Climate readiness is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations in today’s volatile world.
In 2021, natural disasters caused an estimated $343 billion in direct economic losses and physical damage, and $329 billion of that was from weather and climate-related events, according to Aon’s 2021 Weather, Catastrophe, and Climate Insight report. This made 2021 the third costliest year on record after adjusting for inflation.
More innovative climate solutions are required to solve today’s challenges, and a new report published by Aon and informed by the Taskforce for Equity in Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TECFD) highlights a less prominent, but no less promising solution: gender equity as a climate solutions multiplier.
Accelerating the Race to Net Zero Through Gender Equity
The TECFD was created through Women+ in Climate Tech (WiCT+), a global group that empowers women and non-binary climate tech professionals. WICT+ created this taskforce to better understand the connection between climate change, social equity, and action.
WiCT+ collaborated with Aon, a leading global professional services firm that develops solutions to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world, to produce the report “Accelerating the Race to Net Zero Through Gender Equity: Strategies for More Equitable Climate Action.”
Research and Development
More than 30 women were chosen for this project through a global application process, including sustainability, energy and resilience experts, analysts and researchers at multinational corporations, consultancies, universities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
They were separated into six working groups for the research and development. Benecomms, a women-owned marketing and public relations firm and a lead founder of WiCT+, orchestrated the effort.
A key outcome of the research was a survey of WiCT+ members that assessed the importance of climate risk, climate opportunity and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting, along with the intersections of gender equity and corporate climate action, and gender equity and professional beliefs. The results of this survey are highlighted in the report.
Connecting Gender Equity and Climate Action
The report shows how equity and climate risk are interrelated, that there is a need for gender-specific data, and that women must be enabled to accelerate climate action. This includes allocating capital for more investments in women-driven climate initiatives.
The TECFD working group found that climate change disproportionately impacts women due to cultural, educational, and resource inequities. Climate change impacts community cohesion, supply chain and corporate resilience.
The report also highlights how traditional approaches to funding and scaling women-led solutions may not work due to systemic challenges facing women, ranging from unequal access to resources and education to lack of mentorship and empowerment. Women remain unrepresented in capital allocation positions, which is a vital component in how companies, governments, and individuals approach solutions to tackle climate risks.
According to the report, women also generally earn less than men and claim fewer benefits during their lifetimes; a situation that will only worsen as climate change increases health vulnerabilities.
“Unless addressed, this will mean increased risk for women, their families, and their communities,”
Studies have shown that women leaders play a critical role in the global workforce by helping to promote diversity, equality, and a more balanced approach to employees’ work and personal lives. But while women have been advancing towards employment equity in recent years, they’ve lost momentum amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported by McKinsey, women accounted for 54 percent of overall job losses during the pandemic, despite only making up 39 percent of global employment. This disparity can be attributed in part to women on average earning less than men and the additional caretaking and household responsibilities that tend to be held by women.
While women in low-income countries are subject to higher climate vulnerability, climate gender equity disparities persist globally. As the United States celebrates the Inflation Reduction Act as a climate victory, it does so without key provisions to improve the resilience of women and children—namely universal pre-kindergarten, lower childcare costs, paid family and sick leave and the enhanced child tax credit. Benefits focused on enhancing gender equity have been routinely cut from proposed legislation.
“Diversity at the top of the value chain will only help in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts,”
Turning Results into Progress
“The report findings illustrate that gender equity is not just “good to have” but is in fact “a must have” to accelerate equitable climate action,” and, adding that the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made the urgency for climate action “extremely clear.”
The next step is to leverage the research gathered and the TECFD framework developed to better understand S7Clear’s baseline for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the context of climate action.
“With this baseline, we will be able to improve and accelerate our company’s social equity and climate action,”
UN Climate Change Conference (Nov. 6-18)
WSP is all in for the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP27) this year in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The firm’s delegation is working in close collaboration with the UN Climate Champions team and numerous partners, including the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure, Resilience Rising, Resilience First, the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
S7Clear is helping shape the discourse and presenting on a wide range of topics — the future of funding the net-zero transition, realizing infrastructure’s resilience dividend, mainstreaming nature-based solutions and integrating green infrastructure into grey — and supporting the Resilience Breakthroughs implementation labs across the spectrum of impact systems: food & agriculture, water & nature, human settlements, oceans and infrastructure.