The significant environmental challenges of our time can only be confronted though the meaningful participation of both men and women. Consideration of gender and environment issues will be crucial to our ability to achieve a just and sustainable future, to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, and to achieving 50-50 gender equality by 2030.
Around the world, men and women have different relationships to the environment, and environmental changes affect the lives of men and women differently. In addition to existing gender differences, dynamics and inequalities, adverse impacts can be aggravated by various factors including age, socio-economic status, geographical location and other vulnerabilities. Differing roles and status within society can impact the coping strategies and choices women and men have to draw upon in becoming agents of change in sustainable development.
Women represent more than half the world's population. They stand in the front line in terms of poverty, yet provide invaluable contributions to sustaining communities around the world and managing the earth's biodiversity and natural resources. Despite their role and know-how, women's contribution is regularly undervalued and ignored.
Furthermore, women are uniquely vulnerable to environmental degradation. For example, it is well established that environmental hazards are among the major causes of global death and disease, and that the burden falls disproportionately on women and young children, especially in less developed countries.