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Project: Platforms for the inclusion of non-normative genders and sexualities (NNGS) in climate change adaptation policy and action

This joint project has contributed to strengthening local capacity and advocated for/integrated the concerns and strengths of LGBTIQ+ partners into local and national policies.
Multiple Authors
Photo by Jordan on Unsplash
Indonesian transgender communities in climate change adaptation action


The voices of people who claim non-normative gender and sexual (NNGS) identities have long been silenced, unheard or, at best, insufficiently heard when it comes to designing policies and actions geared towards adapting to climate change and reducing the risk of disaster. NNGS groups gather people who do not identify within the heteronormative and/or western woman-man binary. These groups include LGBTIQ+ minorities as well as non-western gender identities such as vaka sa lewa lewa in Fiji, Fa’afafine in Samoa, waria in Indonesia and bakla in the Philippines.

Members of diverse NNGS groups not only face unique challenges but also display a wide range of unique resources, skills and knowledge when dealing with the impact of climate change. It is crucial that both these unique challenges and capacities be recognised and considered in disaster risk reduction (DRR), including climate change adaptation (CCA), policy and action to ultimately stop discrimination and strengthen policies and actions for the broader society.

The ‘Platforms for the inclusion of non-normative genders and sexualities (NNGS) in CCA policy and action’ project​ aimed to address these issues. The project is a joint venture of the University of Auckland (New Zealand), the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (Philippines), the Resilience Development Initiative (Indonesia), the University College London (United Kingdom), the Samoa Fa’afafine Association (Samoa), the Edge Effect (Australia), and the Gender and Disaster Network, with funding provided by the Swedish Government through the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Strategic Collaborative Fund.

“Our project has contributed to strengthening local capacity and to advocating for/integrating the concerns and strengths of our LGBTIQA+ partners into local and national policies. These were not the primary objectives of our project as initially pitched but our continuing dialogue with our local partners has shown that these are essential steps towards international recognition. In fact, we hope that the outputs of our project will contribute to addressing some of the challenges that the Pride in the Humanitarian System network formed in Southeast Asia in 2018 has identified.”

Prof JC Gaillard, University of Auckland, Project Lead

Approach: facilitating and learning from transcultural dialogues

This project organised a series of workshops to open up and facilitate a transcultural dialogue on DRR, including CCA, between people who claim NNGS identities in the Southeast Asia and the Pacific region and regional and national stakeholders of CCA.

The project also:

  • facilitated the sharing of experience between members of diverse NNGS groups who deal with climate change and other natural hazards in their everyday life in Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • identified common and diverging challenges and opportunities in dealing with climate change and other natural hazards, among other everyday issues such as poverty and discrimination, both in policy and action, in all four countries.
  • designed a road map towards fostering the participation of NNGS groups in international and national DRR, including CCA, policy and action in connection with broader development agendas.
  • mapped out existing local and regional networks of stakeholders (CSOs, research institutions, international organisations) and gather them into a broader consortium of organisations to advocate for the rights and increasing participation of NNGS groups in CCA and development at large, including poverty alleviation.

Key Messages of the Project


Discrimination, violence and stigma are NNGS groups’ daily concern before, during, and after disasters. This discrimination, violence and stigma tends to undermine people’s potential to live dignified lives, and to survive and recover from disasters. It finds its roots in existing social norms and discriminatory laws, institutions and practices.

Processes around DRR, including CCA, are usually designed and implemented around hetero- and cis-normative assumptions. This creates barriers for gender and sexual minority communities to receive aid and support and to access government services. Many NNGS people report being denied access to food, bathing spaces, relief materials, shelter, and ex gratia compensation following a disaster. Others report experiences of sexual harassment and violence. Climate change and other natural hazards also threaten many NNGS people’s health and source of income as, due to existing stigma and discrimination, NNGS people are overrepresented in outdoor precarious employment positions, especially as buskers or sex workers.

