BY FLAVIA HOWARD & ANAHITAA BAKSHI Dalberg Group

Dalberg has moved into the next phase of fulfilling its Climate Commitment—incorporating solutions to the climate crisis into all our project work globally while ensuring our own footprint reaches net zero quickly.

When Delhi-based consultant Devaki Banerjee was working on an impact case for eradication of violence against women and girls, she quickly discovered an unintuitive impact linkage: eradication of violence leads to better climate outcomes. This discovery was born from Dalberg’s practice of applying a climate lens to all its strategic advisory work.

A climate lens entails incorporating considerations of how accelerating effects of the climate and ecological crisis will impact different communities and delivering intentional climate analysis to explore the emissions implications, mitigation potential, and adaptation needs in the design and delivery of solutions and options that optimize for climate outcomes.

Approaching the project focused on eradicating violence against women and girls with a climate-focused mindset helped surface the breadth and depth of the connection between protecting the planet and reducing gender-based violence.

  • When violence against women and girls is prevented, women are more freely able to participate in and lead grassroots movements — including those on climate — effects of which are linked to better impact on areas such as forest and biodiversity conservation. For example, a one percent increase in representation of women’s voices in climate decision-making could lead to better climate decision making and a reduction of up to 8gt of carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Women experiencing violence are 53 percent more likely to have an unmet need for family planning. Girls who experience violence or grow up in households where violence against women and girls is prevalent are 24 percent more likely to drop out of school. Access to education and family planning gives women more control and choice over their health, education, and life decisions, and it can also help to avoid future consumption and emissions. The removal of barriers to education and desired needs for family planning could avoid an estimated 15 gigatons of emissions between 2020 and 2050.
  • Knowledge and fear of violence against women and girls in public spaces (such as street harassment and stalking) severely restricts women’s and girls’ choice to be mobile. If public spaces were safe, 50 percent more women and girls would prefer to use public transit. Greater use of public transport would help avoid emissions, relieve traffic congestion, and reduce air pollution. Women’s increased agency over their mobility could help avoid an estimated total of three gigatons of emissions between 2020 and 2050.

Overall, the team estimated that eliminating violence against women and girls — which today impacts 700-750 million people aged 15 and above — could avoid 27 gigatons of carbon emissions between 2020 and 2050. While this is an indicative number, this demonstrates the powerful parallels between gender equality and climate impact.

This work is one of many examples of how embedding the climate crisis and its implications into Dalberg’s work aligns with our overarching aim of supporting governments, businesses, and institutions to integrate climate action in their own strategy to help reduce emissions. Actions that curb environment and biodiversity loss and aid in the transition to a low-carbon and carbon-resilient economy can open up solutions that expand impact and go beyond net zero to restore, protect, and regenerate our planet.

As the above example shows, the utility of applying a climate lens is sometimes not obvious and intuitive in the beginning. Other times, the climate correlation is clear from the beginning but expertise beyond climate is needed to both develop and implement new solutions.

Take our work with the Clean Air Fund (CAF), a global philanthropic initiative focused on air pollution which became an opportunity to calculate the economic impact of the global climate crisis on India’s economy. There is a close link between air pollution and climate change. In 2019 alone, India experienced an estimated 1.2 million air pollution-related premature deaths. At the same time, India’s growing economy is driving CO2 emissions, which increased by more than 55% in the last decade, and are expected to rise by 50% to 2040. Alongside the CAF, we authored a public report that estimates the economic cost of air pollution in India at a staggering $95 billion USD, or 3 percent of the country’s GDP, proving that India’s notoriously poor air quality is not just a health or climate issue—it’s imperative to businesses’ bottom lines. The impact of these findings reach well beyond India, with relevance to global policymakers and the international business community. Moreover, our analysis showed that:

If India had achieved safe air quality levels in 2019, its GDP would have increased by $95 billion USD, or 3 percent, as Indian businesses would face lower costs and higher revenues.

