Talanoa Consulting

Demystifying climate finance impacts in small island developing states : Pacific women’s perspectives from Funafuti and Weno

A Q&A with lead author Dr. Jale Samuwai

GENDA Disrupt industry talk 3

By Marita Manley in conversation with Jale Samuwai

At Talanoa Consulting, we’re passionate about locally-led, inclusive research, programme design, implementation and evaluation that is informed and conducted using Pacific approaches. Wherever possible, we do what we can to amplify the voices of researchers and practitioners from the Pacific on our platforms. 

In the aftermath of COP26, where Pacific delegates have sought to amplify the needs and priorities of Pacific communities, Dr. Jale Samuwai, reminds us of the important work that is still to do in ensuring that climate finance is effective in addressing the needs of women in the region.

Rationale for the research - What was the question you were trying to answer?

The Pacific Island Forum Secretariat estimated that in the past 10 years the Pacific region has accessed over USD 1 billion of climate finance from a variety of sources. Questions are being asked about whether the climate finance that has flowed into the region is actually reaching those most vulnerable to climate change impacts given the evidence on the ground that the vulnerabilities of these communities continues to increase. For instance, Pacific women, particularly in remote communities, continued to be disproportionately impacted by the climate change impacts, despite ‘increased’ investments in resilience at the regional and national levels. The key question we wanted to explore was: whether climate finance is working for women in communities and is it transforming their lived realities?

Findings - What are some of the key findings the research highlights?

  • The flow of climate finance to the Pacific region is increasing;
  • Conversation of climate finance in the Pacific still largely revolves around access rather than accountability and quality of impacts on the ground;
  • Assessing whether climate finance addresses gender inequality has received very little attention in the region despite the increased profile of vulnerability of Pacific women to the impacts of inequality and climate change impacts;
  • A high degree of disparity exists between climate finance discourse at a community level and at regional and national levels;
  • Addressing this disparity is essential to ensure that concrete and transformative impacts of climate finance are experienced by the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in Pacific communities;
  • The mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’ rings hollow when vulnerable women in rural and remote Pacific communities continue to feel excluded from the benefits of climate change efforts.

Audience - Who needs to read this and why? What practical application does it have for development practice?

The paper is relevant for a range of stakeholders, particularly donors of climate finance, governments, development practitioners, NGOs/CSO sectors, communities, journalists and academia.

The work is critical in that it gives an insight of the perception of what women are feeling and the communities which policy makers, donors and development practitioners needs to keep in mind in the designing and implementation of climate change programs/project in the Pacific. This would also strengthen the argument for governments to transform their public financial management processes and adopt gender responsive budgeting to ensure women equally and fairly benefit from development initiatives.

The findings could inform the mainstream of womens’ voices in the climate finance discourse.

Final thoughts - any next steps or follow on research or feedback you’ve received or personal reflections you want to share?

The role of women as agents of change and champions of climate action is critical. The Pacific when compared to the rest of the world still lags considerably behind when it comes to addressing gender equality particularly when it comes to the climate change space.

A lot of work is needed to ensure that climate finance works for women and reaches those recognised as most vulnerable in communities, who are often on the frontlines of climate change impacts with little capacity to deal with the problem.

It’s high time that the Pacific shift the narratives of climate finance from ‘access’ to ‘quality of impacts (social accountability)’ because the situation on the ground seems to be getting worse particularly for the most vulnerable in communities. We need to hold to account donors, development partners and our leaders who most often than not invoke images and narratives of ‘helpless’ Pacific women to access climate funds, which sadly do not really reach those on the ground.

The mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’ rings hollow should women in Pacific rural and remote communities continue to feel left out and prevented from enjoying the benefits of, and rights to, climate finance.