Since the adoption of the international convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and the Beijing platform for Action, women have made significant strides in achieving equality in health, education and employment in the Arab region. In general, "Gender gaps have narrowed considerably in several key areas, but the region continues to rank poorly by international standards’’. Moreover, incidence of poverty among female-headed household in several Arab countries are higher than the rate among male headed-household, which means poverty is widespread among households headed by females. Indeed, the feminization of poverty in the Arab region is primarily due to the fact that women face legal, structural and attitudinal barriers that prevent them from having equal access or control over various resources needed for production, including natural resources. In rural areas, where access of women to land and non-land resources remains challenging, closing the gender gap for poverty alleviation is a must and should benefit from the momentum of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Furthermore, women are the custodian of natural assets and their productive functions, including farming lands, forests, watersheds, genetic pools, fisheries. Their crucial role in conserving biodiversity for their sustainable use is acknowledged by the international law. The traditional knowledge of women related to genetic resources for food and agriculture and its contribution to ensure livelihoods and achieve food security should be recognized as full part of arrangements under the international and national regimes of access and benefit sharing from genetic resources. This target was reiterated in the 2030 Agenda under goal 15 regardless gender issues.
Moreover, access to other natural assets for production and consumption poses particularly problem with regard to the paradox of abundance and scarcity that are shaping the status of natural resources in the Arab region, in addition to the heavy patriarchal legacy that prevent women from tapping their economic potential for the benefit of their families, communities and countries. The adverse impacts of climate change and natural disasters are threatening ecosystems and their related services and consequently intensifying the socio-economic vulnerabilities of women and men alike. The high risk exposure of women to those heightened dangers and casualties is well-known but needs more evidence through accurate, reliable and disaggregated data for the formulation of gender-responsive natural resources policies that are to enhance the resilience of women and local communities to those impacts.
On the other side, armed conflicts in the Arab region, are affecting men and women differently. The socio-economic vulnerabilities of women are, indeed, exacerbated by the extreme fragility of local economies,the destruction of natural resources base, the degradation of land and livestock in addition to human displacements. As a consequence to the masculinization of armed conflicts and the recruitment of men by belligerents, women become main actors of natural resources management in their localities of origin. Population dynamics and human displacements imposed by conflicts make them the first responsible for ensuring livelihoods within hosting communities or refugee camps. Under failed states, protracted conflicts and serious human security threats, uncertainty to ensure the basic needs for populations and obstacles to deliver on public services impose the philanthropic organizations’ intervention and the humanitarian aid as the unique window of opportunity for endurance and survival at the local level.
The Beijing platform for Action has already recognized that ‘’environmental conditions have a different impacts on the lives of women and men due to existing gender inequality. It also stresses that women’s role in sustainable development is hampered by unequal access to economic resources, information and technology, and limited participation in policy formulation and decision-making in natural resources and environment management’’. The new Agenda reiterated the need for “ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere” and recalled for verifying whether ‘’legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex” (Indicators 5.1.1). Equality of opportunities is at the heart of inclusive green economy ‘’ that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities; It is low carbon, resources efficient and socially inclusive’’. It is also an alternative to today dominant economic model with the ambition to leaving no one behind by combating exclusion and alleviating poverty. However, green economy has been implicitly acknowledged under the Agenda which reaffirmed the Rio+20 outcome document: ‘’The Future we want’’ . It is also framed under goal 12 on Sustainable Production and Consumption Patterns and other related goals as it is mentioned in the outcome document of New York Summit10 about the integrated and indivisible nature of the new Agenda that is to ‘’balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.’’
Localizing the 2030 Agenda, that is also transformative in nature, seems to be a sine qua non condition to the transition to inclusive green economy and poverty alleviation, but needs to be deployed beyond the urban agenda pursuits to embrace rural space. Gendered dimensions of the 2030 Agenda are key to reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcity at the local level. For this research, those dimensions as reflected in goal 5 and related natural resources goals and targets of the new Agenda are considered as a driving force for the transition to green growth at the local level. This latter refers to all economic and governance units that operate at the sub-national levels. ‘’Local areas encompass places where people live and work ranging from rural communities to metropolitan areas and green activities are those associated with researches, technologies and industries, which are directly geared to improve environmental outcomes, protect natural resources, reduce pollutions and consequently contribute to human well-being and achieve social cohesion and equity’’.
Furthermore, green economy solutions for enhancing resilience of internally displaced people and refugees need to be explored at the local level especially with regard to the Doha Declaration on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Arab region which reconsiders the local development in making concrete the goals and targets of the new Agenda. In this contribution, the natural resources base of local economies is considered under the natural capital approach, which is underpinning the transition to the alternative economic model of Local Green Development with a special focus on the different intangible forms of the wealth of nations. These forms are enabling conditions for the transition to the new economy.
To be transformative under this insightful approach, the new agenda should be of guidance for the national planning systems, including the adoption of gender responsive natural resources policies, as well as gender mainstreaming into the different policy making levels: projects, programs, sectoral strategies, economic and social plans, and sustainable development strategies. In their notes to the regional meeting on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, Arab Civil Societies Organizations representatives called for reconsidering the development model and emphasized that ‘’achieving sustainable development and meeting the Agenda’s requirements require a change of the current development model, the options, and the economic and social policies, so as not be limited to the concept of economic growth and rely on the principles of justice and equality’’.
