Synergies and trade-offs between climate change adaptation options and gender equality: a review of the global literature

Roy, J. et al.
Humanities and Social Sciences Communications

Climate change impacts are being felt across sectors in all regions of the world, and adaptation projects are being implemented to reduce climate risks and existing vulnerabilities. Climate adaptation actions also have significant synergies and tradeoffs with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 5 on gender equality. Questions are increasingly being raised about the gendered and climate justice implications of different adaptation options. This paper investigates if reported climate change adaptation actions are contributing to advancing the goal of gender equality (SDG 5) or not. It focuses on linkages between individual targets of SDG 5 and climate change adaptation actions for nine major sectors where transformative climate actions are envisaged. The assessment is based on evidence of adaptation actions documented in 319 relevant research publications published during 2014–2020. Positive links to nine targets under SDG 5 are found in adaptation actions that are consciously designed to advance gender equality. However, in four sectors—ocean and coastal ecosystems; mountain ecosystems; poverty, livelihood, sustainable development; and industrial system transitions, we find more negative links than positive links. For adaptation actions to have positive impacts on gender equality, gender-focused targets must be intentionally brought in at the prioritisation, designing, planning, and implementation stages. An SDG 5+ approach, which takes into consideration intersectionality and gender aspects beyond women alone, can help adaptation actions move towards meeting gender equality and other climate justice goals. This reflexive approach is especially critical now, as we approach the mid-point in the timeline for achieving the SDGs.