Today, powerful female leaders from both the private and public sector gathered in New York City to discuss their growing global power to tackle climate change and deliver on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
The inaugural Women4Climate conference in New York City convened 15 C40 mayors – from cities including Paris; Mexico City; Durban; Cape Town; Tokyo; Bangalore; Caracas; Washington, D.C. and more - as well as execs from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal and Suez, to discuss ways to support and mobilize the next generation of female leaders in the fight against climate change.
Hosted by Paris Mayor and C40 Chair Anne Hidalgo at Columbia University, the first-of-its-kind, half-day event
officially launched the C40 Women4Climate initiative, a major new effort by the C40 Cities network that aims to:
- Empower & Inspire: Contribute to the emergence of the next generation of climate leaders by sharing knowledge and experiences through a global mentorship program dedicated to women in C40 cities. The young women involved will be guided by C40 mayors and committed leaders from business, international organizations and civil society. The program will provide the women involved with the tools they need to develop themselves and their activities.
- Inform & Raise Awareness: Highlight the key role women play in the development and championing of climate policies. C40 will undertake research to fill the knowledge gap about the interplay between gender, cities and climate. The results will be instrumental in helping cities deliver inclusive climate action plans.
- Drive Action: Support future climate leaders by launching an annual challenge dedicated to awarding women researchers and entrepreneurs on the best innovations in climate and sustainability.
- Influence: Achieve visibility and thought leadership to motivate and inspire women around the world to become leaders in business, government and climate-focused organizations. We will hold ambitious events to showcase the thought leadership achievements of the Women4Climate Initiative, inform the wider conversation around women and climate and create a new vocation among future leaders.
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“Women leaders were instrumental in securing the Paris Climate Agreement and women mayors of C40 cities are stepping up to help ensure their nations reach their goals,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, C40 President of the Board and U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. “Women leaders at companies and non-profits are also speeding our progress, and I’m glad to say that includes the CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Patti Harris, and the head of our environment program, Antha Williams.”
Across the globe women are leading climate action: Former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, French Minister of Environment Ségolène Royal, and Ambassador of France for Climate Change Negotiations Laurence Tubiana were the architects of the historic Paris Agreement; women held six of the most influential positions at the COP22 global climate talks last year in Morocco; the number of C40 cities with female mayors has increased from four to fifteen since 2014; and a UN-backed initiative launched in April aims to encourage female execs across the world to bring climate change concerns into boardrooms.
“Women are more likely to work in industries that will be affected by a changing climate, such as agriculture,” said Durban Mayor Zandile Gumede. “That is why women need to help lead this fight, to ensure that the environment and the future generations are protected.”
“Every week I meet inspiring young women from business, NGOs and politics, who are determined to change the world,” said Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “If our cities and climate are in their hands, then it makes me very confident for the future.”
The role of cities in fighting climate change will likely grow in the coming years, as federal efforts to do so – especially here in the U.S. – are likely to wane under the new administration, which is preparing to release a wide-ranging executive order to reduce the role that climate change plays in policy decisions.
During the conference, Jainey Bavishi, director of New York City's Office of Recovery and Resiliency, who worked on climate resilience under the Obama administration, called the changes likely under the Trump administration "the elephant in the room.”
"Cities have an incredibly important role to play, not only in the United States but around the world," she said. "We had the privilege – not only New York City, but cities across the United States – of having a close partnership with Washington, D.C. over the last eight years, and clearly things are changing."
Cities across the world are already taking initiative: At the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City in December, the City – along with Paris, Madrid and Athens - pledged to remove all diesel vehicles by 2025, as part of an effort by mayors to improve the quality of air for citizens. The pledge also includes a plan to incentivize alternative vehicles and promote walking and cycling infrastructure, helping to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement.