At the Conference of Parties in Paris in December 2015 (COP21), countries across the globe adopted an historic international climate agreement. In anticipation of the climate conference, countries publicly outlined the climate actions they intend to take post-2020, known as their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Three years later on 14 December 2018, SNV organised a panel discussion at COP24 in Poland to discuss gender-responsive approaches in climate smart agriculture and energy and how they contribute to NDCs. A mixed panel of key climate experts from the government ministries and the private and non-profit sector in Vietnam* brought experiences and evidence of gender-responsive approaches and how they could multiply the impact of climate actions and contribute to national climate policies.

Climate actions in Vietnam
Vietnam is among the countries worst affected by climate change, thus an effective and sustainable response to climate change is of crucial importance. In 2016, Vietnam ratified the Paris Agreement and formalised its commitment to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its NDCs: a cut of 8% below business-as-usual levels by domestic resources and by 25% with conditions of international support. Sustainable agriculture and renewable energy are identified as crucial contributors to achieving the NDCs, the Sustainable Development Goals and the country's socio-economic development goals. Vietnam's NDCs highlight both climate change mitigation and adaptation as fundamental approaches to reduce both GHG emissions and negative impacts of climate change.

Gender-responsiveness multiplies impact of climate actions
Gender-responsive approaches are an integral aspect of Vietnam’s NDCs as gender equality cannot be separated from challenges of poverty, livelihoods, energy and the need for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Director of the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) in Vietnam, Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh, was one of the panellists and highlighted the importance of ensuring women’s participation in decision-making processes around climate change at local, national and global levels, to increase equal access for women and men to approach and apply advanced technologies in agriculture and energy for better resilience. “In addition, it is important to develop an enabling environment for women to contribute their ideas on climate adaptation and mitigation. When climate change responses are not gender-responsive, we leave half of the world population behind and miss the opportunity to fully utilise the knowledge and resources of different groups to contribute to NDCs”, says Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh.

SNV's gender session at COP24

“As practitioners on the topics of climate action and gender, we see clear evidence that gender-responsive approaches increase inclusion of and benefits for vulnerable groups”, explains Ms. Tran Tu Anh, Programme Manager Climate Smart Agriculture and Gender at SNV Vietnam. “In addition, participatory and inclusive approaches at grassroots level multiply the impact of climate actions as local people benefit from the chance to access information and resources and to protect themselves and the community.”

The role of civil society in NDCs
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) play a crucial role in the development of strong national and local climate actions. “It is actually because of NGOs and CBOs and our influence and the role we play, that we have stronger NDCs and National Adaptation Plans”, says one of the panellists, Mr. Nithi Nesadurai, Regional Coordinator of the Climate Action Network in South-East Asia (CANSEA). "As civil society we are not bounded by the need for governments and politicians to compromise and can focus on our role to inspire people to uphold to the highest standards. If we would not take this role, governments and decision-makers would settle down to take the path of least resistance. Therefore, it is because of the work of NGOs and CBOs that we have stronger NDCs and adaptation plans and higher ambitions on revising the NDCs.”

In addition, NGOs and CBOs bring experiences and best practices from the ground to the policy level to enable governments and decision-makers to make informed decisions and enhance gender-responsive policy development. “The social and economic situation and even our culture is constantly changing due to globalisation”, explains Dr. Chu Van Chuong, Vice Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. “These factors affect gender relations, roles and issues in communities. Therefore, we need to keep updating our knowledge and keep a constant focus on gender-responsiveness, in budgeting, policies and even law. By enhancing our gender-responsiveness we can improve the implementation of the NDCs.”

Evidence from the field
During the session, SNV and GreenID launched two videos to showcase the multiplied impact from gender-responsive climate actions in agriculture and energy. SNV’s video on the ‘Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises’ (FLOW/EOWE) programme in Vietnam, shows how the programme is contributing to climate smart agriculture solutions that effectively respond to climate change, while increasing economic benefits for and empowerment of women in the rice, coconut and asparagus value chains.

* The SNV Gender session at COP24 was moderated by Tom Derksen, Managing Director Energy at SNV, and invited 5 panellists:
- Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh, Director GreenID and 1 among 7 World Goldman Environment Prize winners 2018
- Dr. Chu Van Chuong, Vice Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam
- Dr. Chu Thanh Huong, Representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam, Gender focal point of Vietnam negotiation delegation
- Mr. Nithi Nesadurai, Regional Coordinator of the Climate Action Network South-East Asia (CANSEA), Climate Action Network-International (CAN)
- Ms. Tran Tu Anh, Programme Manager Climate Smart Agriculture and Gender at SNV Vietnam