This Working Paper is produced by the Gender Equity Practice as part of a series four research papers commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that investigates barriers and enablers of gender-responsive approaches within different aspects of agricultural adaptation—climate-smart agriculture, nature-based solutions, financing, and locally led processes.

This paper aims to better understand the role of rural women in Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and to provide insights on how to support them. The gender dimension remains underexplored in the literature on NbS. Most studies focus on the biophysical and technical aspects of NbS and their global and transboundary scales of impact. The studies that do investigate the social aspects, such as opportunity costs and poverty impacts, tend to treat households as a congruent unit, bypassing intrahousehold and gender dynamics. Research shows that the success of NbS hinges on the inclusion of critical stakeholders, including women.

This paper explores four NbS approaches—natural climate solutions (NCS), forest landscape restoration (FLR), ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), and payments for ecosystem services (PES)—using a gender lens. Complementing the general review of NbS approaches, the paper conducts three deep dives on PES projects from around the world, highlighting in both cases the different factors that enable or bar rural women from effectively participating and benefiting from interventions. The paper then provides high-level recommendations for enabling conditions and practices for a more gender-responsive approach to NbS necessary for climate-resilient, sustainable agroecosystems. 

The primary outcome sought by this research is to support the donor community, development practitioners, and policymakers in designing and implementing NbS policies and programs that promote rural women’s agency as key stakeholders in NbS.


Preview image by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR