Gender / Implementation of climate finance / Transparency

Participation, gender, human rights? An analysis of qualitative aspects of Germany’s climate finance

Does climate finance contribute to sustainable development? © C. Krackhardt, Brot für die Welt

To what degree does Germany’s climate finance take into account civil-society involvement, human rights, gender and a focus on the most vulnerable groups? An analysis published on the German climate finance website examines this question.

German climate finance should not only increase in scope, but also contribute to a sustainable and just development. To achieve this, it needs social and human rights-based criteria as an integral part of project planning and implementation. Based on a normative framework for public climate finance developed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation (Eine Frage von Prinzipien), a number of aspects for the present analysis were selected and the projects of the traditional bilateral cooperation (financial and technical) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) from 2010 to 2012 were extracted from the project database of this website (available in German only). The projects were analyzed using publicly available project descriptions and websites to determine the extent to which these aspects are explicitly stated in the objectives and measures of the projects.

Despite the limitations arising from the broad variety of project types and information content of the project descriptions, a number of insights can be gained from the analysis.


Figure 1: Analysis results by finance instrument

Based on the analysis of project descriptions, civil society involvement is strongest overall, while the focus on the most vulnerable groups is most pronounced in adaptation projects and project descriptions provide the most information on these topics. The incorporation of gender as an crosscutting issue and the protection and promotion of human rights as an explicit aim of the projects is, however, much less pronounced in the analyzed projects. Furthermore, both criteria receive significantly more representation in BMZ projects than in those supported by the ICI (see Fig. 1).

Figure 2: Analysis results by sector

An evaluation of the results according to individual sectors (see Fig. 2) shows that there is a large difference in the involvement of civil society. This is integrated in only a third of the mitigation projects, while the participation of local communities and/or local and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can be distinguished in two thirds of the adaptation and forest conservation/REDD+ projects. Measures related to mitigation also give the least consideration to gender issues and only rarely explicitly state the protection and promotion of human rights among their goals and measures. Also, only very few forest protection / REDD+ projects mention free prior and informed consent (FPIC) as an international human rights standard as the approach explicitly followed by the projects.

Anchoring human rights-based aspects more solidly in German climate finance would therefore require:

  • Participation of local communities and civil society organizations should be taken much more into account in planning and monitoring. The participation of the affected communities is essential, and this must also become a consistent element in emission mitigation projects in the energy and technology sectors. In this way, project planning can adequately consider the needs of the population and ensure that disadvantaged groups benefit also from the measures.
  • Gender sensitization and mainstreaming is also essential for energy projects that focus on technology cooperation and policy advice. The inclusion of women in project activities and decision-making processes must be strengthened. This also applies in projects that work with indigenous communities.
  • The protection and promotion of human rights must be given more attention. In this regard, climate and biodiversity projects should not only be set in the context of international environmental agreements, but also the human rights commitments of the German government. Forest conservation/REDD+ projects must establish free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as an international human rights standard for the involvement of local and indigenous communities. Energy projects must be reviewed from a human rights perspective, particularly to ensure that marginalized groups are not excluded or discriminated.
  • The focus on the most vulnerable groups must be further strengthened in adaptation projects and also established in projects with a biodiversity focus.

In addition to the specific findings, the analysis further showed that not for all projects in the database there is public information, despite efforts to increase the publication of project descriptions which even the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) recently joined. While the ICI posts descriptions of its projects on its website, public information is available for only around half of the projects funded by the BMZ. The present analysis therefore once again highlights the need for greater transparency in German climate finance.

The aspects selected here do not allow a comprehensive assessment of the quality of projects funded by climate finance from a development policy perspective. In the course of expanding this qualitative analysis, we are working on further criteria related to matters such as the climate relevance of funded measures and their contribution to poverty reduction. At present, however, it shows that greater attention is required for human rights aspects, particularly for projects with a climate and biodiversity focus. By consistently integrating human rights-based criteria for climate finance measures and the projects they support, the German government can make an important contribution to improving the quality of German and international climate finance.

Christine Lottje