Gender Day at COP28 - the impact of women on driving climate solutions

COP28’s Gender Day focussed on raising awareness on the importance of gender responsive climate policy and action and  women’s contribution and leadership in climate action.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) session ‘Voices & Ventures: Women Driving Climate Solutions’, highlighted the important role of women as change-makers in climate action and emphasising the need for more opportunity and investment for women at all levels. This sentiment was shared by the headline speaker, Rumaitha Al Busaidi, an Omani scientist whose 2021 TED talk examining women as the key to our climate future has amassed more than a million views. After Rumaitha’s speech, a panel of female entrepreneurs and environmental advocates, had a thought-provoking discussion.

Key takeaways:

Women entrepreneurs play a critical role in addressing climate change

On average, women own one-third of all SMEs in developing countries. The way that these businesses manage risks, reduce their emissions and contribute to new climate technologies is critical to drive climate action.

Women’s input and decision-making can offer more effective outcomes

A growing body of evidence suggests that women’s decision-making within companies results in unique, robust insights and more effective outcomes on climate-related issues. However, women are often underrepresented in private sector leadership and therefore in global efforts to address climate change.

  • Private equity funds with gender-balanced leadership earn 20% higher returns than companies with non-gender balanced funds.
  • A study examining 2,000 listed companies over 10 years found that a 1 percentage point increase in the percentage of female managers within firms leads to a 0.5 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • Banks with a higher proportion of women directors lend 10% less to firms with relatively high pollution.

Evidently, companies are likely to make a better environmental impact when women are represented in leadership and decision-making.

Investors need to mobilise more capital for women entrepreneurs working towards climate goals

Research suggests that women founders receive just 7% of venture capital and private equity in emerging markets and less than 9% of venture capital for climate tech globally.

Women entrepreneurs clearly face barriers across the financial system, in raising debt, equity or supplying goods and services to global value chains – this includes capital that would help them make their business operations greener. The panel and the IFC called for more support for women entrepreneurs and female-founded businesses stating, “if we fail to address the inequalities, we miss out on big ideas that could be potentially game changing.”

Event organiser and Global Technical Lead for the IFC, Franziska Deininger, commented, “Women are still absent everywhere we look – in business leadership, policy circles, venture capital and here at COP. Global emissions, which hit a record high this year, are as stubborn as economic gaps between men and women. How can we address them together for more effective and inclusive climate action?”

IFC’s “She Wins” initiative

IFC launched their “She Wins” Climate initiative, a five-year global programme designed to assist female climate entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Working through regional accelerators and venture capital funds, IFC will support women entrepreneurs with training, mentoring, and peer learning, while increasing opportunities for early-stage investment.

There is a compelling business case for increasing women’s voices and leadership in climate action. Initiatives like “She Wins” are encouraging and should create real change. Bringing women into climate decision-making and securing their active participation will lead to more effective climate action. The question is...are you ready to push this in your organisation?

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