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Implications on equity in agricultural carbon market projects: a gendered analysis of access, decision making, and outcomes

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Carbon market projects have focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, often
at the expense of achieving sustainable development goals. A central pillar in sustainable
development is equity, yet most projects pay little attention to equity implications for
underrepresented farmers, especially women. Agricultural carbon market projects that
explicitly seek to promote sustainable agricultural land management practices are quickly
gaining attention worldwide for their promise to deliver the ‘triple-win’: adaptation, food
security, and mitigation. Previous experience with other payment for ecosystem services
projects indicate that women often are marginalized and their needs ignored. To address
this gap, this case study examined the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project with a focus
on gender equity in access, decision making, and outcomes. Results show that women
had less access to joining the project than men, because they did not have the same level
of influence in decision making at a household level. At the project level, both men and
women had little influence in establishing project requirements and potential benefits, as
these were decided upon prior to farmer recruitment. Regarding outcomes, women tended
to participate in more project activities, and would in return reap more nonmonetary
benefits than men. However, the costs involved in achieving these benefits was nontrivial:
women’s farm labor time increased significantly due to the substantial time and effort
required to implement sustainable agricultural land management practices. If agricultural
soil carbon market projects are to achieve better outcomes by addressing equity issues,
they need to pay special attention to gender and the differing needs of farmers—male,
female, young, old, poor, and less poor—by involving them at the project design stage. Our
findings show the importance of additional project benefits unrelated to carbon income
for addressing the requirements of equity perceived by both the implementing agency and
women themselves.

Citation

Lee J, Martin A, Kristjanson P, Wollenber E. 2015. Implications on equity in agricultural carbon market projects: a gendered analysis of access, decision making, and outcomes. Environment and Planning A 47:2080-2096.