I. Introduction II. The International Framework

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In the past three decades numerous international instruments have been generated to ensure gender equality and non-discrimination against women and to adopt measures related to sustainable development. This includes declarations, conventions, platforms, action plans, resolutions and agreements. They reflect the evolution of ideas and trends that guide the thinking and action of States, international organizations, academia and civil society (Aguilar et al., 2008).1

Over the past few decades, a rise in the number of disaster events has resulted in an increase in human and material losses, rising people’s vulnerability. This has led to increased emphasis on integration of poverty reduction programs with other sectoral issues such as environmental management, gender and public health, a shift from looking at disasters as extreme events created by natural forces, to viewing them as manifestations of unresolved development problems.

Approaches analyzing natural disasters and their impact on the human population have experimented evolution, from relief and response programmes and projects to vulnerability analysis to disaster risk reduction and risk management programmes and projects. This has resulted in implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction & Emergency Preparedness and Climate Change (DRR&EP CCH) programs and projects in several countries affected by natural disasters and have established linkages between people’s poverty and vulnerability. Disasters are no longer seen as extreme events created entirely by natural forces but as manifestations of unresolved development problems. In DRR&EP situations a “paradigm shift” in practice evolved largely from a top-down relief and response approach to a more inter-sectoral approach addressing the issues of risk reduction for the poor and taking into account the social and economic implications and causes of these events. This also resulted in a gradual change to an emphasis on preparedness measures, such as stockpiling of relief goods, preparedness plans and a growing role for relief agencies.
The aim of this literature review is to provide information on policies plans, guidelines and programming at international and national levels in order to identify lessons learned and best practices. The review is conducted at global level, taking into consideration experiences of other countries and regions. The final aim is that the findings should be related to the gender approach in place in DRR&EP and Climate Change in Mozambique and the specific context of the country.
The negative impacts of climate change and disaster on women and men have already been recognized. Most important is the fact that women and men experience the negative impacts of climate change differently. Gender inequalities have negative effects on women’s coping capacity but they are important actors of change as among others, they are holders of significant knowledge and skills related to mitigation, adaptation, and reduction of risks in the face of climate change.
Several international events have referred to the impact of climate change and disaster. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change referred to its impacts in the poorest regions, highlighting that the poorest people, especially women, will have to struggle with the impacts of increasing droughts, floods or storms. This requires that men and women understand the process of climate change, disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness and share information on counteracting their negative impacts.

Disaster Risk Reduction & EP and Climate Change; a common approach
Over the past few decades, the challenge of reducing socio-economic vulnerability to climate and weather-related hazards has been taken on by four distinct research and policy communities operated independently from each other, namely: (i) disaster risk reduction; (ii) climate change adaptation; (iii) environmental management; and (iv) poverty reduction. Many people and institutions involved in DRR & EP and CCH programmes and projects fail to distinguish

between “Climate change adaptation” and “Disaster risk reduction”. Based on literature, the key communalities and differences between the concepts of “Climate change adaptation” and “Disaster risk reduction” (detailed in annex 1) are as follows:

Climate change:

The Climate Change Agenda is based on the growing concern of the climate’s system changes and their impacts on human activities. This has led to the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 that since then has been assessing scientific, technical and socio-economic information and has been producing assessments based mainly on reviewed and published scientific/technical literature on climate change, its potential negative impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that receives the IPCC reports, entered into force in 1994 and now includes 189 countries, known as “Parties” to the Convention. The UNFCCC is an international treaty to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The Convention established an association of all the States that are Parties to the Convention, referred to as the “Conference of the Parties” (COP) that has been meeting every year, discussing among other issues, means to strengthen emission limitation targets and associated timetables. In this context, the Kyoto Protocol was agreed and went into effect in February 2005. Parties recognized the specific needs of the 48 Least Developed Countries and invited them to prepare National Adaptation Programmes of Action, designed to convey urgent and immediate adaptation needs – those for which further delays could increase vulnerability or lead to increased costs at a later stage2

Disaster Risk Reduction:

The disaster Risk Reduction Agenda addresses humanitarian actions to respond to disasters as well as how to better anticipate, reduce and manage disaster risk by integrating risk reduction measures into sustainable development planning and policies. Disaster risk reduction employs measures at all levels to curb disaster losses, through reducing exposure to different hazards, and enhancing coping and adaptive capacities of vulnerable populations. Effective disaster risk reduction practices take a systemic approach to reduce the human, social, economic and environmental vulnerability to natural hazards. Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation and recovery are crucial entry points for risk reduction, with the aim of building resilience to future hazards 3.

