Impact of Climate Change on Women and Girls in Bangladesh

On 19 December, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) organized a panel discussion on the impact of climate change on women and girls at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel. Dignitaries from various sectors, high-ranking govt officials, diplomats, donors, NGOs, INGOs, IFIs, UN agencies, distinguished personalities from academia and social institutions, graced the discussion with their presence.  Sudhir Muralidharan, Country Manager of UNOPS Bangladesh emphasized, “Sustainable development demands inclusive solutions, and today’s panel sheds light on the urgent need to comprehend and address the alarming and disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls. According to recent data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), women and girls are disproportionately affected, facing increased risks to their health, livelihoods, and overall well-being due to climate-induced challenges’’.

Tshewang Dorji T, Director, Environment and Climate Change, BIMSTEC emphasized in his welcome remarks that, “Climate change and environment are the core areas of BIMSTEC cooperation and BIMSTEC is poised to take appropriate measures to tackle climate change at the regional level’. BIMSTEC has finalized the action plan on environment and climate change and will soon start implementing the plan. He furthermore emphasized that the fight against climate change requires practical, community-centered strategies for sustainable emissions reduction and adaptation measures tailored to local needs. BIMSTEC is committed to taking significant measures to coordinate the climate actions of Member States to optimize the negotiating power of this block of countries that house nearly a fourth of the global population.

Women cross a bridge over a reservoir in Birni-N’Konni, Niger. Photo: UNOPS/Ricci Shryock

Prof. Monir Khasru, the keynote speaker, showcased how innovative solutions by Bangladeshi women such as pumpkin farming on sand islands and hydroponic farming are empowering women and girls in Bangladesh. He stated that women are building resilience and securing livelihoods despite environmental challenges in our country. It was also commented that the observed top-down strategies and interventions have yet to take us anywhere and we shall plan for modification in approach. To gain true impact in curbing the impact of climate change, we need community-driven solutions for reducing emissions and adapting to impacts.

Presenter, Nasheeba Selim, Sr. Social Development Officer (Gender), Bangladesh Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank (ADB) shared the climate change impact in Chittagong Hill Tracts. ADB is focusing on infrastructure enhancement, training and technology access, microfinance services and capacity strengthening in CHT. They aim to enhance employment and income-generating opportunities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), focusing on empowering local communities. Collaboration, knowledge sharing, and strategic actions are essential for building resilience and equity in the future.

Soma Dey, Associate Professor of the Department of Women and Gender Studies, at Dhaka University highlighted in her presentation the active role of women in agriculture, water management, reforestation, energy management, biodiversity conservation, and disaster management but added that women are the hardest hit in times of any crisis. She gave an overview of the impact of climate change on the livelihood of women and emphasized the necessity to find inclusive solutions for sustainable development.

Presenter, Ms. Nabila Purno, Programme Analyst – Maternal Health, UNFPA discussed how to raise awareness about the intersection of climate change and gender, emphasizing the specific health risks and challenges faced by women and girls specifically on fertility, pregnancy complications, and neonatal and child care.

The event successfully fostered insightful discussions on how women and girls bear the brunt of climate change, facing risks to health, livelihoods, and well-being. The event helped share knowledge, and experience among policymakers, program developers, and practitioners in the field.   It has helped to guide the participants to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change on these demographics in their future endeavors.

Irrigation infrastructure in need of repair in Birni-N’Konni, Niger, Photo: UNOPS/Juyoung Lee

UNOPS and climate change:

Without effective mitigation efforts and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded during the 21st century. At the same time, climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe, which calls for an increased focus on adaptation. As the operational arm of the UN with a presence in over 80 countries, UNOPS works with partners around the world to tackle the effects of climate change. UNOPS provides solutions for mitigation and adaptation, supporting partners to implement action and meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

Infrastructure for climate action

Infrastructure accounts for 79% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 88% of adaptation costs, as such, green and resilient infrastructure is central to advancing climate action. Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement requires a radical change to how infrastructure is planned, delivered and managed. Mandated in infrastructure, UNOPS works to help countries establish and implement ambitions for infrastructure that meet mitigation and adaptation targets.

