Gender diversity and trust will boost climate action in 2024María Mendiluce
I spent last week in the small mountain town of Davos along with global business leaders, politicians, academics and members of civil society who came together for this year’s World Economic Forum. Read my reflections on LinkedIn.
There was one theme that stood this year at Davos: the geopolitical situation with two disastrous wars in Ukraine and Gaza and elections in 72 countries. As half the world goes to the polls this year, WEF’s annual global risk report highlighted misinformation and disinformation as the primary global risk over the next two years, followed by extreme weather events.
Interestingly when you look at the long-term risks (over the next 10 years), 5 out of 10 risks are related to climate change and nature loss. As it stands, humanity is dancing on a knife edge. The latest science shows 2023 was the hottest year on record with an average global temperature just below 1.5°C, the critical threshold for avoiding the worst effects of climate change for people and livelihoods.
To ensure a liveable world for future generations, science tells us emissions must peak by no later than next year and halve within six years. To do so, means tackling the leading cause of emissions: burning fossil fuels. The global agreement achieved at COP28 last month – to transition away from fossil fuels in line with science, alongside a tripling of renewable capacity and doubling of energy efficiency needs – to turn into investment, policies and laws. In 2024, our Fossil to Clean campaign will continue to accelerate this action by businesses and governments.
Strong and diverse international cooperation will be needed to steer a steady course in these times of political upheaval and unfolding conflicts. As I wrote in my latest piece for Forbes, diverse teams are more likely to make better, bolder decisions with a broader spectrum of people bringing greater creativity and expertise to the table, and female participation has even been shown to help negotiated peace treaties last longer.
So on hearing the news that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev had appointed only men to the Organisational Committee for the COP29 summit in Baku, it felt like there was no option but to speak up. We decided we would convene a letter from women leaders across business, civil society and science, to urge Azerbaijan to reconsider. Signed by 87 women leaders including Laurence Tubiana, Catherine McKenna, Rachel Kyte, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Kate Brandt, Kara Hartnett Hurst, Jessica Anderen, Melanie Nakagawa, Ester Baiget and many others, the letter was published in the Financial Times on Friday.
Just as we made the official delivery of the letter, we heard that the President Aliyev had announced the addition of twelve women to the team. And while there is still a long way to go for gender parity to be achieved in the climate negotiations and all our wider communities, I trust this will offer strong foundations for a successful year of climate negotiations for Azerbaijan. Taking us a step closer to keeping our planet and all people safe for the future.