  • India could have gained 1.4 billion working days by decreasing air-pollution-related sick leaves in 2019, translating into $6 billion USD in additional revenue for businesses. At current levels of pollution, employees tend to work overtime to compensate for lost output and for their absent colleagues, which can lead to burnout and attrition. The cognitive and physical performance of employees would be boosted by cleaner air, adding $24 billion USD per year to Indian business revenues.
  • When pollution levels spike, consumers often stay indoors. Bringing air quality up to safe levels in 2019 would have improved consumer footfall in commercial zones in Indian cities, unlocking $22 billion USD for consumer-facing businesses.
  • Bringing air quality to safe levels could lead to 1.7 million fewer premature deaths, according to figures collected in 2019, thereby preventing 18 percent of all deaths within India. The corresponding potential benefit to the Indian economy amounts to $44 billion USD.

Historically, air pollution has been seen as an unavoidable by-product of economic growth. Highlighting the impact of pollution on business profitability can motivate the private sector to become more strident advocates for clean air. Businesses, and their employees, stand to gain by mobilizing their resources to solve air pollution. While many companies have signed on to national and global emissions targets, our study proves there is room for the business communities to show a deeper commitment to accelerate action and ramp up their green ambitions by investing in clean air. Leaders in the private sector can take action by adopting renewable energy technology, campaigning for more ambitious pollution policies, mitigating emissions, and consistently moving toward “greening” business operations and supply chains.

So what happens when organizational needs directly conflict with climate goals? Historically, pathways of economic development have focused on industrial, carbon-intensive growth that are at odds with climate goals. Developing countries that choose a carbon-intensive route will not only veer off the target of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to the detriment of the future of the planet, but are also more likely to lock in old systems of power and economic disadvantage. As such, Dalberg generally strives to reframe climate action as an opportunity to create value such as by identifying low-carbon solutions that can enable sustainable development goals alongside a 1.5 degrees pathway.

When Dalberg worked with the government of an East African country to define its industrialization strategy, we supported its plans to embed green pathways to help avoid more carbon-intensive development. By implementing Dalberg’s climate lens toolkit – a resource and guide for consulting teams – we first identified a potential climate conflict, then reframed the strategy to be more sustainable and include climate-related policies the government could implement for better outcomes, in both revenue and resource protection. Our findings highlighted that:

  • They have the capacity to integrate green growth into its manufacturing strategy today and put the country at a competitive advantage to attract low-carbon investors and buyers.
  • Their combination of natural resources can be used as inputs into industrial processes, including the ability to generate 90 percent of its energy needs from renewable resources.
  • Developing a circular economy can help to strengthen domestic supply chains and reduce dependence on imports, while enabling the manufacturing-sector growth.
  • Targeting training for jobs in green industries, developing new skills for companies shifting to green models, and creating jobs that can enable the green-sector growth through technology and finance will help its workforce to build the skills for future growth.

The supply chains of the future need to be net zero and nature-positive; countries that can deliver that combination will have a competitive advantage in manufacturing. Adopting a climate lens in this project helped to re-frame environmental issues from a challenge and ‘tick-box’ exercise to meet Western import standards, to an opportunity that can expand future revenues and safeguard its valuable resources for domestic populations and future generations.

As the examples above highlight, Dalberg’s mindset around taking a climate lens has often resulted in better solutions for clients and allowed us to incorporate the changing world of the climate into our day-to-day work. We won’t always get it right — emissions will still occur and implementation does not always go according to plan. We also still have plenty to learn and improve upon ourselves.

Along our journey, we are committed to learning, sharing and taking even more ambitious steps in the future and to helping others do the same. If you would like to learn more about our climate lens or any of our climate work, please contact climate@dalberg.com.

Dalberg uses cookies and related technologies to improve the way the site functions. A cookie is a text file that is stored on your device. We use these text files for functionality such as to analyze our traffic or to personalize content. You can easily control how we use cookies on your device by adjusting the settings below, and you may also change those settings at any time by visiting our privacy policy page.