Co-Chairs Summary

Background Papers


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International Conference 
“Gender Perspectives for Earth Summit 2002 - 
Energy; Transport; Information for Decision-Making

Berlin, 10-12 January 2001

Co-Chairs' Summary of the Discussions

Conference hosts: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Berlin, and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Berlin

Substantive coordination: UNED Forum, London

Conference Co-Chairs: Minu Hemmati, UNED Forum; and Barbara Schaefer, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety

55 participants from 12 countries, including 13 representatives from Developing Countries and Countries in Transition, brought together a wealth of knowledge and expertise from various backgrounds – women's organisations, grass roots activists, professionals, academics, policy-makers.

The conference was part of the preparatory process towards CSD-9 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 (Earth Summit 2002). It focused on

·        Three of the CSD-9 topics – energy, transport, information for decision making – as regards their gender aspects (see background papers at the workshop website);

·        Preparations for Earth Summit 2002 with regard to women’s priorities and activities.

The conference was opened by high-level representatives: Gila Altmann, Parliamentary State Secretary from the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety; Dr Uschi Eid, Parliamentary State Secretary from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development; and Dr. Renate Augstein from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senor Citizens, Women and Youth.

The present co-chairs’ summary will serve as an input to both these UN processes. A full report will be made available in February 2001.

Over-arching Themes

Several fundamental questions and challenges were brought into the fore at various points:

There is a need to develop a concrete and lively common vision of sustainable development and gender justice, based on a shared set of values; an issue which is also concerning the relationship between the three pillars of sustainability.

Arguing on the basis of various theoretical approaches as well as concerns about uncontrolled globalisation, participants expressed the need for developing new economic models which would serve to overcome women's poverty, where women would not be marginalised and social and environmental costs would not be externalised.

Many participants expressed the need to contribute their expertise in an enlarged framework of policy-making. Current policy-making is based within the dominating paradigm of neoclassical economics – “all that counts is what can be counted in monetary terms” -, and the prevalence of analytic rather than holistic approaches to policy. This paradigm is seen to have significantly contributed to the current environmental, social and economic crises all over the world. However, a dual approach seems to be prudent: arguing for a different framework as well as working for change within the present framework.

Building the institutional capacities for gender justice and sustainability was also perceived as an important tool towards change: Gender mainstreaming policies and procedural rules need to be integrated into the work of all government departments, and adequate monitoring mechanisms should be established.

Gender mainstreaming and gender justice is an integral part of all dimensions of sustainable development – ecology, economy, society and institutional structures. Therefore, policy-making within all these areas need to explicitly reflect gender issues.

As laid down in numerous international agreements - declarations of political as well as legally binding instruments – women need to be increasingly involved in decision-making processes in sustainable development.

Creating opportunities for meaningful participation and increasing the effectiveness of women's involvement is an important goal. Participants raised the need to learn from the various strategies of advocacy to identify more clearly what can work toward change.


Participants raised a number of key issues, which were reflected in their recommendations for future action:

·        Develop a gender analysis of all international energy-related processes and develop a gender analysis for the Climate Change Convention process, G8 and world energy reports. Immediate steps are to organize a Women and Climate Change Forum at COP-6 (resumed) and at subsequent COPs as well as a workshop on women and energy politics during the NGO forum parallel to the G8 meeting in Genoa, July 2001;

·        Develop a North South critique of the energy industry, analysing distorting influences of the Northern-dominated energy industry on energy development in the South, based on work currently being done by NGOs and a comprehensive sustainability perspective.

·        Develop guidelines for investment policies in the energy sector from a gender perspective;

·        Seek commitment from shareholders of all Multilateral Development Banks to ensure gender mainstreaming in energy policies, programmes and projects so as to achieve sustainable energy development;

·        Analyse the missing gender analysis in NGOs and campaigns on energy and develop strategies to promote them;

·        Ensure that all energy-related research includes a gender and sustainable development analysis produced by gender-balanced teams, for example:

o      testing assumptions on gender differences regarding energy needs, use, planning and policy;

o      analysing cultural differences towards energy issues;

o      developing gender specific strategies towards behavioural changes in energy use;

o      Analysing current energy production and consumption models;

o      Analysing impacts of energy-related projects on women's and local communities' control over their land and water resources;

o      Analysing effectiveness of renewable energy policies and projects in the South;

·        Develop advocacy tools to link poverty, energy and gender;

·        The idea of an international tribunal at the Summit in 2002, organised by Women's groups and NGOs, was discussed, providing testimonies from victims of large energy projects and showcasing successful gender and sustainable development projects;

·        Request additional resources for national and regional processes to implement the above recommendations;


Participants raised a number of key issues:

Equity vs. environmental protection: Does creating gender equity mean to create the same mobility conditions for women as there are for men? Does global equity mean to close the gaps between developing and developed countries by increasing mobility in the South through introducing 'traditional', developed countries systems? The number of cars in the developed countries is increasing at a higher rate than population in the developing countries.

