The ugly data shows just how much damage our preference for beautiful produce does.
Climate Change and Gender Equality are Related
From first glance, it appears like we are living in turbulent times when it comes to matters of climate change. And, unfortunately, one dirty secret is that neither the impacts of climate change on people nor the ways in which people respond to climate change are gender-neutral. How is this related? Gender equality is a condition for successful adaptation to climate change, and the successful transition to low-carbon pathways in all countries around the world, since its effects reach across borders and seas. This means that, if solutions are to be effective, climate change adaptation and low-carbon efforts needs to take into account the specific needs of men and women and the sex-disaggregated inequalities that may compound the impacts of climate change for poor women in particular, or prevent women from benefiting from climate change policy responses, from project proposals up to action and impact.
Climate Change Disproportionately Affects Women
It’s crucial to think about why this is import when looking at climate change problems from a macro perspective. When thinking about climate change and its disastrous repercussions, we tend to think that both sexes are affected equally. However, women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change and this burden is exacerbated when understanding that the majority of the world’s poor are women. Therefore women’s unequal participation in decision-making processes and labour markets compound inequalities and often prevent women from fully contributing to climate-related planning, policy-making and implementation.
There are plenty of publications and initiatives that urge all stakeholders from the private and public sectors to address the gender dimensions of climate change, but many of the information falls by the wayside because the initial need for investment and action seems burdensome and expensive. However, it doesn’t require a large investment to address this, it just needs people to view these issues from different perspectives and include those perspectives in planning and execution. Indeed, some progress has been made over the past few years, but few strategies for climate change adaptation and low-carbon development take an appropriate, comprehensive gender responsive approach. That is where we all need to come in and shift to a better angle at addressing climate change. New sets of stakeholders working on climate change and development-related issues – including governments, civil society and the more recently emerging role of the private sector in low-carbon initiatives – are already emerging and we need to amplify this effort.Donors’ leadership on promoting a greater focus on the social and gender dimensions of climate change is also essential.
We are in exciting times when it comes to tackling climate change issues in a truly sustainable way, but there is much work to do be done. On an international level, governments and the United Nations have prioritized integrating gender into climate change policies. Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have recognized the importance of involving women and men equally in UNFCCC processes and in the development and implementation of national climate policies that are gender-responsive by establishing a dedicated agenda item under the Convention addressing issues of gender and climate change and by including overarching text in the Paris Agreement, which was passed last year during COP21 and recently took effect. However, action usually takes a lot of time, money and agreement from several member states, which can create a huge delay.
Businesses, however, can address these issues in a quicker manner. Recently, many have begun to engage and drive the gender inclusive climate agenda, but most of them lack effective strategies for systematic integration of gender in their adaptation and mitigation work. With regard to private sector experiences of integrating gender in climate change initiatives, some level of awareness, policy commitments and efforts or plans to scale up successful pilot projects exist, but much work remains for gender to become truly and systematically incorporated into their climate change policies and programs. Businesses do not generally lack gender or climate change capacities, but many lack the capacity, resources and clear mandates to connect them.
Both climate change and gender capacities usually exist within organizations, backed in some cases by strong policies, but gender integration, particularly in climate change portfolios, is often weak. This is in part due to technical barriers and poor communication between climate change and gender experts, a lack of clear mandates and concepts in mainstreaming processes leading to a lack of adequate human and financial resource allocation for gender mainstreaming, and a lack of strategies to identify gender entry points across climate change policy work and project cycles.
The Path Forward
There is often a gender disconnect in project and program cycles – between relatively strong gender analysis in the conceptual basis and planning of projects on the one hand, and the much weaker integration of gender perspectives into implementation, monitoring and evaluation of environment and climate change initiatives on the other. One of the biggest challenges is the development of useful methodologies to measure gendered climate change impacts at local, national and international levels. Because so many strategies and monitoring and evaluation frameworks have typically been gender-blind, much-needed evidence remains unavailable to businesses and policymakers.
There needs to be a triangle between strategy, gender mainstreaming and action when it comes to creating sustainable projects that address climate change. Increasing diversity can play a critical role in response to climate change due to women’s local knowledge of and leadership in sustainable resource management and/or leading sustainable practices at the household and community level. Across the world, women’s participation at the political level has resulted in greater responsiveness to citizen’s needs, often increasing cooperation across party and ethnic lines and delivering more sustainable development. At the local level, women’s inclusion in leadership has lead to improved outcomes of climate related projects and policies. On the contrary, if policies or projects are implemented without women’s meaningful participation, it can increase existing inequalities and decrease effectiveness.
We need to create bottom-up and top-down approaches that cross sectors in order to make this work, which is easier done when it’s thoughtfully put in place from ideation. It can come from the policy-makers, but we know that will take time, so we should be invigorating it from the private sector side in order to get the ball rolling. Doing that will require integrating different perspectives and diverse experts to address this problem. Only then we will really increase diversity and inclusion. It would be best to emulate the examples we want to see on the governmental stage by first incorporating them in our own organizations.
At Sustainabilist, we are available and eager to collaborate on creating plans to boost gender diversity within organizations and to help create market solutions for real-world climate related problems
Running a company is hard work, and operating one that is driven by an ethos can be even harder. A huge variety of skills are required, and usually, only some of those resources are available within an existing organization. While the standard response to the problem is to ask a team to stretch their skill sets to meet the business needs, seeking help from qualified professionals on a strategic basis is usually a far superior choice. The realization of this truth led me to create Sustainabilist.
The proven financial benefits of ecologically sustainable business practices are becoming more and more compelling, and an increasing number of talented scientists, creatives, and business people are waking up to a deep desire to contribute their specific skillset to the cause. As I see it, Sustainabilist is a bridge between companies looking to access talent and experienced professionals passionate about contributing to a sustainable cause.
A Cohesive and Growing Team of Sustainability Professionals
Today, Sustainabilist is a network of freelancers who have skills and experience appropriate to sustainability technology projects. With each project, our team builds rapport and cohesion without the cost of extensive overhead required by a traditional brick-and-mortar consultancy. Our past projects together include marketing efforts for power metering companies, technology development for third-world sensor applications, methods of prediction for building energy efficiency, machine learning for rapid fault detection, and even the creation of an innovative power sensor startup. We aim to build on those experiences with new teammates who come to the table with a wide and exciting range of backgrounds. Our latest additions include architects, energy analysts, MBAs, and the former Chief Sustainability Officer of a Fortune 500 Company. Combined, we have the skills and expertise to confidently tackle any problem that our clients may face.
The Climate Change Opportunity
Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation, and every challenge comes with an opportunity of commensurate proportion. The size of the business opportunity in sustainability is astounding. Just looking at the energy sector alone, the numbers are gigantic:
● Global Energy Efficiency Investment in buildings will increase to over $125bn by 2020 
● Solar is expected to be a $3.7 Trillion (Yes, that’s a T), market by 2025. This is out of a total of $8 Trillion that will be spent on clean energy, including wind power.
● The Smart Grid market is expected to grow at an 18% CAGR to $120 Billion by 2020.
● In addition to these figures, there are huge opportunities to build companies that expand energy access to the 1.2 billion people worldwide living in homes that have yet to be electrified.
An Optimistic Future
Our work so far is just the tip of the iceberg. We are excited by the opportunities to grow in order to make a real difference for the clients we serve and the world we live in. In the short term, expect to hear a lot more from us as we publish more articles on relevant subject matter and hold curated Slack chats on different aspects of cleantech and sustainability.
If you’re interested in working with us as a client or think you have skills to fill out our bench, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.