The OPEC Fund Annual Award for Development (AAD) honors outstanding contributions to sustainable development with a US$100,000 prize. Established in 2006, the award annually recognizes a different theme of particular relevance to global development.
Theme – Gender Equality and Climate Action
Women and girls are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, and gender equality is critical to mitigate climate impacts: Women’s inclusion in climate discussions, as well as in planning and decision making, is also expected to improve outcomes of climate action.
At the halfway point to 2030, the world is not on track to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While there has been progress, for example on SDG 7 – Clean and Affordable Energy, overlapping global crises such climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity have impacted the rate of progress, with women often bearing additional burdens.
Gender equality has its own dedicated goal within the 2030 Agenda, SDG 5. A further 10 SDGs present gender-specific benchmarks, underlining the important links between women’s empowerment and sustainable development from employment to education to health.
There is strong evidence of the synergies between gender equality, on the one hand and sustainable development, on the other. For example, when women are actively involved in public administration and decision-making, public resources are more likely to be invested in SDG priority sectors. Enhanced access of women to, and control over, agricultural assets and productive resources contributes to achieving food security and sustainable livelihoods (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2011). Access to decent work and regular income in the hands of women, for example, contributes not only to poverty reduction (SDG 1) but also supports better education, health and nutrition outcomes for women and girls and those who depend on them (SDGs 2, 3 and 4).
When safe drinking water is not available on premises, the burden of water collection and treatment largely falls on women and girls, who have to allocate significant amounts of time at the expense of other activities such as paid work and education. Survey data for 61 countries show that in 80 percent of households without access to water on premises, women and girls are responsible for water collection.
In the same vein, and besides the adverse health effects associated with indoor air pollution, women and girls spend a significant amount of time (18 hours a week on average) collecting fuel for cooking and heating, again at the expense of other activities. In this regard, “and as primary energy managers in households, they can play a pivotal role in the successful transition to sustainable energy for all” (Why Gender Equality Matters across all SDGs, UNWOMEN Report, 2018).
Heavily dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood, poor women living in rural areas are disproportionately affected by climate change, in particular in Asia and Africa where agriculture remains a dominant economic activity. Due to their rather limited access to land, credit and essential inputs such as fertilizers, irrigation, technology, information and markets, climate change adaptation and mitigation practices requiring the use of technical advances on heat-resistant and water-conserving crop varieties are also less likely to reach them.
In recognition of the central role of women in the international development agenda, the OPEC Fund will present its 2023 AAD to a project partner working on the crossroads of gender equality, development and climate action. Of particular interest are plausible contributions toward SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Deadline to submit AAD nominations is May 12, 2023.