The Business Case for Gender Equity
The risks climate change poses to the world economy are clear. According to Aon’s 2021 Weather, Catastrophe, and Climate Insight report, direct economic losses and physical damage resulting from natural disasters were estimated at $343 billion in 2021, $329 billion of which resulted from weather and climate-related events, making it the third costliest year on record after adjusting for inflation.
Solutions are needed from every corner; from influential entrepreneurs to small-tract farmers, teachers and caregivers who feed, nurture, and build resilience for communities worldwide.
In the range of technologies and solutions emerging in the fight, there are some that receive less attention—despite research suggesting their effectiveness.
The focus of this report is on one of these less visible solutions: gender equity as a climate solutions multiplier.
This nascent area of study builds on foundational work by NGOs, the gender-smart capital movement, the InsureResilience Global Partnership, and an array of private companies conducting cutting-edge research in this area. On the heels of Project Drawdown’s groundbreaking recent report linking health and education to 70 gigatons of carbon dioxide reductions (one of the largest projected impacts of more than 80 global solutions), the link between climate solutions and human rights—and the rights of women and girls—is clear. According to the report, the compounding benefits of access to universal education and voluntary family planning are not only vital human rights and foundations of gender equity, but also support drawdown solutions. Both ought to be incorporated into climate negotiations, funding priorities, and country-level actions.
And until business recognizes gender equity as critical to climate action, progress toward net zero will be impeded and opportunities left unrealized. Indeed, a recent UN report underscores that empowering women means more effective climate solutions and adaptation as women are vital to building climate resilience in communities.
The question now is this: how can organizations, and businesses in particular, turn this information into action for meaningful change? Doing so requires new ways of thinking and more inclusive and interdisciplinary problem-solving strategies—intentionally including diverse perspectives from the start.
While the ground-breaking Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) promotes measuring and quantifying climate-related financial risk to influence business strategy, there exists a risk that human rights and gender equity may be left behind.
% agree (strongly or somewhat) that ESG reporting is essential for companies to deal with climate change
Unless companies understand and can fold the benefit of protecting and furthering human rights in their net zero ambitions and risk and resilience management work, the result may be divestment or withdrawal—furthering the inequities we already face today. This will be to the great detriment of frontline communities as well as to the fight against climate change.