2016 Reflections and Expectations for 2017

January 2, 2017

Looking back at 2016 brings a sense of pride and accomplishment for all that WOCAN has achieved over the years. It was a year of recognition for these years of effort, as we were selected to receive the Momentum for Change Women for Results award of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This award was given for the development of the W+ Standard and its application to a renewable energy program in Nepal, that returned revenue to women’s groups from the sale of W+ units. The endorsement of the W+ through this prestigious award has enabled us to draw the attention of climate finance institutions and carbon offset buyers interested in achieving both social and environmental impacts, in a manner that is both transparent and rigorous. 

WOCAN had foreseen this need and opportunity four years ago, when it began to invest its resources into the development and testing of the W+ Standard, and pursuance of the ISEAL Alliance membership to accredit the Standard. To date, several project developers have applied the W+ to renewable energy, food security and livelihoods projects in Asia and Africa; many more and larger developers and investors are now planning for its use in 2017, for forestry initiatives as well as those of renewable energy and livelihoods. The strong interest of at least three other standards in collaboration with WOCAN to integrate the W+ Standard demonstrates a trend that we hope brings tangible benefits to women, as governments, companies and investors set targets to meet Goal #5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, for gender equality and women’s empowerment.  If this brings an enhanced level of resources and benefits to community women groups and their families, WOCAN’s goals will be achieved.

WOCAN’s unique breadth and depth of expertise and experience in building capacities of agriculture and environment organizations and companies to integrate gender and to build the leadership of their staff and partners has been recognized as well. WOCAN was selected from amongst several competitors to provide technical services to grantees of the Swedish government throughout Asia and the Pacific; similarly, it was selected to provide capacity building services to entities of the Green Climate Fund, through its partnership with Price Waterhouse Coopers. These opportunities allow WOCAN to draw on its members across 111 countries, to provide locale-specific consultancy services.

In 2016, the WOCAN Board of Directors recognized the changing nature of funding possibilities and new opportunities, articulated in WOCAN’s new Strategic Plan for 2017-2019, appropriately titled “Leading for the New Reality”. When WOCAN was founded in 2004, climate change was not a discussed topic, virtual communication was nascent, and development work was funded primarily by traditional donor agencies through grants. In just the past few years, climate change impacts on agriculture and natural resource management have become an essential focus, we can connect face-to-face virtually around the globe with ease, and the funding environment for development is shifting to include market-based, investment approaches.

And yet simultaneously, many of the gender-based challenges WOCAN was founded to address are still entrenched in institutions and communities and there is continued resistance to lifting up the leadership of women in the field and in the fields. We are stretched across the globe to meet these challenges and our mission is more relevant than ever.
WOCAN’s 2017-2019 Strategic Plan intends to not only respond to these changes and challenges, but to lead the way in offering new models and award-winning approaches to harness our new realities in service to our mission.

Starting in 2017, and over the next five years, we will assess our highest impact programs and target those for organizational focus, establish them to be best in class, and create multiple entry points for more institutions to step into gender-inclusive futures. All of this must result in better outcomes for the rural women and their collectives to achieve our mission: to advance women’s empowerment and collective action to tackle climate change, poverty, and food insecurity within enabling environments.

We will broadcast our mission with more intention and creativity, offering authoritative thought leadership in the field and educating influencers to multiply and deepen our message.  We will catalyze our vibrant global membership and partners who, together, create the community, opportunities and innovation to meet our shared goals. 
And, we will adopt new organizational funding and staffing models that respond to our diverse and shifting landscape, to create a sustainable foundation for our work.

Join us as members and partners, renew membership, support our work, purchase W+ units.

Together, we will lead the new reality.

Regards, 

Jeannette Gurung
Executive Director