IUCN event | 10 Nov, 2022

Nature-based Solutions for Climate Adaptation in Mountains: Promoting women leadership for agricultural landscapes

In October 2022, IUCN held a side event at COP27, discussing the impacts of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in mountainous communities around the world. The event presented the impacts of EbA in promoting climate change adaptation and community resilience in mountains, highlighting and emphasising the role of women. It also features the learned experiences and knowledge from local project leaders, Indigenous communities and global policy experts in a panel discussion.

content hero image

Photo: © IUCN

IUCN’s event at the Korean Pavilion made the case of how Nature-based Solutions (NbS) underpins climate resilience in mountain ecosystems, while emphasizing the critical role women leadership plays in building climate adaptation and natural resource management strategies. It presented success stories from five different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and heard from the local leaders, Indigenous communities and global policy experts showcasing the significance of NbS in the Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. The event highlighted the gender disparities prevalent in mountain communities, showcased the benefits of addressing these disparities and building women leadership in mountain communities and shared experiences working with women in local communities to promote water, food and resource security. 

The event hosted the following panelists:

  • Ms. Hyoeun Jenny KIM, Ambassador & Deputy Minister for Climate Change Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea 
  • Dr. Pasang Dolma Sherpa, Executive Director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples’s Research and Development (CIPRED) Nepal and Chair of Specialist Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Customary and Environmental Laws and Human Rights (SPICEH) within CEESP-IUCN
  • Nema Michael, Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), Tanzania
  • Mirella Gallardo, Co-Director of Association Mountain Institute, Peru
  • Sonam Tobgay, Chief Forestry Officer, Forest Resources Management Division, Department of Forest & Park Services Ministry of Agriculture & Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan
  • Mana Omar, Youth Representative for the Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition under Generation Equality Forum, Kenya
  • Dr German Velasquez, Director (Mitigation and Adaptation), Green Climate Fund
  • Ali Raza Rizvi, Climate Change Team Head, and Adriana Vidal, Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Change from the International Union for Conservation of Nature moderated and presented the Scaling Up Mountain EbA project,  respectively
featured image

One of the central focuses of the panel discussion was how to ensure meaningful, equitable participation and engagement from women in climate change adaptation through NbS. Climate change’s unpredictability is a tangible challenge for any kind of adaptation initiative; therefore, an integrated approach, where women are the leaders of the local adaptation measures, is key. Women must have the power to design, be informed and implement projects, as they are amongst the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Capacity building and engaging women, along with youths and Indigenous populations, is critical to the success of adaptation initiatives.

Change happens in the long term, and to ensure success, initiatives must first understand the different strengths, skills, roles and knowledge Indigenous people, especially women, have within their communities and integrate them in their implementation strategies. Panelists attested that participatory approaches that incorporate Indigenous, traditional knowledge is critical. Indigenous knowledge and women leadership have guided communities for centuries, allowing them to use their natural resources sustainably and leading to their improved socio-economic opportunities. This knowledge is evolving and adapting as well, responding to the fast-paced nature of climate change that show a change in their environments and climate which are no longer as predictable as they once were.

“Climate change is a moving target... You can never have one solution for climate adaptation. They all need to be integrated approaches.” - Ali Raza Rizvi (IUCN)

Indigenous peoples and local communities are very aware of this and have already been adapting to unprecedented conditions. Ensuring accessibility to scientific and technical knowledge, within their own language, allows for informed community decision-making, which creates more opportunities for ecosystem-based adaptation. However, as Mr. Sonam Tobgay, Chief Forestry Officer of the Royal Government of Bhutan notes, there must be an enabling policy environment for this to happen. Governments at all levels must also understand the importance of Indigenous knowledge to climate adaptation. This is the case of Korea for instance, which according to Ms. Hyoeun Jenny Kim, Ambassador & Deputy Minister for Climate Change Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working to identify and implement  NbS for climate change adaptation determined and led by local communities. The country is ready to share technology and know-how with developing countries, such as green infrastructure development assistance, accelerate climate change adaptation implementation as a nation.

Financing adaptation projects should ensure that funding is directed towards women and Indigenous Peoples, especially in mountain communities. Dr. German Velasquez from Green Climate Fund (GCF) explained that financing windows for these types of projects have been established under the GCF and that more projects addressing the gaps and links between women, Indigenous People and climate change, need to be submitted for financing.

“Indigenous knowledge alone is not sufficient. Scientific knowledge alone is not sufficient. We must marry the two.” -  Mana Omar (Kenya)

featured image

Do you want to hear on-the-ground testimonies from local and Indigenous community members? Check out these videos from our Scaling Up Mountain EbA programme!

Since the conclusion of the Scaling-up Mountain EbA programme, IUCN has published the programme’s various achievements and lessons learned, alongside country briefs for each of the 3 flagship and 3 expansion countries. These materials are accessible on the Scaling-up Mountain EbA page.

IUCN also developed two publications on Ecosystem-based Adaptation: Catalogue of Ecosystem-based Adaptation measures in mountains and Handbook System for the Design and Implementation of EbA.