German climate finance / Adaptation

Punching below its weight: Monitoring Germany’s support for adaptation and gender equality

 Ahead of the 23rd UN climate negotiations taking place on behalf of Fiji in Bonn from November 6th until 17th, CARE participated in one of the largest climate marches Germany has ever seen. More than 10,000 people were calling on world leaders for more climate protection and gender equality. “Climate change is already eliminating progress in fighting against poverty. With marching in Bonn we are emphasizing that climate protection needs to start now. We want the governments in Bonn to agree on measures which can tackle climate change. All of us must act stronger together for climate action”, says Sven Harmeling, Global Policy Lead, Climate Change and Resilience. Photo: CARE/Christoph Heinrich

The CARE report summarizes the results for all G7 countries.

Providing financial support for adaptation to vulnerable developing countries is a core obligation for developed countries, and enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, there is just over a year before the 2020 deadline for developed countries to mobilize $100 billion per year to address the needs of developing countries in confronting climate change, a commitment which is based on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and has been reaffirmed through the Paris Agreement and related decisions. Gender inequality is a key driver of vulnerability to climate change impacts and other stressors. Investing in adaptation can promote gender equality, economic growth and stability, in line with the Paris Agreement’s Article 7.5 which all governments agreed to.

CARE has recently published a report which, for the first time, presents a comprehensive analysis of the finance provided by the G7 group, as the main causers of climate change and main providers of climate finance, to developing countries for climate change adaptation and to what extent it promotes gender equality. This analysis is based on the over 16,000 projects in the OECD database supported by the G7 in 2013-2016. The results show that there is an urgent need to increase financial support for climate change adaptation with much stronger gender equality efforts.

The results for Germany on adaptation finance and gender equality

A positive result is that Germany has one of the highest total amounts of funding allocated to adaptation projects which promote gender equality, and ranks high, overall, regarding the number of projects supported with gender equality objectives (see figure 1). US (74%), Canada (71%), and Germany (61%) paid the most attention to gender equality (2013-2016 average, funding amount) within projects counted as adaptation. Germany, UK, US, and EU institutions also had a higher number of adaptation projects including gender equality compared to the 4-year average. However, Germany is the only country which in 2016 funded adaptation projects coded with a gender equality objective with a smaller amount than its 2013-2016 average. In 2014, Germany adopted a cross-sectoral strategy for its development policy, promoting the commitment to “apply a gender perspective to all measures and at all political levels.” A recent study of Germany’s adaptation finance concluded however that there are still significant gaps in integrating gender.


OECD Markers – a good tool for measuring support for gender and adaptation?

The OECD tracks aid in support of gender equality and women’s rights using the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) gender equality policy marker – a qualitative statistical tool to record aid activities that target gender equality as a policy objective. The gender equality policy marker is used by DAC members as part of the annual reporting of their aid activities to the DAC to indicate whether each aid activity targets gender equality as a policy objective.

Table 1: Description of the OECD adaptation and gender equality policy marker (based on OECD database)

OECD Adaptation Marker

OECD Gender Equality Policy Marker

(Marker 2)

When the adaptation objective is explicitly stated as fundamental in the design of, or the motivation for, the activity. Promoting the adaptation objective will thus be stated in the activity documentation as one of the principal reasons for undertaking it. In other words, the activity would not have been funded (or designed that way) but for that objective.

Gender equality is the main objective of the project/programme and is fundamental to its design and expected results. The project/programme would not have been undertaken without this objective.

(Marker 1

When the adaptation objective is explicitly stated but it is not the fundamental driver or motivation for undertaking the activity. Instead,
the activity has other prime objectives but has been formulated or adjusted to help meet the relevant climate concerns.

Gender equality is an important and deliberate
objective, but not the principal reason for
undertaking the project/programme.

(Marker 0)

The activity was examined but found not to target the adaptation objective in any significant way.

The project/programme has been screened against the gender marker but has not been found to target gender equality.


Per se the OECD markers are not a tool to evaluate the good practice of such projects, but focuses on whether the projects coded pursue those objectives. As stated above, the experience from other analyses of OECD data is that a closer look is necessary. If there is only a title or two-line description for a project, it is hard to judge to what extent it meets the coded objectives. By contrast, if a project is marked both adaptation 2 and gender 2, and the short description mentions neither climate change adaptation nor gender equality (or related concepts), it suggests that the project may be given a higher significance for these issues than seems to be justified, which is also called “over-coding”. A lower coding (e.g. 1) might be more appropriate.

The full report also provides more detail on CARE’s perspective on adaptation good practice and gender equality good practice, based on our own program experience.

Overreporting of adaptation finance

A concerning result of the study is that the OECD marker numbers do not show a clear trend of increased funding for adaptation. The opposite is true for various countries. Germany, along with France, Italy, and the UK decreased their adaptation funding in 2016, after COP21, compared to the 2015 level. At least, they stayed above the 2014 levels. But 2016 should be above 2015 levels for all countries. Japan’s contributions in 2016 is even below the 2013 level. Germany’s adaptation funding in 2016 was significantly lower than 50% of all OECD-accounted climate finance.

In addition, different figures of analysis over the last years point to a serious overreporting of adaptation finance. Oxfam estimated that only 20-50% of the finance reported as climate finance is sufficiently relevant to “deserve” this label. This adds to the findings of other analyses that have also found a significant level of overcoding resulting in de facto lower levels of adaptation support.21 Among the reasons for this over-coding, and the difficulty of assessing the appropriateness of the coding provided by donors, is incomplete information – even in the official OECD data tables, donors provide differing levels of detail on the projects’ objectives and activities.

Reviewing Germany funding shows that only one of the German-funded projects (the 5th largest) claiming to meet both the gender-2 and adaptation-2 marker reveals an explicit focus on women and gender equality, which is the 2015, USD 0.672 million project aimed at promoting the economic empowerment of rural women farmers and the 6th largest project explicitly aims at building adaptive capacities to climate change. Of the three of the four projects with higher funding amounts take place in the area of agriculture and food security, only one project’s description mentions specifically climate change. Therefore, it must be assumed that at least some of Germany’s projects are over-coded.


Based on the analysis CARE recommends that overall G7 countries, including Germany:

  1. must step up public finance for adaptation in developing countries to be at least 3 times 2016 levels by 2020. They must also achieve a 50/50 balance between adaptation and mitigation finance, in particular, by increasing support for projects with the principal adaptation objective (marker 2). Next steps towards these objectives should be announced at relevant G7 meetings and at COP24.
  2. should further increase efforts to promote gender equality through their bilateral climate finance (and well as in multilateral mechanisms) in a recipient-driven manner, so that by 2020 at least 20% of the projects coded as adaptation pursue gender equality as a principal objective (marker 2) and at least 80% as a significant objective (marker 1).
  3. should apply a more rigorous coding, where projects marked 2 clearly address the objectives of climate change adaptation and gender equality, respectively. This should also be reflected through more detailed project descriptions
  4. must increase support for the implementation of the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan adopted at COP23 to promote good quality adaptation and gender equality approaches, particularly through capacity support for integrating gender equality in adaptation actions.

Find the full report on:

Sven Harmeling / CARE