If done well, climate change projects could offer a unique opportunity to invest in the potential of women. By channeling financial resources effectively, the world can make significant – and simultaneous – progress in addressing global warming and gender inequalities.
LUXEMBOURG – Women represent 43% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries, but only account for about 7% investment in the area. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, investing more in women farmers could increase agricultural yields by up to 30% – almost enough to compensate for the drop in production expected by 2030 due to climate change.
This is just one example of how climate and gender are deeply linked. Women’s livelihoods often depend on forests, rivers, lakes and oceans, and their knowledge of these resources could spearhead conservation efforts. At the same time, women suffer more than men from climate change, as they tend to be poorer and often lack the financial means to recover from floods, heat waves or forest fires.
But even though climate change profoundly affects women’s lives, high-level climate talks or policy initiatives rarely take into account their conditions, needs and perspectives. It is both unfair and short-sighted. Climate projects need the contribution of women to be successful, given the enormous role they play as consumers, community leaders, workers and entrepreneurs.
We already know that investing in women is good business. Companies in which women hold at least half of the managerial positions have higher sales growth, are more profitable and generate a better return on their assets. And because women do around 80% of consumer purchasing decisions, companies with a higher female representation often produce products that sell better.
But investing in women also makes good climate sense. Women are more likely than men to start a business focused on sustainability. Companies with women in their councils are likely to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs and invest in renewable energy production. Likewise, companies that increased female representation Board members over a five-year period were 60% more likely to reduce their energy intensity, 39% more likely to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and 46% more likely to reduce their water consumption.
More and more investors are evaluating companies not only on the basis of their financial performance, but also in terms of their environmental and biodiversity commitments and their efforts to promote gender equality. EcoEnterprises, a Latin American-based biodiversity investment company, taps into this investor interest. He has a solid background in helping environmentally sustainable businesses in the region scale up their operations and provide economic opportunities for women in rural areas.
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Additionally, EcoEnterprises is owned and managed by a woman, Tammy Newmark, and its management team is almost entirely female. The company has raised funds for three investment funds to date. The third fund – in which the European Investment Bank has invested around $ 20 million – will allocate 15% of its capital to investments in companies owned or managed by women, and will push the companies in its portfolio to employ women in 50% of the jobs. These objectives mean that the fund has qualified for the 2X challenge, a global initiative supported by the EIB since its inception, which aims to raise $ 15 billion to strengthen women’s economic participation.
An investment from EcoEnterprises, an organic orchard in Colombia, hired women to rebalance its predominantly male workforce and promoted two to leadership positions as human resources manager and chief operating officer. EcoEnterprises has also invested in Ecoflora care, a fast growing Colombian producer of environmentally friendly natural dyes for the food and personal care industries. Founded by Sandra Zapata, the company is actively expanding its supply network to include more women.
Such investments show how biodiversity and gender equality can naturally complement each other. Focusing on both goals together improves the impact of a project while reducing risk.
If done well, climate change projects could offer a unique opportunity to invest in the potential of women. The green economic transition is expected to create millions of jobs in the years to come. Ensuring that women have the skills to seize these new opportunities could help reduce persistent labor market inequalities and gender income gaps. But to offer women this chance, it is necessary to integrate gender-sensitive policies in all aspects of recruitment and promotion.
Likewise, reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals depends on improving the opportunities and economic participation of women around the world. Aware of this need, the EIB is increasingly integrating gender into its projects. we applied 2X Challenge Criteria – which define the levels of employment and investment of women in businesses owned and run by women – to our investments since 2019. These internationally agreed benchmarks help the EIB and its partners better measure our impact on gender equality and assess what works best.
In addition, the EIB has recently co-developed a guide to gender-sensitive climate finance with CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The guide, compiled on behalf of the 2X Gender and Climate Finance Working Group, provides investors with tools to integrate women into climate investments.
“Closing the gender gap is not just about justice for women and girls,” UN Secretary General António Guterres recently said. Noted. “He’s a game changer for humanity.” By directing climate resources effectively, the world could make significant – and simultaneous – progress in addressing global warming and gender inequalities.