The energy transition provides opportunities for more inclusive and sustainable global growth – Atlantic Council

The energy transition provides opportunities for more inclusive and sustainable global growth – Atlantic Council

Maitha Al Shimmari, Jeanette Gitobu, Georgette Udo, and Lin Yuan

Women’s involvement in the energy transition is not just a matter of equity; it’s a strategic imperative for ensuring a sustainable and inclusive future. 

That was the main takeaway from the latest group of Women Leaders in Energy and Climate Fellows to go on their study tour to Washington, DC, an experience offered as part of their fellowship program. For this tour, the 2023 fellows met with government officials and civil society groups to discuss women’s participation to drive progress toward a cleaner and more efficient energy system. Below are our fellows’ takeaways from the trip—supported by the Royal Bank of Canada—touching upon how leaders should prioritize a more sustainable and inclusive environment for women in the energy sector to not only accelerate the adoption of cleaner technologies but also foster social equity and economic empowerment. 

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Maitha Al Shimmari

2023 Women Leader in Energy and Climate Fellow

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Jeanette Gitobu

2023 Women Leader in Energy and Climate Fellow

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Georgette Udo

2023 Women Leader in Energy and Climate Fellow

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Lin Yuan

2023 Women Leader in Energy and Climate Fellow

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The Women Leaders in Energy and Climate study tour in Washington, DC, was a transformative, inspirational, and thought-provoking experience. Throughout the week, we had the opportunity to engage in direct and open conversations with esteemed leaders from Iceland, Sweden, the UAE, and the United States who shared invaluable insights into global energy dynamics and climate challenges from their perspectives. 

The conversations underscored the critical role women play in shaping the energy transition. From navigating policy landscapes to driving innovation, it is evident that our voices are indispensable in addressing climate change. Each discussion emphasized the urgency and importance of cross-sector collective collaboration to combat ongoing geopolitical tensions and the global energy crisis. 

This experience has reaffirmed my commitment to advocating for sustainable solutions in the energy and climate sector. I am inspired to leverage my newfound knowledge and network to drive meaningful change in the upcoming years. The strong connections made with my fellows in the program and lessons learned will undoubtedly shape my approach as a woman leader in energy and climate. 

Maitha Al Shimmari is a 2023 Women Leader in Energy and Climate Fellow currently studying at the University of Oxford to obtain a DrPhil (PhD) in engineering science.

My week in Washington, DC, illuminated the pivotal role women play in the global energy transition. The welcome dinner and icebreaker fostered a collaborative spirit, setting the tone for shared insights.

Interactions with industry experts underscored the resonant theme that “energy security equals national security.” The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and Russia spotlighted the vulnerability of our energy systems, emphasizing the need for resilience in the face of geopolitical challenges.

The alumnae roundtable reinforced the idea that the energy sector’s success hinges on the full participation of women. Data-backed insights affirmed that diversity is not just a buzzword but a catalyst for better performance and innovative problem-solving.

As I reflect, the call for mentorship, networking, and capacity-building programs for women in the energy sector resounds. Collaboration across sectors emerges as the linchpin for maximizing results and ensuring accountability. 

Moving forward, I see my role not merely as an individual participant but as part of a collective force advocating for a more secure and sustainable energy future. This journey has affirmed the urgency of our mission, emphasizing that our actions today are intrinsically linked to the broader fabric of national security and global resilience. In this collaborative pursuit, energy security becomes synonymous with national security.

Jeanette Gitobu is a 2023 Women Leader in Energy and Climate Fellow who currently serves as the director of the Women in Wind Global Leadership Program and policy advisor on Africa at the Global Wind Energy Council.

The Women Leaders in Energy and Climate Fellowship has fostered career growth through trainings and coaching, bringing together a cohort of women passionate about championing change and soaring in their careers. At the midpoint of the fellowship, the cohort takes a study tour to garner experience and learn from key stakeholders in this field. This year we had the opportunity of having the tour in Washington DC.  

This tour reinforced the role energy plays in economies of the world, the role of women in contributing to energy transition, and the interrelationship between the government, the private sector, and education. I had the opportunity to learn about cross-sectoral pathways to net zero, meeting with high-level officials from Iceland, the United States, Sweden, and the UAE, distinguished alumni, and executives. The conversations revealed unique perspectives from these leaders, and I left inspired to continue leaving my mark as a woman in the energy sector. 

Georgette Udo is a 2023 Women Leaders in Energy and Climate Fellow and the CEO of the Renewable Energy for the African Girl Initiative.

The three-day study tour in Washington, DC, convened this year’s cohort of Women Leaders in Energy and Climate Fellows, and created a space for sharing diverse perspectives on the clean energy transition.

It was undeniable from the conversations with many global climate policy leaders that the shift to a low-carbon economy is creating a window for more inclusive and sustainable growth for both the Global North and South.

Through dialogues with leaders from the US Department of State, the Department of Energy, the International Trade Administration, and the Development Finance Corporation, we heard the importance of energy transition as a key driver of growth for the US economy and a central principle to the US diplomatic agenda. The push to expand the domestic low-carbon transportation and renewable energy manufacturing industries will create numerous opportunities for cross-sectoral and cross-border collaboration to ensure the resiliency of a worldwide green industrial supply chain. The flow of investments in the process could create a catalytic effect to elevate the economic, social, and environmental standards for development for many communities, particularly those in emerging markets.

The conversation with the Icelandic Ambassador Bergdís Ellertsdóttir and her team provides a hopeful beacon of what this development opportunity could look like. By embracing geothermal, hydropower, and the fledgling climate technology industry, Iceland has attracted significant foreign investments from Europe and the United States, and at the same time championed gender-inclusive development that led to the growth of women-led climate startups and women’s participation in the clean energy workforce.

While we recognized in our discussion there are limitations to the replicability of Iceland’s development model, one can imagine the potential for a more sustainable and inclusive future that will be unleashed through the wave of government policies and market-based incentives from the United States. and beyond. It is therefore crucial for public and private sector partners to collaboratively create the enabling conditions for investments, scale capital mobilization, and set the common standards for impact and safeguards to maximize the potential socioeconomic benefits brought by the global energy transition.  

Lin Yuan is a 2023 Women Leaders in Energy and Climate Fellow and an associate director at Pollination.

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