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As the primary providers of water, food and energy at the household and community levels, women in rural settings are generally highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and are therefore particularly vulnerable to changes in the availability and quality of these resources during and after conflict.
This has important implications for community welfare in peacebuilding settings, where up to 40% of households are female-headed. At the same time, conflict often leads both women and men to adopt coping strategies that challenge traditional gender norms. To meet the needs of their households and compensate for loss of revenue usually provided by male family members, women may be required to assume new or expanded natural resource management roles in their communities. In the aftermath of conflict, capitalizing on these shifting roles and investing in women’s productive capacity can contribute to breaking down existing barriers to women’s political and economic empowerment, and to enhancing women’s productivity in sectors that are critical to community revitalization and recovery.
In November 2013, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) published the joint policy report Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential. As the first consolidated analysis of an under-studied yet complex nexus of issues, the report reviewed key issues across three main categories of resources, including land, renewable resources and extractive resources. The report’s main findings can be summarized as follows:
• Coupled with gender discrimination, conflict-related changes to natural resource access, use and control can significantly increase women’s vulnerability and undermine their recovery;
• Lack of access and rights to land lie at the heart of women’s poverty and exclusion in conflict and postconflict countries, limiting their ability to benefit equally from peacebuilding processes and to invest in community welfare;
• Failure to recognize the specific natural resource-related challenges and opportunities for women in conflict-affected settings can perpetuate discrimination and exacerbate inequality in the peacebuilding period; and
• In the peacebuilding period, natural resource management provides a key entry point for enhancing women’s empowerment by capitalizing on shifting gender roles and investing in women’s productive capacity.
Based on this analysis, the report recommended a number of entry points and strategies for peacebuilding practitioners to address risks and opportunities related to women and natural resource management, focusing on means to enhance political participation, improve protection and increase opportunities for economic empowerment at the individual, community and structural levels.
This Joint Programme, which consolidates the strong partnership between UNEP, UN Women, UNDP and PBSO, aims to operationalize these recommendations by testing and validating a range of gender-responsive approaches to natural resource management in conflict-affected settings, in order to catalyze uptake, replication and upscaling of such approaches within peacebuilding and development programming. This will be achieved through the following three sets of activities:
1. Joint pilot projects at country level: Joint pilot interventions will be conducted in at least three conflictaffected countries to test and document a range of gender-responsive approaches to natural resource management. Focusing interventions in one or more of the following three areas – (i) livelihoods, income generation and reintegration, (ii) democratic governance, and (iii) protection and access to justice – the pilot projects will comprise both “upstream” (e.g. policy enhancement and capacity-building of government/legislative officials at national and sub-national levels) and “downstream” interventions (i.e. creating concrete resilience-building results for conflict-affected communities in relation with the thematic areas covered by the initiative). Each pilot will last approximately 12 months, and will have an indicative budget of USD 300,000 to USD 1,000,000, depending on the scope of the intervention and country context. In total, two-thirds of the funding under this Joint Programme will be dedicated to this field component.
2. Development of tools: Operational lessons and best practice from the pilot interventions will be consolidated and distilled into a set of tools that will help UN country programmes and other international and national actors to overcome operational constraints that have hindered genderresponsive programming on natural resource management and peacebuilding, and will promote uptake of such approaches at a larger scale. These tools will include a practical programming guide, a model results framework, online and in-person training modules, an advisory expert group and a web-based platform that will serve as a repository for resources as well as a mechanism for documenting and exchanging experiences and best practices. In parallel, additional research will be conducted on areas not covered in the 2013 joint policy report, which will help fill remaining analytical gaps and complete the programme guidance.
3. Advocacy and outreach: This Joint Programme will also dedicate critical attention to creating the conditions – or drivers – for uptake through targeted advocacy and outreach efforts at several levels, including member states and the private sector, as well as through the development of compelling outreach tools, such as infographics, documentaries and storytelling to support advocates to engage with the media to challenge the prevailing narrative on gender issues in conflict-affected contexts and highlight positive examples of empowerment through natural resource management interventions.
This Joint Programme’s results are predicated on the strong partnership between UNEP, UN Women, UNDP and PBSO, which not only ensures that the necessary expertise on the different dimensions of the nexus – peacebuilding, gender equality and women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability and natural resource management, livelihoods and economic recovery – is available, but also allows for truly integrated approaches to be designed and implemented.
Under this Joint Programme, strategic direction, oversight and decision-making on core programmatic and budgetary matters, including resource allocation, are the responsibility of a Joint Programme Steering Committee comprised of senior representatives of all four partner organizations, and representatives of donor governments/entities. Day-to-day management and coordination of programmatic activities is the responsibility of the Convening Agency. This role is entrusted to UNEP, through its Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch. In addition, each partner will have specific individual roles and responsibilities for implementation, advocacy and outreach, and for leveraging existing partnerships and networks to support programme implementation and uptake of results, as well as resource mobilization.
Funding raised for this programme is to be channeled into a single Joint Programme Account, which is administered by the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) Office. Funds will be allocated by the Joint Steering Committee to each implementing organization in accordance with Annual Workplans to finance agreed activities. Each organization will assume full programmatic and financial responsibility and accountability for the funds disbursed to them, and will use their respective rules and regulations in the implementing process with partners and counterparts. As a strategic partner, PBSO will not receive funds through this JP and will not implement country-level activities, but will actively support the JP through strategic advice and expertise.
Participating Organizations are required to submit final year-end expenditures by April 30 in the following year; Interim expenditure figures are submitted on a voluntary basis and therefore current year figures are not final until the year-end expenditures have been submitted.
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