Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change: Gender Issues in International Law and Policy


Broeckhoven, Nicky. 2014. “Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change: Gender Issues in International Law and Policy.” DiGeSt. Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 1 (2): 23–38.

Author: Nicky Broeckhoven


“Dangerous climate change and large-scale biodiversity loss present major challenges to the international community. As a result, these global issues have been firmly placed on the international agenda and have increasingly become the subject of international environmental law and policy. At first sight, biodiversity loss and climate change, as well as the laws and policies adopted in response to them, seem gender neutral (i.e. affecting both women and men in similar ways). However, nothing could be further from the truth. Although all of us will be affected by the impacts of environmental degradation, disparities along gender lines clearly exist. On the one hand, men and women often face different risks and vulnerabilities due to existing gender-based inequalities and pervasive discrimination (Arora-Jonsson, 2011; MacGregor, 2010; UNDP, 2012; Skinner, 2011; Raczek, Blomstrom & Owren, 2010; Dankelman, 2012). In practice, this means that women are more likely to lose out in the face of environmental degradation than men. On the other hand, both women and men play a crucial role as agents of change in dealing with these global concerns (e.g. IFAD, 2014). If we want our responses to climate change and biodiversity loss to be efficient and effective, it is paramount to integrate a gender perspective into international environmental law and policy on these issues. The available literature discussing this legal and policy dimension tends to be rather fragmented and limited in time and scope. This essay aims to reduce a gap in the literature by providing an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the extent to which gender has been integrated into the international legal frameworks on biodiversity conservation and climate change. First, the linkages between gender issues and the environment are put into context (Sections 1 and 2). Second, the author provides a critical overview of the “gender” language adopted in the frame of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Sections 3 and 4). The essay includes recent gender-related developments, and highlights the specific role of women’s and gender organizations in this process. Finally, it discusses whether a “real” integration of a gender perspective has taken place” (Broeckhoven 2014, 23-24). 

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Law, International Organizations

Year: 2014

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