Many of the differences between the climate change and disaster management communities are related to differences in the perception of the nature and timescale of the threat. The climate change community has a strong environmentalist approach. It focuses on longer-term changes in climate and the potential consequences of climate change. Climate change adaptation has largely focused on how individual actors and sectors may be able to adapt to shifting environmental conditions (for example, change of crops).Disasters caused by extreme environmental conditions tend to be present a situation where the immediate impacts tend to overwhelm the capabilities of the affected population and rapid responses are required.
Climate change affects a wide range of ecological systems and creates complex interactions of social, economic and environmental factors. It also raises vulnerability as it affects the ability of individuals and communities to prepare for, cope with, and recover from, disasters.
Most impacts of climate change are much more difficult to perceive and measure, since the changes in average climatic conditions and climatic variability occur over a long period and because a wide range of simultaneous environmental and socio-economic processes ameliorates vulnerabilities.
The DRR &EP focuses on a vast assortment of natural and man-made hazards, of which climate-related hazards only represent one particular area. The concept of “vulnerability” is central to disaster risk reduction. Responses are always through structural measures, such as community shelters and building protection structures in disaster areas to control natural processes and protect human lives, property and critical infrastructure. DRR&EP emphasizes on developing capabilities for hazard forecasting and providing immediate humanitarian relief once a disaster has struck.
So far, many efforts by DRR &EP and CCH projects and programmes have concentrated on reducing the vulnerability of specific sectors to a particular hazard at local scale. The most vulnerable to natural hazards tend to be women, the elderly, children, ethnic and religious minorities, single-headed households, socially excluded and those with inadequate access to economic and to social networks. They are particularly vulnerable to changes in environmental conditions and factors that limit their access to natural resources determined as well by their poor access to social and financial resources, information and technology, as well as by the effectiveness of government and private institutions.
At the international level, gender issues and sustainable development have been referred to in numerous summits and conferences. The importance of mainstreaming gender equality for the realization of human rights, sustainable development and/or poverty eradication and disaster reduction has been recognized in a series of international instruments and a number of global sustainable development agreements have commitments on gender and women. These include:

  • The Agenda 21 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992);

  • The Beijing Platform for Action (4th World Conference on Women, 1995);

  • The 1997 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);

  • The Millennium Declaration (2000);

  • The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD);

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the UN Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD); and

  • The Hyogo Framework for Action (World Conference on Disaster Reduction, 2005).

Also the UN has developed a call for the mainstreaming of gender: resolutions from the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), Human rights instruments and environmental laws and policies of regional organizations such as the Organization of American States, the European Council, the United African Organization and national laws in individual states may also serve as “…means to call upon governments to fulfil their obligations in terms of gender equity” (Garcia, 1999). On Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan (2005) and the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), include the main mandate in relation to gender equality and the empowerment of women in the context of disaster risk reduction.


The International Framework

The International arena
Agenda 21 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992)

The agenda 21 was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Río de Janeiro in 1992. In its chapter 24 entitled “Global Action for Women towards Sustainable Development”, the document calls upon governments to make the necessary constitutional, legal, administrative, cultural, social and economic changes in order to eliminate all obstacles to women’s full involvement in sustainable development and in public life. It also calls for the adoption of clear strategies to be achieved through government policies, national guidelines and plans to ensure equity in all aspects of society including women`s involvement in decision making and environmental management.

Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 (WSSD)

On the basis of equality with men, this plan promotes women’s equal access to and full participation in decision making at all levels. Through the gender mainstreaming approach, the plan calls to include gender in all policies and strategies, eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, improve their status, health and economic welfare through full and equal women and girls access to economic opportunities, land, credit, education and health-care services.

