It is well documented that women, particularly those in developing countries, are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Despite this stark reality, female voices are often absent when it comes to making climate change policy. Women made up only 38% of the delegates at COP28 and represented a mere 15 of the 133 world leaders at the Dubai conference last year.

It seems illogical that those who will be most endangered by the impacts of climate change have very little say in environmental policy-making. How can we expect such policy to account for the gendered impacts of climate change, when 50% of the population is not equally represented in the decision-making process?

It is not just policy. Women are poorly represented in senior positions across the climate and environment sectors. Why is this? Education is a contributing factor. While attitudes are changing - thank you Greta Thunberg - historically women have not been encouraged to study STEM, geography or politics. This, in conjunction with the vast, well-documented barriers that prevent women from obtaining leadership roles generally, has resulted in an absence of senior female voices in key environmental and natural capital organisations.

I feel this keenly as an environmental consultant for leading peatland restoration consultancy Caledonian Climate. While incredibly fortunate to have a supportive employer that actively recruits women and supports our career ambitions, this progressive approach is not the norm in our sector with female role models few and far between.

The women I do come across who hold positions of influence in the sector are remarkable. Bringing a wealth of knowledge, resilience, pragmatism, and compassion for the devastation inflicted by the climate crisis, these women possess the vital skills, personal attributes and drive to address the climate crisis. My experience is supported by a report published by the European Investment Fund, which found female-led businesses had higher environmental, social and governance scores, and were more likely to invest in renewable energy. Evidence suggests female leaders place climate action high on the agenda. It is this attitude, commitment and intentionality that are so needed to reach global net-zero goals.

As investment in nature-based solutions grows, and the natural capital market expands, it is crucial to address the representation of women in the sector. Nature-based solutions are a means to support biodiversity, conserve vital ecosystems and build resilience to the consequences of climate change, ultimately protecting the communities, specifically women, from the harshest effects of extreme weather conditions. In my opinion at least, there is clearly no disputing that female voices should be front and centre of this emerging industry.

As long as we lack female representation in environmental leadership - be it in nature-based investments, renewable organisations, or green policy - women will continue to be disproportionately harmed by the climate crisis. Now more than ever, we should be inspiring girls to study environmental and climate sciences, and appointing women into senior "green" roles. Our voices are essential to reducing global greenhouse emissions, making meaningful headway toward net-zero goals, and creating a safer planet for all. 

Jura MacMillan is an Environmental Consultant at Caledonian Climate

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