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7th GEF Assembly Side Event: Financing and monitoring the gender-biodiversity nexus by UNCBD Women’s Caucus

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1.5 hours of a panel discussion to highlight financing remains a critical gap to be addressed in the post-2020 period to ensure that gender equality and biodiversity objectives in Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM-GBF) are met (CBD/SBI/3/2/ADD3). Financing will be required to ensure that the outcomes set in the Gender Plan of Action (2023-2030) and the gender-specific Targets (Targets 22 and 23) from the Global Biodiversity Framework are achieved.


Tuesday, 22 August 2023

15.00 to 16.30 hours local time


Room 207, Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, Canada

Please register here if you are joining online.


This sessions is organised by UNCBD Women’s Caucus in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC, and GEF Gender Partnership.

  • Opening Remarks by Doreen Robinson, UNEP
  • Panel Discussion featuring representatives from the Government of Canada, GEF Secretariat – GEF Gender Partnership (Verona Collantes), Both Ends (Eva Schmitz), PEREMPUAN AMAN, RRI (Devi Agranni), and MEPA Trust (Ruth Spencer).
  • Closing Remarks by Olivier Rukundo, CBD Secretariat.
  • Moderation by Amelia Arreguin, UN CBD Women’s Caucus


  • Explore GEF-8 programming and implementation strategies for a gender-responsive Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Examine ways to effectively monitor progress towards gender equality, biodiversity, and climate goals within the GEF results framework.
  • Discuss priorities and challenges in the programming directions of the GBF Fund, supporting the human rights-based and gender-responsive execution of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Highlights from the event

Speaker panel,

  • Soraya Hassanali, Government of Canada
  • Verona Collantes, Global Environment Facility (GEF) Gender Partnership
  • Eva Schmitz, Both Ends
  • Devi Anggraini, PEREMPUAN AMAN and WIGSA
  • Ruth Spencer, MEPA Trust
  • Olivier Rukundo, CBD Secretariat (Closing remarks)

Moderator: Amelia Arreguin, CBD Women’s Caucus

The event was held on August 22, 2023,  as a side event of the 7th GEF Assembly held in Vancouver, Canada. This session organized collaboratively by the UNCBD Women’s Caucus, UNEP-WCMC, and GEF Gender Partnership provided a platform for discussing the crucial intersection of gender and environmental conservation. The panel featured influential voices, including Soraya Hassanali from the Government of Canada, Verona Collantes representing the GEF Gender Partnership, Eva Schmitz from Both Ends, Devi Anggraini of PEREMPUAN AMAN and WIGSA, and Ruth Spencer of MEPA Trust, and moderation was under Amelia Arreguin from the CBD Women’s Caucus. 

The objectives of this side event were rooted in the imperative need to ensure gender-responsive implementation within the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Acknowledging the pivotal role of women in biodiversity conservation and the commitments made by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including gender-specific targets and the Gender Plan of Action, one key objective was to explore opportunities within the GEF-8 programming and implementation arrangements. This exploration sought to identify pathways for integrating gender-responsive approaches effectively. Another essential aim was to enhance the monitoring mechanisms within the GEF results framework, allowing for better tracking of progress towards gender equality, biodiversity conservation, and climate goals. Additionally, discussions revolved around the GBF Fund’s programming directions, including opportunities, priorities, and challenges, with the overarching ambition of fully harnessing its potential to support the human rights-based and gender-responsive implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Let’s now dive into the discussions of the event and the invaluable insights shared by the speakers:

Doreen Robinson from the United Nations Environmental Programme emphasized the critical importance of financing in the gender-responsive implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework. She stressed the need for diverse funding sources, including contributions from national budgets, bilateral and multilateral development finance, and the private sector, to support the multifaceted actions outlined in the Gender Plan of Action. Robinson highlighted the necessity of an integrated approach, calling for coherence in funding allocations across various institutions and agencies, including the CBD, OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to effectively address gender equality, biodiversity conservation, and climate objectives. Additionally, she underscored the role of development co-operation and official development finance as crucial financing sources to drive integrated action towards these goals. Enhanced coordination among focal points, agencies, and institutions at both national and multilateral levels was also emphasized to maximize impact and efficiency in gender-responsive biodiversity conservation.

Soraya Hassanali, representing Global Affairs Canada, provided valuable insights from a donor and government perspective. She highlighted Canada’s commitment to addressing systemic barriers to women’s and girls’ equality, both domestically and internationally. Canada’s approach includes a feminist lens that incorporates a rights-based and inclusive framework, in line with the Feminist International Assistance Policy. Soraya emphasized the importance of gender-based analysis (GBA+), which examines multiple dimensions, including gender, race, culture, disability, sexual orientation and identity, to inform programming and projects. She highlighted Canada’s work with Indigenous women’s organisations to address gender-based violence and promote reconciliation. In the international context, Canada actively participated in negotiations on gender goals and the Gender Action Plan. It has provided funding for dialogue with Indigenous peoples and local communities to ensure women’s participation in the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework and Plan of Action. Canada also plays a key role in promoting gender equality through the Friends of Gender Equality Group, which promotes knowledge sharing and support. Soraya highlighted Canada’s commitment to funding gender equality targets and initiatives to support developing countries in implementing their national biodiversity strategies and action plans. She mentioned Canada’s significant investments in climate adaptation projects and nature-based solutions, with a focus on gender equality. Soraya concluded by highlighting the importance of identifying gender-sensitive indicators and improving data collection capacity, particularly in developing countries. Canada is actively working on its national biodiversity strategy, consulting with civil society organisations, women’s groups and indigenous communities to achieve its goals by 2030.

