International climate justice, conflict and gender: scoping study

Scottish Government funded research report with ClimateXChange which concluded in 2022. It identifies areas of opportunity for policy makers to develop a gender responsive approach to international climate justice.

4 Scottish Government policies and programmes

The Scottish Government Act (1998) states that "international relations, including relations with territories outside the United Kingdom, the European Union (and their institutions) and other international organisations, regulation of international trade, and international development assistance and cooperation are reserved matters."[57] Nevertheless, the Scottish Government has developed an increasingly ambitious role itself in the international arena, reflecting how a strict distinction between the domestic and external is largely artificial. This section analyses the extent to which the Scottish Government's policies and programmes on international development, climate change, and peace and security respond to the gender/climate/conflict nexus, applying the three-level framework described in section 3.

A list of the Scottish Government policy and programmes analysed in this section can be found in Annex 1, and a more detailed account of the Scottish Government's work within international development and international climate justice found in Annex 2.

The Scottish Government's programming and policies on the nexus between climate, gender and conflict to date are limited. Despite sitting within a common framework – the International Development Strategy, which promotes the notion of The Scottish Government as a good global citizen – the three policy areas do not always reference each other. The Climate Justice Policy lacks reference to how armed conflict and insecurity more generally reduce people's and communities' capacity to adapt to climate change and consequently heighten vulnerability. Whilst both the International Development Fund (IDF) and the CJF finance projects in Scotland's partner countries Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and Pakistan, there is little evidence of coordination or cross-programme learning. A key exception is the Beyond Borders "UNSCR 1325 Climate Change Fellowship" which brings the three issues together.[58] The Scottish Government pledged GBP 300,000 towards this programme in November 2021.

4.1 Level 1: Recognise and lessen the gendered impacts of climate change and conflict.

The Beyond Borders "UNSCR 1325 Climate Change Fellowship" recognises the disproportionate impacts of climate change and conflict, especially when they interact, on women and girls. In the Scottish Government's policy and programming on each of the issues individually - climate change, peace and security, and international development - there is also clear acknowledgement of the need to address gendered impacts. The 2019 review of the Humanitarian Emergency Fund illustrates awareness of how crisis often exacerbates inequalities and therefore disproportionately affects women and girls.[59] Similarly, the 2021 Review of Scottish Government's International Development Programme in light of Covid-19 (Review of the IDP) directs a stronger focus on gendered aspects of development challenges and commits to prioritising 'women and girls, their advancement and equality,'[60] with a new Equalities Funding Stream to promote equality for women and girls within sub-Saharan Africa. The Climate Justice Policy directs that projects funded by the CJF should recognise 'the disproportionate effect the impact of climate change can have on the poor, women and children in developing countries.[61] The 2021 Review of the IDP also marks a significant step forward in the Scottish Government's efforts to take an intersectional approach to its international development work and within that its work on climate change.

Whilst there is recognition of the gendered impacts of climate change and conflict in the Scottish Government's policies and programmes, actual efforts to address these impacts appear quite limited. There do not appear to be specific criteria for the international climate justice programmes to target women or girls, nor a gender mainstreaming mechanism to the CJF. Information from the Scottish Government also suggests there is no specific gender component or mainstreaming mechanism to the Humanitarian Emergency Fund or the IDF.[62]

4.2 Level 2: Increase participation, empowerment and leadership of women

The Beyond Borders' Climate Change Fellowship, the one extant initiative at the nexus, shows a strong emphasis on participation. It was announced with the aspiration to "support women to play a full role in work to mitigate climate impacts, disaster risks and loss and damage that are inextricably linked to both conflict and the climate emergency."[63]

In climate policy more broadly, women's participation, empowerment and leadership is clearly a priority concern for the Scottish Government. On International Women's Day 2021, The Scottish Government launched a new partnership with WEDO, which works for gender equality in climate action, including through a Women Delegates Fund. The WEDO programme highlights the key role of women in tackling climate change and contributing to sustainable and successful solutions.[64] The fund supported women from Least Developed Countries to attend COP26 as a part of their national delegation.[65]

During COP26, The Scottish Government issued a Glasgow Women's Leadership Statement on Gender Equality and Climate Changejointly with UN Women, which not only acknowledges the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and girls, but celebrates the role of women leaders at all levels in addressing the climate crisis, and commits signatories to increased support for women and girls' climate action.[66] It notes factors such as age, disability, and poverty intersect with gender in influencing opportunities to partake in decision making, demonstrating a commitment to an intersectional approach.[67]

The Scottish Government's overall emphasis on women's participation in their climate policies is also evident in the Scottish Government's indicative Nationally Determined Contribution (iNDC). Here, the Scottish Government highlights how its work on tackling climate change, through centring on the concept of climate justice, supports women to 'attend and engage in the UN Climate summits'.[68] Further, it describes the CJF, which spearheads the Scottish Government's international climate change work by aiming to 'help tackle the effects of climate change in the poorest, most vulnerable countries',[69] as working to 'increase women's meaningful participation'.[70]