Therefore, addressing problems of mobility will require not only to ask how to increase access for the under-privileged but how to decrease consumption of the over-privileged.

It will also mean to significantly reduce the need to travel. Sustainable development of transport and mobility requires developing pro-active policies towards reintegration of space / time / caring work. This requires policy shifts within all government departments at national and local levels, a shift away from the dominating technological paradigms of development and of mobility which corresponds to men's rationality and men's values.

Gender mainstreaming should mean not only to bring a gender perspective into the mainstream and fit women in or adjust them to the mainstream, but imply questioning of the mainstream from a gender perspective.

Addressing gender dimensions within the framework of mobility is particularly important with regard to economic policy: the 'caring economy' needs to be integrated into economic analysis and policy-making as a core component, not an add-on. Women's unpaid caring activities form a crucial basis of what is currently regarded as 'economic activities proper', yet they need to be a starting point of analysis.

Women have different (part-time, less paid) and fewer employment options. This is largely due to  the sexual division of labour at the household level which affects their economic position and thus their access to transport.

Participants suggested the following recommendations for CSD-9:

·        The definition and understanding of mobility needs to be revised aiming to reflect women's lives and responsibilities – i.e. diverse patterns of a multitude of tasks and related trips such as transporting loads for sale; accompanying children and elderly, etc. - and enable authorities to design appropriate transport systems;

·        In general, measures are necessary which reduce transport burdens and transport expenditures of women and men while creating equitable access and ensuring women's increased opportunities and participation;

·        All transport system development should be informed by the lived experience of women; governments should integrate experts on gender-sensitive transport system planning and decision-making in their planning structures;

·        Gender Impact Assessments (GIA) should be integrated into EIAs which would contribute to creating Sustainability Impact Assessments. Sustainability Audits should include Gender Audits addressing the androcentric perspectives reflected in current policies (prioritising men's lives and needs) and Caring Economy Audits;

·        Gender budget analyses are an important tool of engendering macro-economic analysis; they should be conducted to provide information about how much women- & men-power, institutional and financial resources, and research funding goes into furthering women’s vs. men's interests regarding transport;

·        Investigate changes in transport infrastructure for all countries with a gender perspective;

·        Governments should introduce participatory, inclusive transport planning methodologies in order to be able to incorporate the social / gender divide of transport and travel needs;

·        Governments should commit themselves to guarantee sustainable, gender-sensitive transport systems. If privatisation is an option, governments have to define appropriate conditions;

·        Governments, donor agencies and International Financial Institutions (GEF, World Bank, UNDP) should support:

o      research on women’s strategies to cope with transport needs, incl. e-commerce / virtual shopping; community taxis; etc;

o      infra-structure for non-motorised transport and pedestrians;

o      initiatives providing more bicycles for women, especially in developing countries;

o      sustainable, local, small-scale transport development;

·        Governments and relevant agencies should conduct improved transport surveys, including gender relevant research and gender sensitive methodologies, including gender sensitive interviewing; analysing daily realities of female transport users, women's latent demands and their willingness to pay for better transport; documenting transport sharing models at local levels; gender sensitive stakeholder consultation;

·        Governments, relevant agencies and research institutions should provide statistics on gender differentiated mobility, including data differentiated by length of trip rather than number of trips; by reasons to travel (men have more choice than women); car drivers vs. passengers; accounting for journeys on foot which are women's; accounting for typical times of travel (rush hours, i.e. men's travel, vs. non-rush hours, i.e. school run); providing figures on health issues, e.g. transport poverty (being marooned in rural areas links with increased use of anti-depressants);

·        Governments and donor agencies should support networks addressing working on gender and sustainable transport to develop concrete strategies towards integrating sustainable, gender-equitable development into transport systems development, particularly as part of the preparations towards the Summit in 2002;

·        NGOs and women's organisations should

o      Create a formalised dialogue amongst gender & environment researchers, women’s organisations and transport NGOs;

o      Create a West/East European network on gender & transport issues, e.g. as a component of the global NGO transport network of the CSD NGO Transport Caucus.

Information For Decision-Making and Participation, incl. Indicators

Participants identified three priority areas which need further work with regard to gender considerations:

1. Science and information for decision making:

·        Due to the global digital divide there are significant knowledge gaps, particularly between North and South and between women and men. The UNDP Human Development Report 1999, for example, is outlining strategies designed to bridge these gaps. Governments and donor agencies should support projects related to these strategies;

·        Gender expertise needs to be integrated into research; scientific advisory bodies; and environmental impact assessments (EIAs); for example:

Women and women's NGOs must participate in the development of social-environmental information systems;
Social monitoring must be integrated into environmental monitoring; institutions involved in designing environmental monitoring should collaborate with social scientists and gender experts to further such integration;

·        The dominating world-view is comparably science-based and technology-oriented. While this paradigm provides an important tool in order to understand environmental, economic and social inter-linkages, it was felt that this needs to be complemented by the 'human factor', reflecting the diversity of human experiences, e.g. through using quantitative as well as qualitative indicators.