Verona Collantes-Lebale from the GEF Secretariat highlighted the importance of having a gender policy and gender-responsive project parameters, and emphasised their positive impact, particularly at the project design stage. She also noted the progress made in this area and underlined the GBFF’s mandate to be gender-responsive. Verona discussed the GEF’s commitment to promoting gender equality through specific targets (targets 22 and 23), which are aligned with global biodiversity goals. She mentioned the GEF’s shift towards broader social inclusion in the GEF 8 cycle, with a target of 20 per cent of GEF funds going to civil society organisations. Verona noted that GEF projects are increasingly designed to directly benefit communities, including indigenous peoples and civil society organisations. She emphasised that this policy direction is being reinforced by governments and Council members advocating for greater gender mainstreaming in projects. Verona concluded on an optimistic note, acknowledging the importance of the dedicated platform for women’s voices and gender advocates at the GEF Assembly in fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders towards shared gender equality goals.

Eva Schmitz from Both ENDS, an environmental organisation, shared insights from a decade of experience working on gender and the environment. Eva emphasised the importance of anchoring gender and environment efforts at the local level, where gender impacts are most significant. She stressed the need to actively engage with local stakeholders from the outset to ensure the effectiveness of interventions and funding. Eva noted that for many communities, gender, biodiversity and climate are intertwined aspects of life, making a localised approach crucial. She stressed the need to rely on gender and women’s rights experts, and cautioned against trying to address these complex issues without specialised knowledge. Eva emphasised the value of using existing knowledge and networks, and the need to work with established movements and organisations. She encouraged a focus on tangible impacts on the lives and livelihoods of women and girls, emphasising the importance of context-specific analysis and monitoring. Eva concluded by stressing the need for dedicated funding and support from multiple countries and agencies to effectively advance this critical work.

Devi Anngraini of PEREMPUAN AMAN highlighted the critical issue of climate finance not effectively reaching indigenous, afro-descendant and local community women and girls, despite their frontline role in protecting and restoring their territories. She noted that only 1.7% of recorded human activities between 2010 and 2013 were directed towards these communities, despite their significant contributions to the conservation and management of natural resources. Devi stressed the importance of tenure security for these communities, recognising indigenous women as rights holders rather than mere project targets. She emphasised the need for direct funding and capacity building to support the leadership and expertise of indigenous women and grassroots organisations. Devi called on donors to ensure transparency, accountability and compliance with standards when providing funding. She stressed the need to strengthen the representation and protection of indigenous women’s rights in climate change efforts, and called for a bottom-up and context-based approach to empowering indigenous women. Devi concluded with a call to action for dedicated support for indigenous women in climate mediation efforts.

Ruth Spencer of MEPA Trust discussed the challenge of resources being allocated primarily to legally registered NGOs and larger groups. To engage smaller working groups, she emphasised the need to guide them through the process of legal registration, providing templates and support. Ruth emphasised the importance of community buy-in and ownership for project sustainability, particularly in the case of infrastructure maintenance. She noted that local groups currently at the pilot level of funding need to be scaled up, but face challenges in accessing larger funds. Ruth pointed out that local focal points play a crucial role in determining the allocation of funds, often prioritising climate projects over biodiversity. She emphasised the need to consult and involve local stakeholders in decision-making processes. Ruth also addressed the issue of foreign investors gaining access to protected areas, leading to local protests and concerns about economic and environmental impacts. She stressed the importance of educating local communities to understand the value of their ecosystems and become effective advocates for their protection and sustainable management. Ruth concluded by emphasising the importance of prioritising voices from the territories.

In his closing remarks, Olivier Rukundo of the CBD Secretariat emphasised the importance of using entry points for funding and working together to implement the Action Plan. He highlighted key points from the event, including women’s leadership, context-specific project design and project sustainability. Olivier emphasised the need for a monitoring framework, acknowledged the importance of expertise and resources, and called for more transparency and democratic decision-making in project design. He thanked the organisers and encouraged participation in other gender-related events during the week to raise awareness and engage in specific discussions on related issues.


In the pursuit of gender-responsive environmental action, it’s imperative that we emphasise the critical importance of funding and monitoring. Adequate funding is the lifeblood of any effective initiative, and directing financial resources towards gender-biodiversity actions is crucial. This funding ensures that projects designed to empower women and conserve biodiversity have the resources they need to thrive. At the same time, robust monitoring mechanisms are the compass that guides us to success. They allow us to measure the tangible impact of our efforts and ensure that gender equality and biodiversity conservation are not just aspirations, but achievable goals. By dedicating resources and careful monitoring to these actions, we strengthen our commitment to a sustainable, equitable future where women’s empowerment and biodiversity conservation are inextricably linked and thrive.

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