A photograph of HE Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore at the ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme's Gender and Climate webinar


Applying a gender lens to Climate Finance Thinking: an opportunity

10 minute read

Opening speech by HE Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore at the ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme’s Gender and Climate webinar.

Thank you, Gilles, for your kind words. I’m delighted to be here for this webinar.

27 years into my foreign policy career, one of the issues I’ve seen the most change on has been the understanding that to make genuine and sustained progress on the most difficult issues facing humanity – health, conflict and climate – decision makers need to take gender into account.

And if you were looking for a challenging issue, they don’t come bigger than the climate change crisis, which threatens our nature, our economies, our security and our societies. Even in a year when the pandemic is reminding us of our human frailty, climate change remains a yet bigger challenge.

So, I jumped at the chance to participate in the event today, which is about bringing gender and climate together when we think about a key aspect of how we run our countries: financial decision making.

For those who aren’t already familiar with our work, this webinar is part of the UK’s ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme. The programme is designed to support ASEAN as it seeks to harness the benefits of deploying low carbon energy by leveraging on the UK’s extensive expertise and learnings, both in green finance and in energy efficiency.

I’d like to thank Gilles Pascual, Ernst & Young’s Programme Director, and Smita Biswas who leads the programme’s Gender & Inclusion work, for bringing us together.

This event today should allow us to share our commitment to both gender and climate change at the heart of everything we do. Far from compromising or confusing our other objectives, we know that we can only succeed by bringing all voices to the table to build a more sustainable future.

Today we will explore how we can bring a gender lens to investments that target the climate crisis and a climate lens to gender-smart investments. I know many of you will be familiar with applying a climate lens to your businesses and investments – it forms a central pillar of ESG reporting. And gender equality is receiving a lot of attention as a result of corporate diversity disclosures, but gender lens investing is a newer piece of the landscape.

Gender lens investing means incorporating gender considerations into financial analysis to achieve better financial and social outcomes. It has the potential to deliver for business, women and the world, including by advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

So why is the gender and climate nexus important?

I want to first talk briefly about the practical and developmental reasons to bring climate and gender together. There is a substantial and ever-growing body of evidence that proves women have a huge role to play in delivering climate change mitigation and adaptation. But they remain under-represented, both in key decision-making positions and as users of capital.

Moreover, those hit hardest by the climate crisis will be those who are already the most disadvantaged. Women and girls will therefore be worst hit because of existing pervasive social, cultural and economic disadvantages. Merging the gender and climate investment agendas has the power to improve our response to climate change and deliver social justice at the same time.

In the past, climate change and gender equality have sometimes been seen as something for governments and NGOs to worry about. But it is fast becoming clear it is something everyone needs to worry about.

At the macro level, McKinsey estimate that up to US$28 trillion (or 26%) could be added to the global GDP in 2025 by closing the representation gap between men and women in the economy. As COVID-19 ravages the global economy, there has never been a more pressing need for easy wins.

Businesses that ignore this are being left behind.

Companies with high gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians. Companies with at least 30% women executives outperform those with lower women representation. Venture and private equity funds with gender balanced teams have 20% higher returns than their peers.

Companies without strong gender values are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the best talent from an increasingly values-driven workforce. There are reputational risks and potentially even regulatory risks to ignoring the gender dimension to business operations. Even Governments fall foul of this, with Australia’s ‘gender neutral’ COVID-19 recovery being publicly criticised for largely supporting jobs in construction and infrastructure – typically, heavily male-dominated industries.

So, with an insight into the benefits of getting this right and the risks of ignoring it, let’s turn to what we can do by considering what it means to apply a gender and climate lens to investment, particularly as we look to recovery.

Incorporating gender and climate analysis into the practice of investing includes how value is assigned, how relationships are structured and how processes work.

If you’re investing in climate businesses, you can bring gender into your due diligence process by asking businesses where the women are and why; how their business model impacts women; or how the products and services they offer impact the lives of women and girls.

From a social and environmental impact frame, you can also ask: how women and girls are currently being left out of climate related investments; how they are affected by climate impacts; how they are benefiting or being negatively impacted by climate finance initiatives. COVID-19 presents a serious challenge to those of us fighting for a more sustainable and equal future. It has had both economic and social impacts that gender and climate investment look to tackle. The maelstrom of social and economic challenges arising from the global health and economic crises calls for increased urgency and intention to address the specific challenges women face.

The investment community should look to build more sustainable, diverse and impactful portfolios. This pandemic raises the importance of taking a long-term approach to our investment strategies – one that looks at gender and climate in concert. Now more than ever we need to frame women equally as leaders, innovators, employees, value chain members and consumers.

I must thank Suzanne Biegel, co-founder of the GenderSmart initiative and Wolfgang Hafenmayer, founder of Sagana, who are key Thought Leaders in this field and are supporting today’s webinar.

I hope the discussion today will be fruitful and it marks an important step in developing long term partnerships in this area between the UK and Southeast Asian countries. I will also be staying with you for the first half of the session to learn.

I strongly encourage everyone to continue these conversations after this event, and together we can construct an economic recovery from COVID-19, which places Climate and Gender at its core, delivering a sustainable, resilient future that delivers for women, society and the planet.

Thank you.