Beijing Platform for Action (4th World Conference on Women, 1995) + 15 years

Two documents emanated from the IV World Conference on Women, namely (i) the Beijing Declaration and (ii) the Platform for Action, which established a strategy and responsibilities for State Parties. The Strategic “Objective K” of the Beijing Platform for Action commits to securing the active involvement of women in environmental decision making by integrating gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programs for sustainable development; and strengthening or establishing mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women. On sustainable development, the “Beijing +10”, (2005)made a specific reference to Member States, addressed to developing countries to provide the necessary importance on land tenure and property ownership for resource mobilization and environmental management, a recommendation that was again stressed in Beijing+15 (2010). A Fifteen-Year Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in Africa (BPfA) +15 – From 1995-2009 took place in Banjul, Gambia in November 2009 to undertake a specific examination of continent-wide progress within the time frame of 2005-2009. The regional review focused on the 12 thematic areas of concern and the 11th area of concern took the issue of “Women and the Environment” putting the accent on African women’s vulnerability to climate change as they “ lack adequate rights and access to resources and information vital to overcoming the challenges posed by climate change. Moreover they are frequently excluded from processes and decisions relating to the use and management of natural resources, including those impacting on climate change” (BPfA 2009) and stressed that limited attention has been given to the gender differences that affect the gender aspects of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. The lack of trained staff members in most relevant ministries that should address gender issues was also taken as part of their concerns. Therefore the recommendation, among others refer to the need of measures to integrate a gender perspective in the design and implementation of sustainable resource management, establish strategies and mechanisms to involve women in design, development and implementation of policies and programs for natural resource management and environmental protection and conservation. The African Region Beijing +15 Declaration(2009) committed to focus their actions on several strategic areas among them on climate change and food security by developing “gender-responsive policies on climate change which focus on agriculture, water resource management, energy, forest use and management, as well as transportation and technology transfer for improved food security”, including the development of agricultural policies and programs that address the differentiated impacts of climate change. Also suggestions were made to collect statistics disaggregated by sex- and gender- data analysis in scientific research on climate change and knowledge-sharing at all levels.
The Millennium Declaration4 and the Millennium Declaration Goals (2000)

The Millennium Declaration commits governments to respect the equal rights of all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are an agreed set of goals that promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality, and aim to combat child mortality, AIDS and other diseases, with 2015 as target date.

The “Rio Conventions”5

As a result of the “Rio Earth Summit” (1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), three international treaties were implemented: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention of the Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat desertification (UNCCD), known as the Rio Conventions and all three interrelated. Therefore a Joint Liaison Group (JLG) was established in 2001 with the aim to coordinate and work in partnership

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

This Convention is an international framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. In its Preamble the CBD recognises women’s role in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and calls for their participation at all levels of policy-making. CBD is the only environmental agreement mentioned in the Beijing Platform of Action6 highlighting the need for national legislation in providing protection, knowledge, best practices and innovation in traditional medicines, biodiversity and indigenous technologies taking into consideration the environment, intellectual property rights and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge. Since 2007, the CBD has adopted the gender mainstreaming approach in their regular activities and developed a Gender Plan of Action7.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

This convention is one of the few international instruments that establishes a link between the environmental situation, gender equality and social participation, and establishes that women’s and men’s participation is essential to combat desertification and to implement dryland development activities. These activities require special support for awareness rising, in training and capacity building and education. UNCCD links to local development and the eradication of poverty has an important commitment to equality among men and women and at an early stage they were adopted in many of the related activities carried out by the UNCCD in the local, national, regional and global sphere. Financial and technical support for programs directed specifically at women was provided and UNCCD efforts were characterized by its support to strengthen the role of women in all areas of its implementation.

