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Companies and investors are increasingly committing to promoting gender equality as it presents an enormous opportunity for economic and business growth. Almost 350+ AVPN members have stated gender equality as one of their priorities. As evidenced by the IFC, gender equality has been increasingly considered an integral part of impact investing, and investors’ interest in impact investing has reached $26 trillion— $21 trillion in publicly traded stocks and bonds, and $5 trillion in private markets. At the same time, companies and investors are also committing to net zero pledges.
“We believe that if we don’t address gender and climate jointly, we undermine both agendas. By integrating the two, we can amplify the impact of both.” – White Paper: W+ carbon markets
The cost of inaction is high. To reach the scale required for fast climate results, we cannot afford to exclude the knowledge, skills and networks of women by neglecting their contributions to tackle climate change, nor ignore the threats climate change poses to global gains in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The business case for gender equality shows that gender balance across green sectors and the greening of sectors will enable businesses to more easily respond to transition demands, increase profitability and shift business models. The W+ Standard, developed by WOCAN, is a methodology inspired by and modelled on those used to measure carbon emissions reductions. It is a unique mechanism that can be used by companies, projects and investors to measure, quantify, verify and report on women’s empowerment impacts. It can be used in combination with carbon standards to scale up the private voluntary carbon market in a way that addresses SDG5 through the purchase of credits that support both emissions-reduction and women’s empowerment.
If the upscaling of the carbon market also provides new sources of investment to develop carbon credits in advance of their issuance for carbon mitigation projects, as is proposed, this is a golden opportunity to assure that women are engaging in and benefiting from these projects, as entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, consumers and members of women-led cooperatives and groups. By using and building on the W+ Standard, both objectives are achieved. Investors, companies and carbon credit buyers should become aware of the existence of the W+ Standard and its processes, and see its value in promoting both climate and gender global agendas to bring about a transformative change.
This article summarises key highlights from a panel discussion at the AVPN South Asia Impact Capital Festival 2021. The panel invited carbon project developers such as Richie Ahuja, Senior Director, Global Climate at Environmental Defense Fund, and Sandeep Choudhury, Co-Founder at VNV Advisory Services to share examples of carbon projects in South Asia where their projects directly benefit women. Nisha Onta, Regional Coordinator for Asia at WOCAN urged participants to go beyond case study reporting to measure the impact of their innovative finances on the lives of women.