Women-led teams receive unique catalyst grants for climate action

New climate action

Seven winning project teams for gender equity and climate action were announced today, 4 December, at an event at COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The TWAS-Elsevier Foundation Project Grants for Gender Equity and Climate Action are designed to strengthen gender equity, address the climate-related needs of local communities, and apply scientific knowledge to real-life scenarios.

The focus areas of the seven winning projects’ range from mangrove restoration to sustainable land management to climate change adaptation as an empowerment tool for women. They are led by women scientists from Benin, Bolivia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and will each receive approximately US$25,000.

The projects are entirely led and conducted by women. Six grants will be supported with funding from the Elsevier Foundation, a long-standing partner of TWAS in efforts to increase support for women scientists in the global South. In addition, the Elsevier Journal Energy Economics will provide funding for a seventh grant aimed at investigating women in leadership, gender-responsive climate change adaptation, and food security in Zimbabwe.

The Climate Action and Gender catalyst grants are awarded to teams of between two and five women for scientific projects with the potential to produce tangible change. The leader of each project is a woman scientist, living and conducting scientific work in one of the 66 countries identified by TWAS as requiring assistance in strengthening research capacity. Their team members are either scientists or technical experts in a field relevant to the project, from any developing country. Sustainable Development Goal 13, which calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, will guide the projects.

Ylann Schemm, Executive Director of the Elsevier Foundation, said: “What makes these grants unique is their emphasis on tangible projects which provide local science-based solutions, and their focus on women, who are bearing the brunt of climate change across the global South. It is crucial that women scientists are part of the response to the biggest challenge of our time. We are extremely proud to partner with TWAS on making this vital investment in gender equality as we look to tackle climate change together.”

Quarraisha Abdool Karim, TWAS President, said: “These grants highlight that excluding half the world’s population in tackling complex global challenges is a luxury we can no longer afford. TWAS is pleased to partner with Elsevier on these Climate action grants to women in developing countries. We are delighted that the recipients of these TWAS-Elsevier project grants profile inspiring teams of women making important contributions to closing gender gaps in science and knowledge co-creation. The 2023 awards will enable seven teams of women across five countries to enhance their scientific, leadership and project management skills in addressing a diverse range of climate change challenges in their region and in their communities.”

A wealth of strong ideas .This year’s awardees reflect the demand for projects to address climate-related challenges in communities in the global South.

In 2022, the first year of the grants, the programme received 163 applications, and over 20 of those proposals were highly rated by the evaluators. Last year, the selection committee chose eight unique projects in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Bangladesh to receive these grants. Since TWAS and the Elsevier Foundation received so many high-quality applications for the grant, they opted to return to those proposals for this most recent series of awards in 2023 rather than open a new call—requesting updated proposals from the most highly rated 2022 applicants.

The review process included key input from women with climate expertise. All are IPCC scientists, and either are from developing countries or have experience with the challenges of the Global South. They were:

Head of IPCC Working Group I Technical Support Unit Anna Pirani of Italy,
IPCC Working Group II Contributing Author Shobha Poudel of Nepal, IPCC lead author Aïda Diongue-Niang of Senegal, and 2007 IPCC Nobel Prize co-winner Joyashree Roy, of India.

“As I read the amazingly creative proposals and see them getting funded,” said Roy, “I am becoming more optimistic about the role of ingenuity and women’s power in transforming the societies of the least developed countries.”

The announcement of the winners was made as part of a side event at the Greening Education Hub pavilion, organized by TWAS and Green Hope Foundation at COP28.

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