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World Future Energy Summit to spotlight rising role of women in a greener tomorrow

WFES will have a dedicated area for its Climate Innovations Exchange (CLIX) initiative. (Image source: WFES)

With this year marking the largest female participation in the 16-year history of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), the 2024 edition will serve as a barometer for the growing role of women across the entire energy ecosystem

Women feature prominently in the summit’s expansive conference programme, bringing a critical perspective to a range of issues from climate change to sustainable tourism, smart city technology to circular economy integration, workplace diversity to learnings from COP28.

The show, which is running at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 16-18 April, includes a dedicated area for its Climate Innovations Exchange (CLIX) initiative. The curated platform will give female-led, run, or founded startups, as well as SMEs and innovators, a powerful podium to demonstrate game-changing products and solutions to a global audience. Launched in 2018, CLIX supports the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment strategy to enable the sourcing and funding of climate change solutions and technologies.

Global growth through women empowerment

With the global community recently celebrating International Women’s Day (8 March), WFES’ commitment to equality and inclusivity across the future energy agenda has been strengthened by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) joining the summit as official insight supporter.

Crucially, the organisation’s latest data highlights that climate change disproportionately affects women and, as an extension, women-run businesses. The organisation’s intelligence also stresses that innovation remains key to mitigating and adapting to climate change, and that diverse teams are more innovative and perform better than homogenous groups.

According to UNIDO, enhancing the role of women as drivers of poverty reduction, promoting female investors and entrepreneurs, and recognising the link between gender equality and safeguarding the environment, all promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, thereby directly contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.

“To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we join the United Nations in celebrating the theme of Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. Women empowerment and advancement in tech and innovation are pivotal to accelerating progress towards the sustainable development and climate goals. By investing in women, we can spark change and speed the transition to a healthier, safer, and more equal world for all,” said Rana Ghoneim, chief, division of energy and climate action at UNIDO.

Leen AlSebai, general manager of RX Middle East and Head of WFES, added, “The high level of female participation – currently standing at approximately 30% of our speaker cast at this year’s World Future Energy Summit – directly supports our carefully curated CLIX initiative, which will shine additional light on the critical role women play in tackling climate change and promoting sustainability through technology, innovation, and ingenuity.”

Visionary women

WFES 2024 will also feature a dedicated panel discussion on female entrepreneurs leading decarbonisation innovation. The panel is expected to highlight some of the visionary women entrepreneurs contributing to global efforts to combat climate change and lead organisational decarbonisation efforts. From leveraging cutting-edge technology to fostering female leadership, they are driving impactful change on the path toward a 1.5°C world. Moderated by Jessica Robinson, MENA sustainable finance leader, EY-Parthenon, panellists include Medea Nocentini, founder, C3 (Companies Creating Change) and senior partner, Global Ventures; Angela Homsi, co-founder, Ignite Power; and Nawel Mahmoudi, co-founder and CEO, ValueGrid.

Speaking ahead of the event, Nocentin stressed the importance of supporting women-run SMEs and female innovators. “The significant funding gap in achieving net zero targets necessitates a bottom-up approach, with innovation taking centre stage. Empowering women founders to devise solutions that decrease emissions, foster capital efficiencies and drive cost savings in the global energy transition, in a scalable and sustainable manner, is paramount,” said Nocentin.

Amid a greater need for inclusive public engagement in climate change, Edurne Gil de San Vicente, programme director of the Water Alliance UAE, called for more equality and female representation in the global decarbonisation agenda.

“More than ever, the gender-gap in decarbonisation innovation should be addressed to support underrepresented talent that will help in accelerating sustainability transitions and building resilience,” said San Vicente, who is speaking at a session entitled Smart Water Perspectives for Liveable Smart Cities. “The World Future Energy Summit does exactly that with CLIX, an initiative enabling women-led start-ups to showcase and pitch their ground-breaking solutions to Middle Eastern and global investors.”

Joining a panel discussion aimed at driving corporate investment in decarbonisation, Jessica Scopacasa, co-founder of Olive Gaea, the Sustainability as a Service (SaaS) platform for the Middle East, North Africa and India, will probe the regulatory gaps in decarbonisation strategies.

“We need to address the challenge of regulation and enable organisations of any size to take measurable and effective climate action. From large enterprises to SMEs, we need everyone's contribution towards climate change mitigation efforts to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement by the global community,” said Scopacasa. “Hopefully we can identify policies that can encourage companies to decarbonise their operations, and support customers play a bigger role in sustainable development.”

The need for inclusivity in the global sustainability drive will be explored by Anne Marie Drod Thodsen, managing director of the sustainability and ESG advisory at The Umbrella Alliance.

“Whether the push comes from internal or external stakeholders, the need for positive impactful business behaviour is evident in all industries,” remarked Thodsen. “External stakeholders demand transparency and accountability in helping them contribute to sustainability while internal stakeholders want the ability to contribute actively, to discuss, to share and to lead even in challenging projects. At World Future Energy Summit, we will assess how ESG can make every business action interconnected.”

World Future Energy Summit 2024 is expected to host close to 400 exhibitors, attract more than 30,000 visitors, and feature over 350 speakers addressing solar, ecowaste, water, clean energy, climate and environment, and smart cities. This year will also see the addition of three new forums on The Pathway to 1.5C, Green Finance, and eMobility.

For more information on the event and how to get involved, visit:

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