Akrumah, who works to support grassroots climate adaptation efforts in Ghana, spoke exclusively with edie’s publisher Luke Nicholls on Monday (4 December) at COP28 in Dubai. This is the themed day in the Presidency’s agenda dedicated to gender equality.

CARE International has claimed that just 11% of the world leaders present at COP28, and just 38% of the climate summit’s wider registered delegates list of more than 100,000 attendees, are female.

Reacting to these numbers, Akrumah said: “Honestly, the conversation about women and inclusivity has to go beyond the numbers that are represented. They need to look at the quality of their participation… they need to impact the direct processes here.

“We do need to double the numbers. We need to multiply the numbers [more], in fact… [But we must be] leading things, not just joining things or… some kind of tokenism. We are not interested in that.

“We need to lead the discussions. We need to lead the solutions.”

Akrumah explained that having more meaningful discussions at COPs, led by women and other marginalised groups from climate-impacted communities in the Global South, could mean faster and more equitable implementation of top-line pledges.

She argued that people on the frontlines no longer want to see commitments from wealthy nations for funding to be provided in the future, following a litany of broken promises. Instead, they want confirmation once the money is in place, and assurance that it is truly accessible.

Funding from governments has taken the majority of the COP28 headlines, including more than $700m of commitments to a landmark Loss and Damage fund.

Akrumah welcomed the initial commitments despite acknowledging that far greater levels of funding are needed. She also said that the private sector also has a role to play, stating: “The thing about the private sector, generally, is that they have the power of funding. So beyond government funding, the private sector is one of the power players.”

She called on edie readers and listeners to “mainstream climate-friendly business practices” in a way that integrates with broader ESG issues including gender equality.

“You don’t exclude women and then think about it later,” she concluded.

Today’s COP28 Presidency themes place finance and gender equality beside each other. CARE revealed today that less than 1% of bilateral climate finance from the UK targeted gender equality in 2022.

edie at COP28

Want more exclusive content from the grounds of COP28? edie is running a daily podcast show live from the ground in Dubai, featuring exclusive interviews with some of sustainability’s sharpest mindsCheck out the COP28 Covered podcast here.

We’re also running a live blog during COP28. From a rousing speech from King Charles to new international declarations on health and agriculture, the COP28 Live Blog gives you everything you need to know about each day at the Summit.

View all of edie’s COP28 content here. 

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