Integrating Gender, Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) into technical projects

24 April 2024

Lessons from Implementing Partners 

As the first phase of UK PACT comes to a close, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund (GRCF) team have reflected on lessons learnt on integrating GEDSI across a diverse portfolio. As a result, we have published a learning paper and held a series of events to share best practice. Technical sectors frequently overlook GEDSI integration, as it is seen as not relevant or too difficult, and Measuring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) is an area that is often seen as not offering GEDSI opportunities. Therefore, we held an MRV Learning Event on 28 February 2024, to share lessons learnt from our experience integrating GEDSI into the delivery of MRV projects.

Collaborating with four Implementing Partners, the event enabled peer-to-peer learning, highlighted examples, and offered first-hand insights from those on the ground, demonstrating that MRV and GEDSI objectives can be successfully combined.

As Beth Child, Deputy Director of UK PACT at the FCDO, said during the event:
“We know that GEDSI matters, we know that using GEDSI means we have better impact and better replicability, and that’s been proven time and time again”.

The projects

Four projects took centre stage, each offering unique perspectives and approaches for GEDSI across culturally and geographically varied locations.

  1. Embedding strategies and action plans for climate just transitions in communities.
    Keystone Foundation – India
    Presenters were Gunashekar M, Technical Coordinator, and Vinitha Murukesan, Programme Coordinator. They spoke about their community led MRV initiative in Tamil Nadu, India, emphasising the co-development of site-specific indicators with marginalised communities. Their efforts focus on breaking traditional gender roles, empowering young girls and boys, and helping elected female representatives exercise administrative power effectively.
  2. Carbon market framework assessment to support the Federal Government. 
    ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) – Brazil:
    Presenter was Danielle Berini, Senior Policy Analyst. She highlighted their inclusive approach with 75% of their team comprising women and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Their activities, ranging from communications to technical research, are tailored to ensure marginalised groups' visibility and participation, overcoming challenges such as data collection and policy engagement.
  3. Enhancing actions towards sustained GHG emissions reductions in Bolivia and Ecuador by strengthening MRV systems in Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) aligned with NDCs reporting and transparency requirements.
    Practical Action (co-led by Carbon Trust) – Bolivia/Ecuador:

    Presenters were Amanda Luna, Senior Manager and Environmental Markets Sales Lead, and Shirley Pazos, Latam Business Development Coordinator. Operating across Bolivia and Ecuador, they target Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector emissions, emphasising GEDSI integration and stakeholder engagement. Through active participation, capacity building, and policy recommendations, they address challenges like unequal access to training and gender stereotypes, fostering increased visibility and empowerment among vulnerable groups.
  4. Strengthening the MRV of smallholder farms in the Peruvian Amazon to access global deforestation-free markets and contribute to Peru’s NDC.
    Solidaridad – Peru:
    Presenter was Talía Postigo, Project Co-ordinator. In the Peruvian Amazon, Solidaridad (through their current project Amazon InnovaTech) focus on enhancing MRV for smallholder cocoa farms, with a keen eye on gender equality. Their GEDSI plan includes training and leadership programs for women and youth, tackling disparities in technical assistance and access to resources while harnessing innovative MRV tools.

Key themes and highlights

Despite the projects operating in different contexts, three prominent themes emerged:

Encouraging participation from Government and Local Policy makers

There was a common focus on the necessity of engaging governmental bodies as key stakeholders in climate initiatives, to ensure sustainability and scalability of approaches, combining innovative technical aspects with inclusivity. In this regard, Keystone Foundation said that “the government is a partner in our project, and they are key in expanding it to a larger scale. Integrating GEDSI to this MRV, will definitely be fruitful as the government will be the one taking it up to a larger scale.” ICC also identified the difficulty in finding and engaging policy makers as a key challenge, as well as the need to empower government institutions to take the projects forward: “We also aim to build capacity for government staff to make their own decisions and keep improving the national Emissions Trading System (ETS) over time.”

Fostering collaboration with indigenous communities

A similar sentiment was evoked in projects that had substantial engagement with indigenous communities, voicing the need to foster meaningful partnerships. In this sense Practical Action had much to say on the topic through their work with the Tacana people in Bolivia: “we want to emphasise the active participation and informed consent with the indigenous communities by ensuring that the indigenous community’s leaders (both men and women) and all their members are involved in all stages of the process.” They also added that their lessons learned were scalable for other future projects.

Navigating patriarchal structures to address societal norms

Furthermore, the influence of patriarchal norms was mutually addressed, particularly concerning the training and empowerment of women. Solidaridad spoke on the unfair societal expectations on women when compared to men: “We found that the societal burdens between male and female are very different. Females have a lot of productive work, community work, reproductive work, and caregiving work … while also having less access to privileges that could help them develop further.” Projects emphasised the need to navigate traditional power structures, ensuring equitable access to resources, greater flexibility, and opportunities for women's participation.

Fostering collaboration and learning8. Comuneros_y_productores_conociendo_el_trabajo_en_la parcela_Sr.Ahuanari_Fasabi (7)

The event culminated in a robust panel discussion, highlighting key insights, and charting the way forward. Participants emphasised the imperative of encouraging participation from government and local policymakers, recognising their pivotal role in scaling up projects and ensuring long-term sustainability. Moreover, the significance of fostering collaboration with indigenous communities was highlighted, emphasising the importance of active participation and informed consent to drive inclusive climate action. Additionally, navigating patriarchal structures emerged as a shared challenge, highlighting the need to address societal norms and ensure equitable access to resources for women's empowerment.

In her closing remarks, Valentina Girotto, GEDSI Lead for the GRCF team, highlighted how “these examples prove there is no climate action project which can claim to be too technical to integrate GEDSI: there is always something that can be done to ensure that projects take into account the impact they have on everyone, and that everyone benefits.

For further insights, click here to read the GEDSI Learning Paper which includes case studies that showcase how, with intentional, collaborative efforts, climate action can equitably include marginalised groups to achieve a more sustainable future, which leaves no one behind. 

About the author: Valentina Girotto is a Senior Director at ICF Consulting and served as the GESI Lead for the UK PACT Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Over the past fifteen years, she has delivered and designed complex ODA projects and embedded GESI considerations, including finding entry points and developing innovative approaches to include women and youth, adopting a human-centred design lens, and opening dialogue between stakeholders who normally operate within separate sectors.

Image captions: Community members and producers share their learnings about the work on the plot (Source: AIDER)