Yet, CCA and DRR policies and actions often fail to recognise and/or address this discrimination, violence and exclusion. In parallel, due to their lack of inclusion in CCA and DRR policy making and dissemination, NNGS groups lack adequate information on local, regional, national and international CCA and DRR policies and actions. This necessarily results in NNGS individuals having to find their own solutions and tends to reinforce this existing state of violence and exclusion.


NNGS communities have a number of strengths, especially a solid extended informal network and a strong capacity to learn and work together, that they already mobilize and will continue to mobilise to support their communities’ ability to adapt to climate change and deal with other natural hazards.

These strengths materialize in projects providing safe spaces, HIV facilities, and psychosocial support to NNGS people, before as well as following disasters. But they also materialize in the ability to share and raise awareness about experiences of discrimination, violence and exclusion in pre-emergency, relief and recovery phases. On the local level, NNGS communities are able and often use unique skills like arts and theater to share their experience of climate change and disasters. On the international level, NNGS civil society organisations have already proved, especially with the 2018 ‘Pride in the Humanitarian System Consultation’, their ability and crucial role as both actors and consultants of the DRR and CCA sectors.

There is much potential in supporting, reproducing, and drawing from these existing strengths and actions already developed and implemented by NNGS communities and civil society organisations at the local, national and international levels.

Ways forward

Inclusive climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction will require diversifying participation in policy making and planning. Local governments and response organisations should consider working with, and establishing a more transparent dialogue on existing CCA and DRR actions and plans with members of NNGS communities which are dedicated to contribute. This could reciprocally take the form of NNGS led SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics) seminars and conferences for CCA and DRR stakeholders and decision makers.

Nevertheless, as working with sexual and gender minorities may involve risk for those people, there is a serious need of protection for NNGS champions. Local governments and response organisations should also recognise, support and build on NNGS communities and individuals’ existing strengths, capacities and actions to plan effective and inclusive CCA policies and strategies. There is for instance potential in drawing from actions already developed and implemented by NNGS communities such as the Philippine Mapbeks project, invested in the mapping of LGBT-safe spaces, HIV facilities, buildings and roads for disaster management. There is moreover a crucial need for more gendered-disaggregated data and stats on NNGS groups’ experience of climate change and climate-related disasters.

Finally, as the way people suffer disproportionate or differential impacts from climate change and climate-related disasters is never solely related to their sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; but also to their economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, and any other locally-relevant socio-economic factors; adopting a NNGS lens and intersectional analysis to monitor, review, and evaluate existing CCA policies and actions is necessary.

Project Outputs

The outputs of this project can be found below. Some outputs are still in process and will be published here during the next months. Please do check back for updates.

Four short documentary films

  • A documentary film created by LGBT San Nicolas (Philippines) depicting their experiences during the Taal Volcano eruption, the Covid-19 pandemic and typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses in the year 2021.
  • A documentary film created by the Resilience Development Initiative (Indonesia) documenting Indonesian transgender communities’ response to climate change and other natural hazards.
  • A documentary film created by the Resilience Development Initiative (Indonesia) depicting the impact of droughts on the transgender communities of Eastern Indonesia.
  • A documentary film created by the Resilience Development Initiative (Indonesia) depicting the impact of the Duri River flooding (West Jakarta) on the local transgender community.

Two policy briefs

One academic paper (forthcoming)

Two podcast episodes

  • One episode of the Disasters: Deconstructed series: LGBTQI Experiences
    • ​In this episode Ksenia and guest co-host JC Gaillard are joined by Mx Roxanne Omega-Doron (Bisdak Pride in the Philippines), Bunda Mayora (Fajar Sikka in Indonesia), Neen Sapalo (University of the Philippines Diliman), and Adryan Sasongko (Resilience Development Initiative in Indonesia) to discuss the experiences of LGBTQI minorities and non-Western gender identities.
  • One episode of Pumapodcast (coming soon)

Training materials

  • One training manual being designed by the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (coming soon)
  • One gender-sensitive training module for local government developed by the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (coming soon)


These outputs are also available in the ReNDES website:

Related resources

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