Women, children and climate change: Designing an economic policy research agenda

2018 PEP Policy Forum
June 13, 2018 | Bangalore, India

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today. It has implications on all dimensions of welfare, livelihoods and economic prospects. All countries feel these effects, but developing countries are the hardest hit. Within them, the most vulnerable populations—especially women and children—are impacted the most.

This challenge inspired the theme of the international high-level Policy Forum held on June 13, 2018 during the 2018 PEP Annual Conference in Bangalore, India. The Policy Forum aimed to identify specific evidence gaps where research can engage with policy to define inclusive solutions for women and children in the face of climate change.

More than 130 people from 43 countries attended, including researchers, international experts, stakeholders, donors, and decision makers. The discussions concentrated on how children and women in developing countries are affected by and respond to climate change effects, as well as the policy needs and perspectives that researchers should understand before engaging in related studies.

The event featured panel discussions focusing on Children and Climate Change, and on Women and Climate Change. The expert panellists provided an overview of the importance of policy research and policy action on these topics as well as highlighting key knowledge gaps. Following each panel discussion, a breakout session of table discussions organised by research methodology gave the audience an opportunity to review and propose research solutions to the highlighted knowledge gaps. 

Children & Climate Change panel

Key knowledge gaps identified during the Children and Climate Change session included:

  • A severe lack of empirical evidence that tackling climate change action through a child-centred lens is more effective (than a non-child-centred approach), despite substantial anecdotal evidence.
  • A need to understand how access to basic services (health, sanitation, education) can increase the chances of children’s survival in climate hotspots.
  • A need to understand how national, regional and global policies can support climate change education for adaptation, awareness, and to attract young people into climate change-related employment in the future.

Those present were then invited to discuss potential research projects that could address the knowledge gaps highlighted by the panel. A range of research solutions was proposed, including:

  • Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) household survey questionnaires could be used to investigate the effect of how household resources are allocated on child wellbeing.
  • Looking at agricultural productivity and urban investment to model the impact of climate change on decisions to migrate.
  • Using impact evaluation studies to advise governments on how to relocate populations following a climate disaster.
  • Using experimental methodologies to compare the risk and social preferences of populations in areas that are more affected by climate change to those in areas less affected.


Women & Climate Change panel 

Key knowledge gaps identified during the Women and Climate Change session included:

  • A need to understand how local coping mechanisms and adaptation technologies can reduce women’s vulnerability to climate change effects.
  • A need to understand the role of women in mitigation mechanisms and programs. 
  • A need to understand how to design cross-sectoral gendered interventions that will help women overcome [information, technology, institutional, financial] barriers to climate change adaptation.

The audience then discussed potential research projects that could address the knowledge gaps highlighted by the panel. The research solutions they proposed included:

  • Using experimental methodologies to investigate how policy can be sensitive to gender and the different consequences of climate change on women. 
  • Using community-level CBMS to understand the impact of climate change on women’s intra-household bargaining power.
  • Looking at how households cope using microeconomic analysis of household survey data to help governments decide how to provide assistance.
  • Modelling how different incentives can be used to involve women in climate mitigation activities.

Welcome remarks were offered by Professor Jane MariaraExecutive Director of PEP; Dr. Mustapha Nabli, Chair of the PEP Board of DirectorsArjan de Haan, Employment and Growth Program Leader for Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) – one of PEP’s core donors; and Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore, India – the host organisation for the 2018 PEP Annual Conference.

Arjan de Haan emphasised the importance of the day’s activities saying: “I believe that PEP, as a network of young researchers, is in a very strong position to contribute to the research agenda for policy.”

Professor Swapna Mukhopadhyay, former President of the PEP Scientific Committee, offered the closing remarks. In looking at the way forward from the day’s discussions, she remarked that many of the issues and solutions linked to climate change adaptation and resilience are not purely economic. She then called on PEP to “take the first step towards well-designed, properly multi-disciplinary research.”  

Download the full report from the Policy Forum.

Funded by