Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment side-event: “Gender, the Environment and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”

8 Sep 2017
Bangkok, Thailand

ESCAP organized a side event during the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment on “Gender, the Environment and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”, on 8 September 2017. The side event was opened by Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of ESCAP followed by a panel discussion with distinguished speakers, including: H.E. Ms. Lorna Eden, Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Fiji; H.E. Mr. Anuradha Jayarathne, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka; Dr. Muhammad Khurshid, Director General, South Asia Co-Operative Environment Programme and Dr. Bernadette (Babette) P. Resurrección, Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute. The discussion identified strategic entry points for policy interventions towards a truly inclusive and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.

“The momentum set forth by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a historic opportunity for reducing inequality and closing gender gaps,” said Ms. Akhtar. "In Asia and the Pacific, the lives of a sizable proportion of women are inextricably tied to the use of environment for daily support and livelihood. For sustainable development to become a reality in the region, it is incumbent on policymakers to address the pivotal linkages between gender and the environment.”

During the side-event, ESCAP also launched its report on “Gender, the Environment and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”. This is the first Asia-Pacific report that comprehensively maps out the intersections between gender and environment at the levels of household, work, community and policy in the spheres of food security, agriculture, energy, water, fisheries and forestry. Key findings show that most economically-active women are in the agriculture sector, yet less than 20 per cent of women hold secure tenure to the lands they farm. In addition, structural factors have restricted their access to credit, mechanical equipment, irrigation facilities and extension services, which in turn has a negative effect on agricultural productivity. The report also shows that 66 per cent of workers in large-scale marine fisheries are women but their work, more often than not, remains formally unrecognized as official data tends to focus on male bastions such as open-ocean and river fishing, ignoring activities such as post-harvest processing and net-making. Furthermore, the report underlines that clean energy has transformative potential to enhance productivity, relieve the burden of housework, and improve women’s health, as household air pollution is the second-biggest health risk factor for women and children globally. The evidence in this report reinforces that integrating gender concerns into policy making in agriculture, energy, water, fisheries and forestry sectors is imperative to tackle gender disparities and enhance women’s access to resources and economic empowerment.