Equality between men and women was also adopted by UNCCD governance, but still there are inequalities and some delegates to each Conference of the Parties (COP) continue requesting for their rectification, especially in the processes of preparing the National Action Programs. Very unfortunately during the COPs held to date, discussions, proposals and suggestions about the role of women and gender mainstreaming have played an insignificant part in the plenary discussions or Commission on Science and Technology and issues concerning gender and women’s roles are scarcely mentioned. This has been agreed by all participants of the CDO, specially the women groups as well as some participants countries.
The Hyogo Framework for Action. HFA, 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Kobe, Japan 2005).
The evolution of disaster management thinking and practice since the 1970s has seen a progressively wider and deeper understanding, accompanied by more integrated and holistic approaches to reducing their impacts on society. Disaster management – disaster risk reduction is a relatively new concept in formal terms, and is now being widely embraced by international agencies, governments, disaster planners and civil society organizations.
DRR is generally perceived as the implementation of policy initiatives, strategies and practices to minimize vulnerability and disaster risks within the society. In recent years a more comprehensive approach called “Risk Management” has emerged. The term ‘Disaster Risk Management’ (DRM) is often used in the same context to mean a systematic approach to identify, assess and reduce risks of all kinds associated with hazards and human activities. It is more properly applied to the operational aspects of DRR: the practical implementation of DRR initiatives.”(UNISDR 2004).
The 2005 UN’s World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe –Japan, began the process of putting in the agenda of international agencies and national governments clear targets and commitments for DRR. The first step in this process was the formal approval at the WCDR, of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015). This is the first internationally accepted framework for DRR. It sets out an ordered sequence of objectives (outcome – strategic goals – priorities), with five priorities for action attempting to ‘capture’ the main areas of DRR intervention.
The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 has been adopted by 168 states, and lays out a detailed set of priorities to be achieved by 2015 on reduction of disaster losses(of lives and social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries).

The HFA identifies the following 5 key priorities for action as a guide for states, international and regional organizations, and other stakeholders:

  • Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation.

  • Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning.

  • Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.

  • Reduce the underlying risk factors.

  • Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels

The Framework agreed to include a mandate in relation to gender equality and empowerment of women in the context of disaster risk reduction. The Framework states that a gender perspective should be integrated into all DRR policies, plans and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and education and training.

Moreover, the Platform on Gender Equality and Disaster Risk Reduction agreed by all nations represented at the World Conference, approved to implement using a gender mainstreaming approach, the five priorities of the Hyogo Framework (disaster management initiatives; capacity building in women’s groups and community-based organizations; in communications, training and education; providing opportunities to women in science and technology; and gender mainstreaming in program implementation, monitoring and evaluation).
To implement this approach a multi-stakeholder and inclusive United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) system is being strengthened and 131 countries have designated HFA focal points including the establishment of multi-stakeholder national platforms in 50 countries. Nevertheless, gender perspectives need to have a much stronger presence as agreed by the CSOs – Civil Society Organizations, especially women organizations.
The HFA has legally a non-binding character, leaving to governments the decision to set technical and organizational requirements to reduce disaster risks, including implementing details according to their needs and capacities. However it emphasizes that disaster risk reduction is a central issue for development policies, as well as issues related to the humanitarian and environmental ground.
Among the 2005-2015 priorities for action, the HFA underlines the development of a timely and understandable people centred early warning system that provides guidance and takes into consideration the demographic, gender, cultural and livelihood characteristics of the target population. A holistic approach to education and training in disaster risk reduction must include socio-cultural and gender issues. “Words into Action” (2007), the guideline to implement the HFA, supports that gender perspective must be included in all phases of disaster cycles. In this guideline gender is a central issue and therefore differences between women and men, on risks from disasters must be acknowledged. Gender influences individual’s capacities and resources to minimize harm, adapt to hazards and respond to disasters.8“Low-income women and those who are marginalized due to marital status, physical inability, age, social stigma or caste are especially disadvantaged. At the grassroots level, on the other hand, women are often well positioned to manage risk due to their roles as both users and managers of environmental resources, as economic providers, and as caregivers and community workers. For these reasons it is necessary to identify and use gender-differentiated information, to ensure that risk reduction strategies are correctly targeted at the most vulnerable groups and are effectively implemented through the roles of both women and men”.9

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