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Background

In March 2006, the CBD Executive Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf appointed a Gender Focal Point in line with a series of internal mandates within the UN system calling for gender equality and equity and the mainstreaming of gender issues within all UN processes: Secretary General’s Bulletin ST/SGB/1999/19, as well as the TORs for the departmental focal points for Women in the UN Secretariat (2004); the Substantive Sessions of ECOSOC (2004 and 2005); the Outcome of the 2005 World Summit (A/RES/60/1, paragraphs 58,59 and 116); ECOSOC Resolution 2005/31; Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000) as well as the Security Council Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2005/52. In highlighting the importance of the role played by women the mandates also note that gender is not only a women’s issue but that of girls and boys, and men and women.

The Executive Secretary’s decision also falls in line with that of UNEP’s Governing Council at its 23rd session in 2005, in its adoption of decision 23/11 on Gender Equality in the Field of Environment. This decision called upon Governments and UNEP itself to mainstream gender in their environmental policies and programmes, to assess the effects on women of environmental policies, and to integrate further gender equality and environmental considerations into their work.

In addition, paragraph 13 of the CBD text of 1992, Preamble, recognizes “the vital role that women play in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and affirming the need for the full participation of women at all levels of policy making and implementation for biological diversity conservation,” and, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) mentions women’s practices, knowledge, and gender roles in food production.

The Executive Secretary has also placed great importance on the fact that gender equality and equity are a prerequisite to poverty eradication and sustainable development. The livelihoods of rural and indigenous peoples and those of communities living in poverty are often closely tied to use and conservation of biodiversity. In these communities, women play a leading role in caring for their families and communities, in sharing their intellectual and social capital, and in protecting and managing biodiversity resources. In many societies, women as well as men are agents of change, but their contributions do not receive equal recognition. Gender equality between women and men has a cumulative effect of improved biodiversity management and protection and poverty alleviation for communities.

The importance of gender mainstreaming in environmental/biodiversity conservation and poverty eradication policies is also recognized in a wide range of global agreements, including, but not limited to, chapter 24 of Agenda 21 (UNCED 1992), the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002); paragraph K of the Beijing Platform for Action (4th World Conference on Women 1995); the World Conference on Human Rights (1993); the Millennium Declaration (2000); as well as the requirements and agreements stated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

In light of the above, the Secretariat of the CBD in collaboration with the Senior Gender Advisor at IUCN developed a Gender Plan of Action. The Plan of Action was welcomed by the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting in Bonn, in May 2008 through its decision IX/24. The Plan of Action defines the role that the CBD Secretariat will play in stimulating and facilitating efforts, both in-house and with partners at the national, regional and global levels, to overcome constraints and take advantage of opportunities to promote gender equality and equity.

The Plan is the Secretariats and the Conventions continuing response to global commitments of the last decades as well as recommendations from international fora and in compliance with major mandates within the UN system. It is also a reflection of the increasing awareness that gender equality and women¹s empowerment are important prerequisites for environmental conservation and sustainable development. It is also a commitment from the Convention in recognizing and promoting the integral yet, distinctive roles that women and men play in conserving, celebrating and sharing biodiversity.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme