Women and Climate

By Michelle Li, Founder, Clever Carbon & Woman and Climate, United States

August 31, 2023

The topic of gender imbalance is well-sung in the climate space, especially in relation to the Conference of Parties (COP).

At COP26 in Glasgow, women represented only 37% of attendees forming part of an official national delegation. For COP27, 10 out or 17 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) constituted bodies had women’s membership of 35% or less.

Gender imbalance is systemic to the climate industry and while change among leadership delegations will take time, simpler solutions like increasing visibility of women-led solutions and amplifying women thought leadership can be accomplished.

Women and Climate, a non-profit community focused on uplifting the voices of women in climate, is addressing gender imbalance in climate by creating a Speaker Database. In 2021, women accounted for only 29% of total speaking time at COP26 and at COP27, I witnessed personally the huge opportunity for more women to speak at COP. Free for any women to sign-up, no matter their level of experience, the database aims to provide a central platform to facilitate gender balance at climate events and for women working on climate solutions to easily have their work and speaking topics showcased.

At launch in May 2023, the Speaker Database represented 120 women; today, there are over 500 women across 40 climate topics and 42 countries. Speakers are able to indicate availability to speak at key conferences including NYC Climate Week and COP28, making it even easier for event organizers to source experts for their programming. 

Having a database is fine and dandy, but it’s only helpful if it is widely known. Women and Climate helps promote speakers and the database by creating personalized social media assets for speakers and providing template copy, making it easy for speakers to promote their speaking topics and the database itself. 

Key to the database is the presence of prominent women climate leaders, many of whom have joined the database, supporting and uplifting fellow women speakers. Of 517 speakers currently in the database, 44 speakers are categorized as “Speaker Circuit”, meaning that they speak on a regular basis and are often paid to speak.

As we look ahead to COP28 taking place in Dubai November 30th to December 12th, gender equity, parity, and balance, is top of mind. With the appointment of two women in key roles at COP28 including Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of Community Development, and Razan Al Mubarak, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as Youth Climate Champion and UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, there is huge potential for unprecedented growth in attendance, visibility, and leadership roles of women at COP. The world is watching and our speakers wait eagerly.