There is also an emphasis on participation in the Scottish Government's wider international development policy and programmes. The 2021 Review of the IDP emphasises participation, stating that a focus on women and girls through the new Equalities Funding Stream is crucial 'because societies need the views and contribution of those who currently live on the periphery, including women'.[71] Finally, the Scottish Government's commitment to a feminist approach to foreign policy echoes this commitment to support women's participation and leadership.[72]

The above shows that the Scottish Government has a solid track record of championing women's participation within climate change and peace and conflict work. However, whilst the new Beyond Borders programme shows an understanding of the need to increase women's participation in attempts to address the nexus between climate change, conflict and gender, it remains unclear how the impact of the Beyond Borders Fellowships is evaluated, in terms of whether the training provided helps to enable meaningful influence. It is also worth reiterating that whilst the Scottish Government's iNDC describes the CJF as aiming to 'increase meaningful participation' by women,[73] there does not appear to be specific criteria for the international climate justice programmes to target women or girls, nor a gender mainstreaming mechanism to the CJF. Additionally, few of the Scottish Government's initiatives that focus on increasing women's participation, with the possible exception of the WEDO programme, detail how they contribute to shifting power and resources to women to enable their equal leadership.

4.3 Level 3: structural transformation of the economic system

The Beyond Borders Climate Change Fellowship, whilst directly addressing the triple nexus of climate change, gender and conflict, does not seem to engage with the need to transform the economic system driving climate change, conflict and gender inequality.

The Scottish Government's separate international development, climate, and peace and security policies also neglect efforts to tackle the root causes of climate change, insecurity and gender inequalities. The contribution to loss and damage represents important recognition for the need to repair harm done by historical emissions, but beyond transfer of resources there has been little engagement with the transformation of economic systems. [74] There is little reference to the need to reform the global financial and trade systems or challenge the extractivist economic model that drive climate change while systematically disadvantaging the most marginalised in the global south, the same people who are hit first and worst by climate change.[75] However, the Scottish Government is developing a feminist approach to foreign policy and it may be that it incorporates attention to the economic transformation required for global gender justice and equality.

Interestingly, Scottish domestic policies reflect a focus on the need to change fundamental economic structures to increase human security and wellbeing through a commitment to a wellbeing economy. The 2021 Programme for Government presents 'building a wellbeing economy' as a key priority for the Scottish Government.[76] Building towards a wellbeing economy is also set out as a key mechanism to ensure economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery,[77] the Economic Recovery Implementation Plan,[79] which sets out the Scottish Government's wellbeing economy vision in some detail, and the Covid Recovery Strategy.[79] Additionally, the Scottish Government is a founding member of the Wellbeing Economy Government group. The Scottish Government's Economic Strategy is aimed at creating an economy that 'improves the opportunities, life chances and wellbeing of every citizen'.[80] Furthermore, the Scottish Government has put 'just transition' at the centre of its programme for government, committing to ensure that a new green economy is fair for all people, communities and industries and generates collective benefits.[81]

This commitment to a wellbeing economy and the emphasis on justice within the Scottish domestic transition away from the use of fossil fuels presents a building block for bringing these commitments also into the Scottish Government's international work. The aspirations of justice which are embodied in these domestic policies are crucial also to international climate justice. Moreover, a shift towards a wellbeing economy would be a crucial step towards transforming the extractive economy driving climate change, conflict and gender inequality.

The impacts of the economic system on international development policies and efforts are also, to a certain extent, recognised through the Scottish Government's 'Beyond Aid' agenda. The Beyond Aid agenda encompasses a commitment to take a holistic approach to sustainable development and to share expertise.[82] Demonstrating the Beyond Aid agenda, The Scottish Government's trading strategy sets out contributing to Scotland's National Performance Framework's 'international' indicator as a key goal, and outlines the expectation that Scottish businesses will contribute to 'ethical business practices'.[83] Wellbeing is also a key guiding principle for the Scottish Government's trade policy.[84] Moreover, the interconnectedness between domestic and international policies is explicitly recognised in their 'holistic "do no harm" approach' to international development set forward to the IDS.[85] This approach recognises how the Scottish Government's choices have consequences for people locally, domestically and internationally, and underscores the Scottish Government's goal of coherence between domestic and external policies.[86]

That said, the transition to a well-being economy remains at the aspirational stage. And, as the Climate Change Committee points out; Action is required across a range of sectors if Scotland is to stop contributing to the climate crisis through continued emissions.[87] To advance international climate justice, and to tackle the interconnected challenges of climate change, insecurity and gender inequalities, every effort must be made to ensure that domestic policies also tackle the extractivist capitalist model driving them.



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