Address at conference on climate change – feminist action for gender justice

Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim's address at the conference Climate change – feminist action for gender justice,  hosted by Forum for Women and Development (Fokus) and UN Women.

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Dear friends,

I would like to thank Fokus, UN Women and others for the initiative to this conference. I am sure you have had an inspiring morning. It is my pleasure to start off the afternoon.

I am sorry that I cannot stay long. I had planned to take part in the whole panel discussion, but a meeting with UN’s Deputy Secretary-General altered my agenda today. Food security within the current global crisis is on the agenda with her. But I am glad we can have a short panel talk before I must leave.

Now, first of all, I am worried. We are in the midst of a full-scale war on the European continent. The scope of the brutal tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is very hard to grasp. The violence, the waves of refugees, the danger to global food supplies, energy insecurity, geopolitical instability, and much more.

Another set of consequences is that the war in Ukraine makes it more difficult to keep our attention on slower moving trends and challenges. Now, risking to state the obvious to you today: Climate change is – and still is – the biggest threat to our lives and livelihood. And the greatest risk to peace and security, a threat with unequal consequences. There is no doubt about that. Climate change not only damages nature and environment. Climate change fuels hunger, conflict and poverty.

Women are more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change and environmental crisis. Across the world, women depend more on, yet have less access to, natural resources.

Women bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water and fuel. At the same time, women have less access than men to land, income, credit, technology, education, training, decision-making processes, extension of services – and so forth – to help them to adapt to climate change.

So, climate change creates and reinforces inequalities. Climate change affects women and girls, more than men and boys. All over the world, but especially those vulnerable and marginalized.

Climate change fuels gender gaps. It shouldn’t. For when it comes to our need to acquire the best knowledge – collectively – of how to the face the challenges of climate change across the world, both women and men are needed. As in all other areas in life and learning.

Furthermore, on climate adaptation, risk reduction and mitigation, women and men have different experiences and expertise. Therefore, women – we, us – must participate fully and significantly in all efforts to combat climate change. Women possess half the globe’s knowledge and resources. We need all minds and all hands on deck.

We have all of us studied IPCC’s new report on climate impacts and climate adaptation. The report says – among other things – that climate change has led to changes in agricultural productivity – and based on my own personal background, this is a chapter I’ve read carefully. Climate change has already made an impact on human health and food security. It has destroyed homes and infrastructure. And it has, for some, led to the loss of property and income. Which in turn has had adverse effects on gender and social equity. The report proves what we have feared.

At the same time – and the good thing is – that the IPCC report says that we can reduce structural vulnerabilities to climate change. We can do something. Climate change can be reduced through carefully designed policies. Now, in order to do that we must strengthen the gender perspective in our climate action. At all levels. This is very high on the Norwegian government’s agenda, and that is my main point today.

Let me mention four different examples on how Norway is integrating the gender perspective in our work and policies.

First, we are supporting agricultural research-for-development projects in Mali and Niger. They have a particular focus on gender issues. They aim to develop agricultural technologies and practices in order to adapt them to climate change. This includes strengthening links to the markets and facilitating new, small agri-businesses, particularly those led by women and youth.

Second, through the Forest and Farm Facility, Norway supports women’s income diversification into tree planting for climate resilience in Tanzania. We work with local governments and families to facilitate women’s access to land. We help them through the process of getting certificates of right of occupancy. These tenure arrangements give women confidence to engage in tree planting and crop production.

Third, in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, a combination of less rain and rise in temperatures result in higher demand for water. As a consequence, agriculture, a cornerstone of the Palestinian economy, will suffer. And so will people, especially women. This is why Norway supports energy projects in Palestine, especially within water management and renewables, green energy efforts.

Fourth, as an elected member of the UN Security Council for 2021-22, Norway strives to integrate Women, Peace and Security in all of the Council’s work. We have pledged to quadruple our target for funding in this field. We want to ensure that the Security Council discusses climate-related security threats. And that it assesses the possible impact of climate change on other issues on its agenda.  


We must avoid that investments in competence building and technology to fight climate change only widen the gender gap. Women have the right to participate in decision-making processes. Decisions are not sustainable if women are not at the negotiation tables.

We must ensure women’s legal rights, their access to education, their income opportunities, and their access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.

We must – and we will – promote human rights and good governance, as well as applying a “gender lens” to all our activities of Norwegian development cooperation. I believe that the SDGs cannot be achieved without having all these elements in place.

We intend to double our climate finance towards 2026 and triple our support for adaptation. The fight against climate change is a cornerstone in our development efforts. Because climate change undermines our past achievements and our future development efforts.

I am also Minister of Nordic Cooperation, and this week we have celebrated 60 years of the Helsingfors Treaty, our Nordic constitution, so to say. The events and discussions this week have been very meaningful. However, you may be surprised to know that even here in our region we have a lot to learn in this field. Efforts to mitigate climate change and enhance the green economy transition have to a large degree been “gender blind”. The efforts have been on men’s terms.

We must change this. We need a more sustainable approach to resolving conflicts of interests – one that preserves partnerships through consensus-building. We need to be creative and work together, promoting self-interests – but always for mutual gains. Women – we – are good at this. Men must be partners, but not the only main actors. 

Now, dear friends, in order to sum up: There are many challenges ahead of us: We need to ensure that gender equality is addressed in climate policies. We must apply a “gender lens” when creating greener jobs. We should demand that women are represented in decision-making processes. We must do what we can to bring governments, research communities, industry and civil society together to address all these issues.

Thank you.