New UN ESCAP report highlights gender equality is pivotal to achieving sustainable development

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today released the first report to comprehensively map out the intersections between gender and environment at the levels of household, work, community and policy in Asia-Pacific.

Launched by United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar during the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment in Bangkok, the report identifies key policy interventions by examining gender concerns in the spheres of food security, agriculture, energy, water, fisheries and forestry.

“The momentum set forth by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a historic opportunity for reducing inequality and closing gender gaps,” said Dr. 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.”

In line with the Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda, adopted earlier this year, the report entitled ‘Gender, the Environment and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific’ provides a body of analysis for member States to ensure the integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment as central issues in their environmental and sustainable development policy agenda.

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. Furthermore, 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. If women had access to and control of the same resources as men, their contributions would increase food production by 2.5 to 4 per cent, which would be enough to move 150 million people out of hunger and poverty across the developing world.

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. ESCAP highlights the need for policymakers to track the entire fishing cycle from start to finish, to make this “invisible work” done by women visible.

The Asia-Pacific region today has at least 455 million people who lack access to electricity and more than 2 billion people still relying on biomass, or solid fuel, for cooking. 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.

Key policy recommendations include adopting gender mainstreaming as a mechanism to enact gender-sensitive policies and interventions, conducting systems mapping within and across sectors to address gender concerns, and adopting gender budgeting to establish gender-sensitive financing goals, processes and mechanisms.

Country-specific evidence in this report reinforces fostering women’s effective participation and leadership in the management of environmental resources will positively influence conservation and resource efficiency.

Download the report here: http://www.unescap.org/publications/gender-environment-and-sustainable-development-asia-and-pacific

For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms. Kavita Sukanandan, Associate Public Information Officer, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP, T: (66) 2 288 1869 / E: sukanandan@un.org