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Despite clear connections between each challenge, there is still a limited understanding of how all three interact in practice. UN agencies, gender and peacebuilding networks, the Environmental Peacebuilding Association and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have all called for more comprehensive analysis on the links between gender and social inequality, climate change and conflict. Our recent practice paper highlighted how gender and cultural identity in particular is largely absent from discussions around climate change and conflict. 

Over the past year, we have carried out participatory analysis with pastoralist, indigenous and Kashmiri communities in Uganda, Kashmir and the Philippines to understand how gender and cultural norms, relationships and power structures shape how different people experience the impacts of climate change, the types of responses they adopt and how this interacts with conflict systems.

Our new report outlines some key findings: 

  • Gender roles become harder to fulfil due to the effects of climate change, which can make it increasingly difficult for communities to maintain and develop their cultural identities and can have significant mental health effects. 
  • Gender roles and expectations can evolve in response to climate pressures, disrupting traditional cultural values and fuelling violence in households and wider communities.
  • As communities increasingly struggle to live according to their traditional identities, masculine and high-risk coping strategies can be activated in response to climate change, driving violence at the community level.
  • Government responses to climate change which fail to respond to gendered needs and undermine diverse cultural knowledge, rights and values can place communities at extreme risk during natural disasters and further spark pathways to violence.

The report offers the following lessons on how to create more gender and culturally responsive peacebuilding and climate programming and policy:

  1. Address underlying inequalities and fragility to strengthen climate resilience and unlock effective, sustainable climate action.
  2. Leverage climate change initiatives as entry points for peacebuilding and gender and social equality outcomes, with a strong focus on masculinities. 
  3. Integrate an intersectional gendered analysis into peacebuilding and climate change programming, policy development and advocacy.
  4. Advance gender and culturally-responsive climate action at governmental levels. 
  5. Invest in programming that prevents climate and gender-related conflict and is led by local women and civil society organisations.