An image of a globe depicting our planet, and the following text next to it: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 In Partnership with Italy


Joint statement on US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

2 minute read

The UNFCCC and the Governments of the UK, Chile, France and Italy have issued a joint statement on the US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

There is no greater responsibility than protecting our planet and people from the threat of climate change. The science is clear that we must urgently scale up action and work together to reduce the impacts of global warming and to ensure a greener, more resilient future for us all. The Paris Agreement provides the right framework to achieve this. Our efforts must include support for those countries and communities at the frontline of climate change. It is vital that we take renewed action to hold the temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and take best efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

On 12 December we will be celebrating the five year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. We must ensure that it is implemented in full. We note with regret that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has formally come into effect today. As we look towards COP26 in Glasgow, we remain committed to working with all US stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

An image of a globe depicting our planet, and the following text next to it: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 In Partnership with Italy


New dates agreed for COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference

5 minute read

The COP26 UN climate conference will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with the UK and its Italian partners, agreed today new dates for the COP26 UN climate conference, which will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

The agreement followed consultation with UNFCCC members, delivery partners and the international climate community. The conference was originally set to take place in November 2020, but had been postponed due to COVID-19.

In the run up to November 2021, the UK as hosts will continue to work with all involved to increase climate action, build resilience and lower emissions. The new date will also allow the UK and our Italian partners to harness our incoming G7 and G20 presidencies in driving climate ambition.

The decision on the new date comes as the UK Government announces that over 25 experts in multiple global sectors will be advising the COP26 Presidency.

The Friends of COP bring expertise from countries across six continents, including France, Barbados, Chad, Australia, India and Peru. They will advise the UK Government and inspire action from their sectors ahead of the conference.

The Friends of COP include Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action, Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the Coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change. With the new dates for COP26 now agreed we are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021. The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean resilient recovery.

Everyone will need to raise their ambitions to tackle climate change and the expertise of the Friends of COP will be important in helping boost climate action across the globe.

Alok Sharma, COP26 President and Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I am glad that consultations with Parties have made it possible to collectively and quickly agree new dates for COP26. The new dates mean the conference will be at a time when the Covid-19 tragedy will be behind us and we will be able to ensure inclusiveness, for us a fundamental prerequisite for an ambitious COP26 based on global commitment to action.

Between now and November 2021 we will take advantage of every international opportunity to increase ambition and mobilization, also harnessing the G20 under the Italian Presidency and the G7 under the British Presidency.

 Sergio Costa, Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection

It is very important that we continue to push for climate action, and having quickly agreed on new dates for COP26 is a sign of this commitment. While the subsidiary body sessions (SB52) were also postponed 4-12 October 2020, the work of the Parties and stakeholders will continue through virtual meetings such as the upcoming ‘June Momentum’.

The urgency with which governments and the way in which countries promote recovery from the post-COVID-19 crisis will directly affect the other serious global crisis we are experiencing: global warming and climate change crisis. That is why we will continue to strongly mobilize all actors. We need more ambition to reduce emissions, to build resilience and to cooperate with each other.

Carolina Schmidt Zaldívar, COP25 President and Minister of Environment of Chile

Our efforts to address climate change and COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive. If done right, the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable climate path.

We honour those who we have lost by working with renewed commitment and continuing to demonstrate leadership and determination in addressing climate change, and building a safe, clean, just and resilient world.

Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary

A photograph of Hindou Oumarou


Ms Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) Coordinator

A photograph of Eric Garcetti


Mayor Eric Garcetti

Mayor of Los Angeles; Chair of the C40 Cities

A photograph of Justin Adams


Mr Justin Adams

Co-Director, Nature Based Solutions, World Economic Forum and Executive Director, Tropical Forest Alliance

A photograph of Corinne Le Quere


Professor Corinne Le Quéré FRS CBE

Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia

A photograph of Graham Wynne


Sir Graham Wynne

Senior Fellow with the World Resources Institute

A photograph of James Cameron


Mr James Cameron

Chairman of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Senior Advisor to Pollination and SYSTEMIQ

A photograph of Jyoti Parikh


Professor Jyoti K Parikh

Executive Director of Integrated Research and Action for Development

A photograph of Manuel Pulgar-Vidal


Mr Manuel Pulgar-Vidal

Climate & Energy Global Practice Leader at World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF International

A photograph of Christiana Figueres


Ms Christiana Figueres

Former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

A photograph of Laurence Tubiana


Ms Laurence Tubiana

COP21 Sherpa, CEO ECF

Laurence Tubiana is CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF). In addition, she is the Chair of the Board of Governors of the French Development Agency (AFD). Before joining the ECF, Laurence was France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21, and as such a key architect of the Paris Agreement. Following COP21, she was appointed High Level Champion for Climate Action. Laurence founded in 2002 and directed until 2014 the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). She has held academic positions at Columbia University, and has been a member of numerous boards and scientific committees.

A photograph of Jim Skea


Mr Jim Skea CBE

Professor of Sustainable Energy, Imperial College London

Jim Skea CBE is Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London with research interests in energy, climate change and technological innovation. He is Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III for the 6th assessment cycle. He was Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre 2004-12 and Director of the Policy Studies Institute 1998-2004. He was a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change from its inception in 2008 until 2018. He is currently chairing Scotland’s Just Transition Commission. Until June 2017, he was President of the UK Energy Institute.

A photograph of Nathalie Seddon


Ms Nathalie Seddon

Professor of Biodiversity, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Nathalie Seddon is Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford. She is also Founding Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, an interdisciplinary programme of research, policy advice, and education aimed at increasing understanding of the effectiveness of nature-based solutions to global challenges. After training as an evolutionary ecologist at Cambridge University, she developed broad research interests in understanding the origins and maintenance of biodiversity and its relationship with global change.  She is also Senior Associate of the International Institute for Environment and Development and advises governments, UN agencies and businesses on Nature-based Solutions.