Moreover, the international community, while recognizing that each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, exhorted civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations to play an active role in the implementation of the Agenda, on the same footing as private sector actors, ranging from mico-entreprises to cooperatives to multinationals,’’. “Regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven, should draw on contributions from indigenous peoples, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders, in line with national circumstances, policies and priorities”. At the regional level, the Muscat Declaration ‘’Towards the achievement of gender justice in the Arab region’’, as adopted by the 7th session of ESCWA Women Committee, highlighted the close link between gender justice and social justice and acknowledged the 2030 Agenda “as an integrated development plan driving progress, development, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the Arab region’’ and welcomed ‘the adoption of the Tunis Declaration on Social Justice in the Arab Region at the twenty-eighth ESCWA ministerial session as a political commitment that promotes policies aimed at achieving justice as a primary goal of development policy’’. The committee ‘’considered the expected roles of civil society and invaluable national women machineries in implementing the Goals, and of parliaments in holding those machineries accountable and reviewing their work.’’, and called for taking into account proposals from member states and civil society in preparing the regional strategy on women, peace and security, and its related action plan.
However, it is unfortunate that the Declaration didn’t endorse the option of its preparatory document, to undertake national researches, with view of identifying the most critical targets for sustainable development and gender equality and providing baseline for review of future efforts “taking into consideration views from various stakeholders, especially civil society, women’s organizations, and the private sector through the organization of multi-stakeholder national consultations’’. The same document, underscored in its annex goal 5 as the goal entirely dedicated to gender justice to be added to goals of main reference to women and Girls in SDGs. Most of them provide a special focus on natural resources: Goal 1, 2, 6,8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17. Nonetheless, it overlooked some gender-related goals from natural resources perspective, for which gender terminology is missing such as goals 14 and 15. Mutual supportiveness between these goals on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, goal 1 and goal 5, on one hand; and the indivisible and integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda, on the other hand, are indeed convincing arguments to integrate such goals and their targets for monitoring progress on the gendered dimensions of the Agenda, even though their indicators are not disaggregated by sex in accordance to the current state of art.
It is noteworthy to mention that the reading of the current status of gender inequality regarding the access to natural resources and the local resilience to the adverse impacts of environmental risks and those inherent to conflicts on livelihoods and human security need to be, to the maximum extent possible, evidence-based and should be grounded in accurate, relevant, reliable and comparable data. This research reveals a huge data gap: the availability of data from national and international sources poses particularly problem. Qualitative analysis is highly needed in order to identify the interlinkages between gender, natural resources and local development.
Without doubt, there is a room for continuous improvements based on lessons learned from CSOs success stories, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) valuable feedback from the ground and activists’ field experiences rooted in people’s daily lives against the backdrop of the respective roles of men and women in natural resources management. This research shows that several indicators lack today metadata for calculation and methodologies should be developed by the specialized international organizations for monitoring SDGs. CSOs can thus be a true power of proposal for closing the gender data gap, the formulation of gender sensitive public policies and for an enhanced accountability on natural resources with regard to the gendered dimensions of the 2030 Agenda.
A human rights based approach to sustainable development is key for monitoring progress on the gendered dimensions of the 2030 Agenda. To be effective, this approach should tackle the different prohibitive grounds of discrimination for further progress on gender equality at the country level and requires the design of a dashboard for monitoring the gendered dimensions of the 2030 Agenda. The static elements of SDGs involving gender-related goals and targets and their indicators, in addition to the evolving issues such as data disaggregation and Metadata for calculation, binding and non binding commitments under international law and platforms are all components of the proposed dashboard that could first serve the determination of national baselines on the gendered dimensions of the Agenda and their integration into the national planning system beyond the imposed donors’ safeguards and rules.
From a civil society perspective, this report is envisioning to analyze the gendered dimensions of the 2030 Agenda with regard to natural resources management and their transformative nature for social change and economic transition. This will be explored as way forward for tackling persistent disparities that exist in ownership, and control over economic wealth, access to resources and markets that hamper sustainable development goals pursuit. Topping the social and economic inequalities, gender inequality between and within Arab countries, which has profound and complex connection with violence, conflicts and poverty, remains the most pressing developmental issues in the Arab region. This will entail a breakthrough in terms of innovative policies for applying multi-stakeholder approaches, adapting SDGs to national, sub-national and local contexts, creating horizontal policy coherence by breaking silos and vertical policy coherence by glocalizing the Agenda.
This report is intended to be evidence-based on the current status of natural resources through gender lenses in reference to the aspiring and inspiring 2030 Agenda goals and targets. It will also provide qualitative information on this status at the country level in the Arab region. The potential of Civil Society Organizations for accelerating the pace for the implementation of the Agenda will be highlighted. The Third Sector Organizations’ role to trigger the process for economic transition to achieve social justice at the country level needs to be especially emphasized in the horizon 2030. For this purpose, the report will be structured around two main ideas entailing way forward for closing the gender gap in natural resources management under the 2030 Agenda: Chapter II; and the gender justice as a driving force for the transition to Green Local Development: Chapter III. Chapter I will be delving into the key concepts and the methodological framework for Analysis.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.