-level ownership of the topic and of the MOU within the institutions. Now we have an interest in the subject and we discuss it at any time. And because this whole process was monitored by the ministers from start to finish, the high-level commitment is there at the end. Both of these ministries will submit progress reports to the government that refer back to the MOU. We are currently exploring options for disseminating this MOU more broadly on a national scale.
- Video | Why Gender Matters for Effective Adaptation to Climate Change
- Toolkit for a Gender-Responsive Process to Formulate and Implement National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)
- Infographics | Gender Mainstreaming in Climate Action in Côte d’Ivoire
- Infographic | Supporting Gender-Responsive National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes
- Blog | How Côte d’Ivoire Is Accelerating Gender Mainstreaming in Climate Change Action: Building the capacities of national actors
- Blog | How Côte d’Ivoire is Accelerating Gender Mainstreaming in Climate Change Action: Working with national gender advisors
- Report | A Gender-Responsive NAP Process in Côte d’Ivoire [Français]