COP 26 Event - Protecting the hardest hit: the critical role of social protection in building climate resilience, disaster response and gender equality


Climate-related disasters are happening more and more frequently, significantly outstripping capacity and funding in the humanitarian system. Women and girls, especially the poorest or those with intersecting vulnerabilities, are disproportionately impacted by climate change, and lack the resources, assets and networks to cope with shocks when they happen.

Social protection is critical to the response to the climate crisis. Social protection reduces poverty - one of the main drivers of vulnerability to climate-related shocks - and builds resilience before shocks occur. It also helps people cope better when shocks do happen, offering a more timely and sustainable response to crises.  Climate-smart social protection can help people and communities adapt to climate change and transition to a green economy, helping people adopt new livelihoods in response to climate change mitigation policies.

Social protection can also accelerate gender-transformative change, empowering women and girls and closing gender gaps. When well-designed social protection can reduce the inequalities that make women and girls more vulnerable to crises, and better protect them when these shocks occur. However, the COVID-19 crisis saw both a significant scale up of social protection responses to crisis, but also highlighted fundamental gaps in the gender equality and inclusion of these measures. Urgent and concerted action is needed to maximise the potential of social protection for reducing gender gaps, especially in crisis response.

The event will be chaired by Sir Philip Barton Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCDO, with a key note address from Anne-Marie Trevelyan Secretary of State for International Trade, President of the Board of Trade and UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency. There will be a panel discussion with the speakers listed below as well as final remarks from Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

  • Sunya Orre - Director, Technical Services, National Drought Management Authority, Kenya
  • Idrissa Smna - Head of Safety Net Unit and Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister of Niger
  • Mirai Chatterjee - Director Social Security, SEWA, India
  • Kirsty McNeill - Executive Director Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children UK 
  • Bernice Van Bronkhorst - Global Director for Climate Change, World Bank, USA

This event will generate momentum on the importance of gender responsive social protection to build resilience and respond to the climate-related disasters. It will: 

  • Encourage an expansion of climate-smart and gender-responsive social protection to protect those most affected by climate risks, especially women and girls.  

  • Showcase the importance of and approaches to gender-responsive social protection in building climate resilience and disaster response, particularly addressing gender and intersecting inequalities.  

  • Increase financing for gender-responsive social protection, including from climate funds. 

  • And secure international and national-level action and commitment to expand gender responsive social protection in the climate response, launching a Call to Action.  


Event Main Messages: 

  • Expand gender-responsive social protection to build people’s resilience to climate change and strengthen disaster response.

  • Increase access to financing including from climate funds for gender-responsive social protection  

  • Empower and engage women and girls, their organisations and diverse set of local actors in gender and climate-smart social protection 

  • Improve coordination and linkages across actors, experts and agencies working on climate change, disaster response, social protection and gender equality from national to local levels, including improved collection and use of disaggregated data.

Event Access:

To watch the live stream of the event please click on the following link


This event has been organised in partnership with SPTAF - Social Protection Technical Assistance Facility, funded by UK Aid. For further information please contact [email protected]