COP26: the UK plots £165m funding boost for schemes tackling gender inequality and climate change

As the focus of the COP26 Climate Summit today turns to 'science, innovation, and gender', the UK has announced plans to spend £165m on projects around the world that aim to tackle gender inequality while at the same time addressing climate change.

The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) confirmed this morning that it will spend £120m on schemes that build resilience, prevent pollution, protect biodiversity, boost renewable energy, and better manage waste in Bangladesh, while also supporting women's leadership and access to finance, education, and skills.

It also said it will allocate £45m from the £274m Climate Action for a Resilient Asia program that was unveiled yesterday towards empowering local communities and grassroots women's groups in Asia and the Pacific to challenge gender inequalities and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

In addition, the government has announced it is working with the European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on a new 2X Climate Finance Taskforce, which will support the finance community to make climate-related investments that close gender gaps across different sectors. The project is being led by CDC, the UK's development finance bank, and will see the partners launch a toolkit for enabling gender-smart finance.

The combination of lower average incomes and women's role as primary caregivers means women and girls typically bear the brunt of extreme weather events and are statistically more vulnerable to the food, energy, and water shortages caused by a changing climate.

But despite women's position on the climate frontline, persisting structural inequalities mean women's voices and opinions are often side-lined in discussions and negotiations on climate, energy, and environment issues, at the level of both international negotiations and local delivery.