Investor group calls for gender smart climate finance at COP27

Aviva and GenderSmart to present letter to leaders asking to integrate gender metrics into climate finance reporting


Christine Dawson

GenderSmart co-founder Suzanne Biegel is working with Aviva Investors to gather signatures for a letter to be presented to world leaders at COP27 next month, “to motivate climate finance actors to get gender smart”.

This was one of the announcements from the GenderSmart 2022 Global Summit, which took place in London last week.

Biegel (pictured) said this would involve, “… improving women’s inclusion within the financial system and ability to access climate finance, integrating gender into public and private climate policy frameworks, developing gender metrics and integrating them into climate finance reporting… improving gender balance representation in decision-making roles in climate finance and climate smart businesses”.

Delegates at the GenderSmart 2022 Global Summit in London. Source: Coco Studio

Fund managers facing bias

Jessica Espinoza, CEO of the 2X Collaborative, which is due to be merging with GenderSmart, told ESG Clarity at the event that institutional investors displayed bias when choosing fund managers.

She said there is a whole new generation of women-led and diverse fund managers coming to market with their own investment funds that have a very intentional gender lens.

“They are really innovative in how they use finance to change the world,” she said.

However, there is a lot of bias against them as first-time fund managers with more of an unconventional track record and often with an innovative finance model, Espinoza explained.

“That’s a key obstacle hindering more capital from flowing towards where we actually need it to go.

“You have institutional investors allocating to fund managers and then the fund managers allocating to start-ups and companies at different growth stages.

“And we’re often talking about gender bias at this level of the companies but it’s actually perpetuated because the big institutional investors are backing traditional, male-led fund managers rather than the next generation of female and diverse fund managers that also have a very intentional gender lens.”

Espinoza said the concept behind the initiative 2X Ignite is to build a facility to unlock more capital towards these fund managers, which will have a multiplier effect of reaching underserved businesses.

Traction to transformation

The theme for the conference this year was “traction to transformation” and attendees were tasked with coming up with ways of making this a reality when it comes to gender lens investing.

In one workshop, looking at different scenarios for how the nexus between climate and gender could play out, delegates explored what investment solutions could be put in place for the different outcomes.

For example, looking at how to design for inclusion in a scenario where gender policy has become more widespread and extensive than climate policy.

Elsewhere in the workshops attendees discussed at which level in the market there was most an issue with gender data, which hinders gender lens investing.

Some argued it was at the data provider level and should be made more readily available by groups such as MSCI, while others said they saw it as more of an issue of transparency at the company level.

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