Enabling effective infrastructure planning and access to climate financing 

UNOPS supports governments to make strategic planning decisions for low-emission and resilient infrastructure using state-of-the-art tools such as the National Infrastructure Systems Model (NISMOD). In addition, UNOPS helps partners identify and attract infrastructure finance through the Sustainable Infrastructure Financing tool (SIFT) and supports governments to diversify their sources of funding for climate-related infrastructure, including Public Private Partnerships. UNOPS also supports governments to build capacity in infrastructure planning, delivery and management to ensure that decision making contributes to climate action.

Implementing mitigation measures 

UNOPS helps achieve mitigation goals by delivering green and energy efficient infrastructure to reduce their impact on the climate as well as by implementing renewable solutions. This ranges from establishing mini-grid systems to ensure rural communities have clean access to energy, to retrofitting buildings to utilize renewable resources and reduce their overall carbon footprint.

Strengthening climate adaptation

UNOPS helps partners strengthen resilience against climate impacts by using information on natural hazards and up-to-date construction techniques. In addition, UNOPS implements infrastructure aimed at directly managing the risks caused by a changing climate, such as increased frequency and severity of flooding. UNOPS also provides a range of infrastructure condition and performance assessments, as well as training in using climate resilient design and construction, and operation and maintenance planning to ensure long-term resilience.

A UNOPS engineer shows a local woman designs of her new home in Nepal, Photo: UNOPS/John Rae

Sustainable procurement

Public procurement represents approximately 15-22 percent of GDP in many developing countries, presenting huge potential to combat climate change by addressing what governments spend money on, and how they spend it. With an explicit procurement mandate, UNOPS supports partners to realize this through ensuring more effective and climate-conscious public procurement.

Ensuring greener supply chains

As a procurement agent UNOPS helps partners implement greener supply chains. Through its Sustainable Procurement Framework, UNOPS is the first UN agency to include mandatory sustainable procurement into solicitation and contract types. Doing so allows environmental criteria to be embedded into procurement, thus contributing to lower greenhouse gas emissions. UNOPS supplier sustainability programme, DRiVE, also provides oversight of how suppliers manage and mitigate their impact on the environment.

Building capacity for sustainable procurement

UNOPS builds the capacity of institutions to realize the potential of public procurement so that it works better for both people and the planet. For example, UNOPS supports partners to factor in total cost of ownership in the evaluation of public procurement processes and evaluate the sustainability maturity of their procurement function through the Sustainable procurement assessment tool (S-PAT). Additionally, UNOPS provides technical assistance for improving their sustainable procurement practices, including their structures, regulations and governance.

Supplying renewable energy solutions

UNOPS procurement specialists are dedicated to improving efficiency and encouraging the use of renewable energy sources. For example, a comprehensive catalog of renewable energy products such as solar powered lighting, cold chain and water heating technology, as well as electric buses for sustainable cities and low emission incinerators are available on UN Web Buy Plus, UNOPS e-Commerce site, including support from specialist technical advisors.

Innovation and multi stakeholder partnerships

To mitigate the global impacts of climate change and deliver on the 2030 Agenda, introducing new innovative solutions and establishing partnerships across a range of stakeholders is critical. UNOPS is well versed in establishing platforms for collaboration, bringing together partners for a common climate agenda.

Yemeni children study under a solar-powered light in Wesab District, Photo: UNOPS

Managing multi stakeholder partnerships

UNOPS can establish multi-partner platforms that bring together partners around a common climate agenda. UNOPS Water and Energy Cluster supports the design and management of initiatives that support some of the largest climate and environment financing partners such as the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility. UNOPS hosts and manages a number of multi-stakeholder climate funds and initiatives such as the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency.


UNOPS signed a historic agreement with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and led and participated in more than 30 events with partners focused on concrete and collaborative solutions to advance climate action. At the 28th Convention on Climate Change (COP28) held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UNOPS joined global leaders, the UN family, thought leaders, experts and more to advance climate action.

One of the most significant outcomes was an agreement on addressing loss and damage. Agreed at COP28, UNOPS and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) will host the Santiago network secretariat which aims to avert, minimize and address loss and damage from the impacts of climate change.

This network will play a key role in offering technical help, improving skills, and linking various groups, knowledge hubs and research bodies.

Written by:

UNOPS Bangladesh


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