The Caribbean has shown great promise in mainstreaming gender in environmental and climate initiatives, according to a recent analysis of 8 countries in the region carried out by the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Support Program and the gender team of the UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDPLAC). Findings of this analysis provided a unique opportunity to launch a series of clinics to support the acceleration of gender inclusive climate action while simultaneously strengthening the capacity of regional governments to stimulate post COVID-19 recovery through inter-island collaboration. The clinics, organised by the UNDP Gender Team and NDC Support Program alongside the Enabling, Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) Project commenced with a high-level panel of officials who espoused their support for the timeliness of the initiative.

During the opening ceremony, the panelists focused on the global gender offer for climate action, the importance of integrating gender considerations in climate policies and processes and how the region has successfully promoted gender equality in various policy instruments, implementation strategies, and processes related to combatting the climate crisis. Ms. Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative for UNDP Barbados and Eastern Caribbean stated, “Climate change permeates everything, irrespective of our national, political and socio-economic standing. These efforts embodied in the Gender, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) & Climate Change Training Clinics are testament to acting decisively and quickly, rather than doubling down on the gender and climate change regulatory and policy mistakes of the past. These countries’ experiences which will be shared at the four clinics should not be one-time leadership stories, but they should sit at the heart of national planning, driving systemic change for sustainable development, as innovative, scalable and practical examples.”

Scheduled between July and August 2021, the four clinics, – funded by the Government of Canada and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) through the EnGenDER Project, – are designed for climate change technical experts and decision makers, as well as gender and climate change focal points across respective government agencies and coordinating bodies in Caribbean countries, to facilitate the sharing of good practices and lessons learned on mainstreaming gender. The clinics are therefore expected to improve the technical competencies of practitioners in the mainstreaming of gender across the various processes or sectors related to the climate change and environmental agenda, by providing practitioners with practical recommendations on how this can be achieved through the conduct of similar processes across different countries.

Remarking on the importance of this knowledge sharing initiative, Ms. Jennifer Heys, Acting Senior Director for Caribbean Regional Development Programme of Global Affairs Canada, applauded the anticipated training and noted, “Canada has recognized the unique vulnerabilities Caribbean countries face and places gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and in extension other vulnerable groups, at the heart of all its development efforts. There is an extremely important connection between gender and climate change adaptation. Canada is extremely proud to support this initiative and we hope these clinics provide a strong platform for Caribbean countries to exchange experiences and lessons learned in mainstreaming gender in an effort to further advance the climate change adaptation agenda for the region.”

H.E. Ms. Harriet Cross (UK) British High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago reinforced this position and highlighted the significance of inclusive dialogue in promoting enabling environments at the highest levels. She stated, “The UK as COP 26 President (designate) wants countries to take a participatory approach to developing and delivering their NDCs, adaptation plans and long-term strategies, ensuring that they are seeking the views, input and thoughts from young people, civil society organisations, Indigenous Peoples, and women.  The UK is also committed to delivering on the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan. This includes action we are taking on gender responsive finance, using international climate programming to build women and girls’ climate resilience, progressing social inclusion within adaptation, designing climate policies that enable gender equality, prioritising girls’ education, investing in research and gender disaggregated data and ensuring gender and inclusion is a key part of our Presidency-led events and operations planning.”

H.E. Diann Black-Layne, Ambassador for Climate Change, Antigua and Barbuda and Lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in her brief remarks, underscored the need for a broader approach to be undertaken in tackling the issues of inclusion and vulnerability in the face of climate change, especially within the Caribbean context, noting the value of “recognizing and addressing the concerns of men, if the efforts needed to facilitate change are to be most impactful.” Mr. Claudius Emmanuel, Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Economic Development in Saint Lucia added to this elucidating, “effective and inclusive engagement with stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, and academia, as well as youth, women, and marginalized and vulnerable groups, is important to ensure all facets of society accept NDCs. The whole of society approach needed for NDC updating and implementation is not lost in Saint Lucia’s efforts to increase its resilience against climate change.”

In recognizing the catalytic role these clinics will play in advancing the implementation of gender responsive climate policies and strategies, Ms. Anita Montoute, Permanent Secretary with responsibility for the Sustainable Development in Saint Lucia noted, “climate change represents one of the most challenging threats to inclusive and sustainable development in Saint Lucia. It is a stress multiplier, and its detrimental effects can be felt in the short-term through frequent recurring weather shocks, such as intermittent rainfall, floods and cyclones; and in the long-term, through more gradual degradation of the environment. To this end the Department of Sustainable Development, along with other Departments and Ministries in the Government of Saint Lucia shares the same commitment with UNDP in the continued focus towards ensuring gender equality and inclusiveness across all spheres.” Supporting these remarks Ms. Michelle Charles, Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Gender Relations in Saint Lucia stated, “I have no doubt that the delivery of these clinics over the next four weeks will foster greater south-south cooperation. More importantly I know that the clinics will help participating countries learn from sister nations’ experiences and will also identify ways to overcome some challenges, as relates to the design and implementation of gender-responsive climate policies, strategies, and actions.”

Through this series of clinics eleven (11) Caribbean countries will have a platform to share successes and lessons learnt in their efforts to ensure that environmental and climate policies include the most vulnerable groups of the population and leave no one behind. They will offer detailed exchanges of experiences on the design, integration, and implementation of gender responsive actions in the climate agenda and obtain practical recommendations to carry out similar processes throughout the region – accelerating inclusive climate action.