Climate change is no longer a future risk. Climate change is a lived reality for many communities globally, regionally, nationally and locally. Over the last few years, South Africans have been affected by multi-year drought, floods, extreme heat and an unprecedented number of wildfires – many of which have been attributed to climate change. This has negatively impacted South Africa’s natural resources, biodiversity, water and coastal resources, in turn affecting the lives and livelihoods that are dependent on these resources, as well as infrastructure, energy, health and well-being. This has also exacerbated South Africa’s development challenges and impacted on the country’s resilience and ability to absorb and bounce back from these hazards. Well managed biodiversity and associated ecological infrastructure can play an important role in protecting people from the damaging impacts of climate change.

The consequences of these changes in climate are not felt by everyone equally. Globally, the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss have had greater impacts on specific groups of people, including women, children, disadvantaged communities, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Women continue to be disenfranchised and face exacerbated inequalities which increases their vulnerability to climate change, which in turn reinforces inequality. This picture is reflected in South Africa as well.

SANBI recognises the need for broad transformation of the biodiversity sector. It is committed to working towards equality and equity, with a focus on previously disadvantaged groups.

The concept of mainstreaming a gender perspective involves integrating gender considerations for men and women into legislation, policy and practices. SANBI’s efforts to mainstream gender are contributing to transforming the sector so that it benefits all people and the environment – ‘leave no one behind’.


In South Africa,  equality is written into the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. Section 9.3 specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender: ‘the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth’.

The achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment is also supported by a framework of policies and mechanisms that include a national gender policy framework and a Ministry for Women in the Presidency. The achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment is also supported by a framework of policies, such as the:

  • National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality
  • National Strategy towards Gender Mainstreaming in the Environmental Sector (2016-2021)
  • Gender Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework and Country Gender Indicator Framework
  • Environment Sector Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, to mention a few.


Mainstreaming gender considerations into policy and practice is one of SANBI’s key commitments to transformation.

The Division Adaptation Policy and Resourcing, leads SANBI’s work on climate change adaptation. It promotes Ecosystem-based Adaptation as an approach to respond to climate change. As an accredited entity for the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund, SANBI is able to secure international climate finance for climate change adaptation projects.

The Government of Flanders is providing support to SANBI to develop a funded portfolio of Green Climate Fund projects over the coming years. One of the key focus areas of the Unlocking Climate Finance for Climate Change Adaptation project is to mainstream gender considerations into the various projects and programmes that will be implemented across the provinces.

SANBI is also leading on the Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy 2010 -2030. Thus the gender mainstreaming activities of the Adaptation Policy and Resourcing division are aligned with SANBI’s broader transformation goals. The Groen Sebenza climate change internships provides an opportunity for 18 young professionals to learn and build their capacity in the sector.

Other activities for mainstreaming gender in the sector include:

  • Coordinate a Community of Practice around Climate Change Adaptation and Gender Mainstreaming. Please click here to read more on the Climate Change Adaptation and Gender Mainstreaming Dialogue that took place on the 8th and 9th of March 2023.
  • Producing a suite of gender mainstreaming products.
  • Developing a training module on the vulnerabilities of women to climate change.
  • Contribute to building our collective capacity on the vulnerabilities of women to climate change.
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