Climate change is the single greatest challenge of our generation. Today, more than 1.3 billion people live on failing agricultural land – where communities and individuals are faced with the risk of failed harvests, worsening hunger, poverty, and displacement.
Women, especially from underserved communities, bear the weight of climate-related shocks and stressors. When disaster strikes, women – not men – are more likely to be vulnerable. The United Nations (UN) estimates that 80% of people who are displaced by climate change are women. In particular, women that rely on subsistence living face the most difficulty to cope with climate stressors and its related economic shocks.
The bad news? The clock is ticking for climate change with the deadline for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals only a decade away.
The good news? We can change the narrative from women as victims of climate change to women as solutions to climate action.
The key to building greater climate resilience in communities around the world is to invest in women and girls – accounting for 51% of the world’s population – to become solutions through sustainable livelihoods. Importantly, achieving gender equality and empowering women will have a ripple effect on the other SDGs – a notion frequently backed by the UN, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the World Bank.
Why women? Women have a deep understanding of the practical solutions needed to adapt to a changing climate. In agricultural economies, women play an important role as procurers of water, cooking fuel and other household resources. Elsewhere, women are typically first-responders to natural disasters, standing in the frontlines of disaster-risk reduction and post-recovery. As global warming causes long-lasting changes to our environment, inclusive solutions at different scales are needed to limit global temperature increase while also helping underserved communities strengthen their capacity to adapt to climate change.
Impact enterprises are innovating solutions to address climate change and women’s empowerment – like ATEC Biodigesters. Based in Cambodia, ATEC Biodigesters produces, sells, and distributes the world’s first commercial biodigester that can be installed in any environment. Through the biodigesters, women in rural Cambodia access clean technology, reduce their exposure to air pollutants from wood-based fuel, and reduce their time spent on basic household chores.
In order to impact more women, Impact Investing Exchange (IIX) created the award-winning Women’s Livelihood Bond™ 1 – the world’s first impact investment product focused on women to be listed on a stock exchange and quoted on Bloomberg. The debt security itself is an innovative financial instrument that mobilizes private sector capital for positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns through investments in women-focused enterprises.
More than 385,000 women in Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines were provided with access to credit, enhanced linkages to supply chains, and affordable goods and services to improve their livelihoods. With the support from the Women’s Livelihood Bond, women like Gina in the Philippines were able to access the finance she needs to take her business – a sustainable local farm – to the next level and make ripples of progress within her community.
Now in its second phase, IIX is launching the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ Series – a US$150M debt security set to empower more than 2 million women across South and Southeast Asia. The Series has been awarded for its contribution to creating sustainable impact and climate resilience for underserved communities, including the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Award and the 2019 P4G State-of-the-Art Partnership of the Year Award for Zero Hunger.
When paired with climate action, the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ Series can build the resilience of women to climate change through access to affordable credit, products such as disaster insurance, agricultural inputs for climate adaption, and clean and affordable energy for mitigation.
What can you do as an institutional investor? Invest in climate action solutions that focus on empowering women and making communities more climate resilient. Together, let’s tackle climate change by investing in women and supporting inclusive financial markets.