Mainstreaming gender-smart investing to accelerate the transformation of food systems under a changing climate: Strategies to unlock climate returns by leveraging gender equality

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(1) Most investors are currently addressing climate action and gender equality – two key SDG goals – separately. Addressing these issues together has the potential to enhance financial returns, gender returns and climate returns, while also lowering investment risk
(2) Food systems around the world must be transformed in order to realize climate-change goals. Including more women in decision-making and leadership roles could help spur the changes needed. The white paper highlights multiple examples in which women are leading such
(3) For food systems to be transformed globally, and for the food sector to adopt a gender-inclusive response to climate-change risks, the private sector must embrace policies and practices like those outlined in this paper
(4) Studies have shown that women face multifaceted barriers in accessing capital. However, gender-balanced businesses perform better financially. Private and public sector capital providers, along with food and agriculture companies, should work harder to incorporate women in decision-making roles. To do so, they should reassess and adjust their investment and supply-chain procurement processes
The evidence is mounting: Incorporating gender considerations into investment strategies can improve investment performance. Doing so can create more resilient food systems, and an increasingly equitable and sustainable world. The roadmap that concludes this white paper is thus intended to help readers incorporate a climate and gender-smart approach into their own decision-making processes. Stakeholders across the investing spectrum – from private and public financial investors to philanthropic donors and food and agriculture companies – all can play a role in supporting a gender-inclusive transformation toward low-carbon and resilient food systems. To this end, the roadmap offers a diverse set of innovative strategies and processes, with the ultimate goal of increasing the volume of capital that views the sector through these vital climate and gender lenses.
Why gender equality and climate change?
By 2050, the world will need to feed nearly 10 billion people while remaining within our planetary boundaries. We can address the interlinked challenges of food security, climate-change adaptation and climate-change mitigation by applying a climate and gender-smart food systems approach. We can use strategies such as climate-smart agriculture to produce more and better food, to improve nutrition security and to boost farmers’ incomes. We can enhance climate resilience by reducing vulnerability to drought, pests, diseases and other climate-related risks and shocks. And finally, we can reduce emissions from food production, avoid deforestation from agriculture and food production and identify ways to absorb carbon out of the atmosphere.
Strengthening gender equality to support the realization of women’s rights and accelerate their socioeconomic empowerment is a development goal that is often
overlooked in the implementation of technical solutions. Yet improved gender equality will be necessary to support population-wide resilience to climate change, sustainable economies and equitable access to climate solutions. This requires that capital providers and large food and agriculture companies take a gender-smart approach that mainstreams gender analysis in investment decision- making processes, from providing the necessary capital to women-owned and led companies, to ensuring that women farmers are empowered across the entire food system.
This white paper aims to highlight opportunities and identify strategies that increase capital flow towards women-owned or led enterprises, enterprises that offer products and services that clearly improve the lives of women and girls, and enterprises that work to dismantle structural gender inequality in the food systems space.


Aslam A, Vashist A, Cosgrove B, ter Braak-Forstinger C, Wollenberg E, Papp R, Newman R. 2021. Mainstreaming gender-smart investing to accelerate the transformation of food systems under a changing climate: Strategies to unlock climate returns by leveraging gender equality. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Sagana, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).


  • Aslam, Ahmed
  • Vashist, Archana
  • Cosgrove, Bethany
  • ter Braak-Forstinger, Christin
  • Wollenberg, Eva
  • Papp, Raya
  • Newman, Richard