With less than a decade to address critically climate change and the other UN SDGs, the pressure is on to find innovative and inclusive solutions. The pre-COVID US$2-3 trillion annual SDG financing gap in developing economies has increased to an estimated $4-5 trillion per year. Given this financing gap, the global financial system is positioned to play an integral and increasingly important role in addressing the gap. However, much of the architecture of the global financial system was built without designing for the unique needs of developing economies, designing for environmental responsibility, gender equality, or equality more broadly.
The Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement has promoted rebuilding the financial system to consider these risks better, but even deeper integration of these considerations is fundamental for post-COVID recovery and deceleration of climate change. And both of these battles are fundamentally intertwined with gender equality:
Building ‘Forward’ Better: The COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts worldwide, and the climate crisis have jointly exacerbated the regressive effects on gender inequality – as a result, the eradication of the global gender pay gap is now set back by over a century. Women were almost twice as likely to lose their livelihoods during the pandemic, due to various factors such as disproportionate childcare burdens to labor market asymmetries. Building forward better underscores an opportunity to redress these failures and re-structure economies that better integrate and empower women. Closing the gender-regressive gap in the workforce could add up to US$13 trillion to global GDP by 2030. In light of this substantial economic impact, gender equality must be central to post-COVID recovery.