USAID Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE) Challenge

Drawing on IUCN Research Towards Action: A Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment

Murray Anderson | JAM International

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are each committed to gender-responsive environmental action towards achieving gender equality and sustainable development outcomes. Together, through their partnership on Advancing Gender in the Environment (AGENT), IUCN and USAID identified a major knowledge gap related to gender-based violence (GBV) and environment linkages.

Drawing on a literature review of over 1,000 documents,plus analysis of case studies and survey responses from over 300 gender-environment practitioners, IUCN and USAID found that links are clear: GBV exists across environmental sectors as both an expression of gender inequality and a means to reinforce it, undermining human rights—as well as the full potential of environmental programming. Collating research and establishing a knowledge base on linkages across sectors, The Violence of Inequality: Drivers and impacts of gender-based violence in the environmental context (November 2019) presents a 360-degree view of issues.

Among many others, the research brings to light one key finding: while sector- and context-specific evidence of and strategies to address GBV exist, for example in humanitarian settings and interventions, information from and tools specifically targeted for the environmental community are scarce and urgently needed.

On August 15, 2019, USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GenDev) launched the Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE) Challenge, which will address Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the environment. The RISE Challenge seeks innovative applications of promising or proven interventions that prevent and respond to gender-based violence across programs that address access, use, control, and management of natural resources. 

USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GenDev) recognizes that GBV, environmental degradation, and instability are interlinked. Responding to GBV can provide opportunities for both enhanced environmental action and women’s empowerment, but tackling one issue without addressing the other is unlikely to succeed. USAID’s RISE Challenge aims to fund organizations to innovatively adapt and implement promising or proven interventions or practices that have been used to effectively prevent and respond to GBV in other sectors to environmental programming, or to integrate GBV prevention and response interventions into existing environmental programming.

The challenge aims to draw insights and learnings from other development and humanitarian sectors, which have proven or promising practices to address GBV. The challenge seeks partnerships between environmental organizations, gender equality and GBV organizations, local communities, and relevant experts who can help bridge knowledge gaps and work to build an evidence base of effective interventions. 

The aim is also to celebrate and spur a broad range of approaches that are sustainable, scaleable, applicable for USAID, and replicable among a range of donors and implementers. USAID will spotlight, facilitate access to funding, and provide technical assistance to support the cohort of winners in obtaining impact and measurable results.