Harnessing Racial And Gender Justice To Amplify Action On Climate Change
In the past few months, the COVID-19 crisis and BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement have brought the concept of intersectional inequality to the fore. Across Europe and the Americas, people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 just as George Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe” became a clarion call for action on institutionalised racism across the world. Increasingly, we see how racial injustice intersects with gender and class injustice to create communities of people who are members of multiple disadvantaged communities. Any programme that targets injustice in one community – women, for example – is significantly more effective if it takes an intersectional approach. What implications does this have for gender and climate impact investment?
Recent protests in Washington DC have emphasized the ways in which environmental justice and racial justice intersect: people of colour are more likely to live near polluting industrial sites, for example, because they have no option. Across the world, it is indigenous communities who are at the sharp end of climate change impacts of food insecurity, wildfires, droughts and floods. People of colour are disproportionately impacted by climate change while in general contributing far less towards the causes of ecological destruction. Both injustices rest on the power imbalance that underlies institutional racism and climate change.
The two causes – environmental sustainability and racial justice – are deeply interlinked, just as issues of gender and climate are inextricably connected. Calls for a global Green New Deal seek an urgent decarbonization of the economy while dismantling these structures that disproportionally impact disadvantaged groups.
Investors looking to introduce a combined gender and climate lens into their portfolios need to consider intersecting inequalities as a whole. Women and gender issues have been pivotal in the emergence and evolution of the environmental justice movement. And directing finance through an intersectional justice lens has the potential to scale up and accelerate positive outcomes for marginal groups everywhere. At the same time, these demographics add value to investments through innovation from their lived experiences. Moreover, given the need for systemic transformation, financial Institutions are also uniquely positioned to create real change.
Gender and climate investment aren’t yet mainstreamed across many parts of the finance ecosystem. As we build our field, we have the opportunity to capitalise on this moment to ensure that lessons from racial and ethnic justice movements are applied to everything we do.
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