2. Linking information to people and politics

·        Equal access by women to information technology and its application in interactive decision-making for sustainable development need to be ensured;

·        Public interest groups need to be empowered by funding and capacity building to serve as intermediaries of relevant information on gender and sustainable development policies;

3. Developing indicators and indicator systems

·        Gender disaggregated data need to be generated on all levels;

·        A gender perspective should be integrated into all indicators within the CSD indicator system, where appropriate;

·        The CSD indicator system needs to take into account the research done by UNIFEM and other  relevant organisations;

·        To achieve the above, the CSD should, in consultation with the Women's caucus, conduct a gender review of the current CSD set of indicators and produce a revised version. This should build on existing analysis (see workshop background paper) and existing gender sensitive indicators designed for various areas of sustainable development;

·        Apart from gender sensitive indicators with regard to issues such as freshwater, human settlements, etc., key issues that need to be integrated into sustainability indicator systems are :

o      proportion and participation of women in decision-making bodies related to sustainable development;

o      the gender division of labour (including paid and unpaid work);

o      budget allocation to gender related issues in the field of sustainable development;

o      women's health and the environment;

·        It was suggested to hold a side event at CSD-9 on gender aspects of sustainable development indicators.

Strategies Towards Earth Summit 2002

Participants were presented with a list of thoughts and ideas on how to organize the future work before the Summit which had been collected in conversations with organisations and individuals beforehand, within the CSD Women's Caucus and at the Berlin Conference itself. Topics ranged from the need for an overall global vision as well as ensuring representation of different views from the regions; learning from previous experiences to identify successful strategies; women's involvement in government (and NGO?) reporting reviewing implementation of Agenda 21; involvement in multi-stakeholder processes towards the Summit; media work; and activities in the host country and region.

Options for developing the initial collection of ideas and thoughts into a structured strategy were discussed aiming to cluster the ideas so that responsibilities can be assigned. Women's strategies towards Earth Summit 2002 could be facilitated by a small coordinating team of experienced organisations, including the CSD NGO Women's Caucus, with a broader forum of all interested groups around the coordinating team to facilitate effective communication and concerted efforts. Task Forces for certain areas should be formed. The meeting agreed to continue discussions on the basis of the following initial structure of task forces and their proposed activities:

Advocacy task force: developing concrete, action-oriented recommendations for policy makers; ensuring that decisions include time-bound targets and monitoring mechanisms; considering women's involvement in government and NGO reporting; working on the Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet (REDEH / WEDO with a small co-ordinating team); forming issue task forces as teams with expertise on the issues, tapping into existing issue specific networks; ensuring women's involvement in multi-stakeholder processes towards the Summit; introducing a multi-stakeholder approach to selected areas of our work; disseminating information & networking.

Parallel event task force: working on the Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet; presenting work on women & Local Agenda 21 (WEDO with ICLEI); disseminating information & networking.

Host country task force: possibly to be created by host country women's networks (discussions underway); organisations outside South Africa to support women's organisations in SA & the region in their preparations upon request; ensuring that women in the host country & region benefit from the Summit being held in SA; lobbying Northern governments to support South Africa, other African countries and developing countries in general in their efforts to prepare for the Summit, incl. women's organisations & NGOs.

Media & communication task force: developing an effective media strategy to ensure clear communication and increased understanding of gender issues; sharing media activities & products; using women's media to provide information & skills training material for women to be effective in the process

Resource task force: sharing information about possible funding sources; joint fund raising depending on possible joint efforts

Each of the task forces should look into ways to learn from previous experiences and successful strategies. Each of the task forces should work to ensure a global approach, networking and transparency and at the same time ensure appropriate reflection of regional specifics.

The conference concluded that this initial structure should be further developed by WEDO and UNED Forum who co-coordinate the women's caucus at this point. Further developments of the strategy shall include information about who is doing what, and shall be published via the women's caucus list serve and all conference participants' networks  to ensure transparency, generate opportunities for collaboration and allow for input and involvement from all interested organisations.

Discussions also addressed the pro's and con's of operating separately as women's groups or focus on working within the NGO activities, including with regard to events being held around the Summit.

It was suggested that the CSD Women's Caucus should convene joint meetings with other NGO caucuses, such as energy and transport, to ensure gender mainstreaming of their work. Finally, conference participants agreed to continue their networking and should aim to become active participants in existing NGO networks on these issues.

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