The correlation between gender, climate change and population growth

Kenyan woman working on field

On 11 July we observed World Population Day, an annual event that focuses attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. The theme of this important day was the deepening inequalities and vulnerabilities that exist particularly for women and girls.

The world’s population is increasing more than ever before and is projected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, with most of this growth in developing countries. Sadly, it will be the same countries that will be most adversely affected by the climate change crisis. While the principal cause of climate change is high consumption in developed countries, its consequences will be greatest on people in the developing world. Already, we can see its impacts are being felt by people and nature across the globe.

The impacts of climate change on women

Also, across societies, the impacts of climate change affects women and men differently. In the developing world, women are often responsible for gathering and producing food, collecting water and sourcing fuel for heating and cooking. With climate change, these tasks are becoming more difficult due to extreme weather. Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods have a greater impact on the poor and most vulnerable – and 70% of the world’s poor are women.

Climate change, exponential population growth and gender

There is a strong link between climate change, exponential population growth and gender. With more people on the planet, it affects the Earth's ability to withstand climate change and absorb emissions. For example, deforestation as land is converted for agricultural use to feed a growing human population. Already, we can see its impacts are being felt by people and nature across the globe.

It is clear is that there is an urgent need for investment to enable vulnerable communities and ecosystems to adapt to climate change. While significant funding is currently going to mitigation measures, adaption does not receive the same level of investment.

As an organisation SNV has the goal of leaving no one behind and through our programmes we are helping communities in the regions affected, through adaptation (reducing vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change) and mitigation (reducing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change) while ensuring that women are seen as agents of change. It is clear, that despite women being disproportionately affected by climate change, they play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation and are often an underused resource in the response.

The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development which is a partnership between WWF, CFM, FMO aims to help communities and women to develop resilience through climate migration and adaptation measures. All activities that the DFCD undertakes needs to maximise impact on Sustainable Development goal 5 (SDG5) which focuses on gender equality.

About the DFCD

The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD) enables private sector investment in projects aimed at climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. The DFCD focuses on several high impact investment themes, including climate-resilient water systems, water management and freshwater ecosystems, forestry, climate-smart agriculture and food security, and restoration of ecosystems to improve the wellbeing, economic prospects, and livelihoods of vulnerable groups – particularly women and youths in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

SNV as part of the DFCD’s Origination Facility we support promising concrete business investment project ideas with early-stage development. This is done through a three-stage process, involving technical Assistance and non-reimbursable investments, to arrive at a bankable investment project to be considered access to the high-risk investment by the DFCD investment facilities.

As per the projection estimates from the UN, every year, nearly 83 million people are added to the rapidly growing worldwide population. This rate of growth will take its toll on the already stretched planet. In addition, more people would mean higher requirement of resources, which would severely impact the biodiversity and increase the carbon emissions, further intensifying climate change and global warming.

Unfortunately, climate change is real and happening now and it is becoming increasingly unlikely that we will be able to turn back the clock  on the damage that has been done. What we can do is help those most affected to live with this new reality by adapting to this new normal and try to slow down its effects. Also, we need to ensure that women have a voice in the debate.

To learn more about this project please visit the DFCD website.