Fairness to Women Farmers within the Gold Standard and Fair Trade Climate Smart Agriculture MRV Systems

November 17, 2013

By Jeannette Gurung, Warsaw

An innovative approach was introduced during the event of The Gold Standard: Certifying Ecosystem Services in Forestry and Agriculture: Ensuring Genuine MRV and Social and Environmental Integrity at Landscapes Level during the Global Landscape Forum on Saturday Nov. 16 at the COP19 in Warsaw, Poland.  For three sessions during this 2 hour event, facilitators called on members of the audience to come forth to form a panel, to address questions relevant to each discussion on 1) Climate Smart Agriculture, 2) Environmental and Social Safeguards in Forestry and 3) Fairtrade Carbon Credits.

Volunteers were elicited from the groups of: project developers, carbon traders, investors, social NGOs, environmental NGOs…and in one case (on Climate Smart Agriculture), gender NGOs or experts. This again points to the critical need for carbon market actors to pay attention to the role of women, particularly in these new mechanisms that will focus on a landscape approach, to now include agriculture as well as forest related activities. 

As Fairtrade develops its Carbon Credits mechanism and the Gold Standard develops its Climate Smart Agriculture requirements, talks about looking for ways to reward people for what they are doing, on behalf of small producers who are currently excluded from markets and not receiving benefits must consider how gender norms influence benefit sharing.  Women farmers make up more than half of the world’s farmers and are the primary farmers in much of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, yet gender blindness amongst many actors in the natural resource sectors has resulted in women farmers’ exclusion and barriers in accessing information, tools, inputs, land, market opportunities and credit. 

Surely any new mechanism claiming to address poverty and sustainable development goals through voluntary carbon or non-carbon market interventions must have a gender focus, at least to abide by the ‘do no harm’ principle, but to go far beyond that, to ensure additional benefits to women farmers and thus ensure fairness in the production and trading of carbon credits and sustainable agriculture and livelihoods. 

The Gold Standard’s inclusion of a gender expert in their Advisory Panel is a significant step to assure this fairness. WOCAN’s W+ standard is an additional mechanism to reward women farmers for their contributions to climate change mitigation and environmental management.