Opening remarks by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at Rising Above the Heat: Forging Women-Led Solutions to Heat Stress at COP28, 4 December 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Secretary Clinton, Minister Tabuya, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp, Eleni Myrivili, guests:
As you know, climate change is threatening societies, economies, and people. It has reshaped the planet, including through the dangerous impacts of heat stress. With 2023 on track to be the hottest year on record, the risks are growing to public health, agriculture, water resources, biodiversity, and economic productivity.
Adding to this disturbing reality is the disproportionate effect of heat stress on women.
I. The challenge of heat stress on women in Asia and the Pacific
Imagine the life of a young woman in Asia and the Pacific.
She works in a factory, in the fields, or an informal workplace in worsening conditions. Her hours may increase because others will not work during heat waves. Due to social norms, she may not be able to find shade, or wear lighter clothing. When her family becomes ill from heat, the burden of care falls on her. If she is pregnant, the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth will increase due to the heat. She may also be exposed to a greater risk of gender-based violence.
My friends, as the world talks about the need to build resilience to climate change, it cannot overlook the impact of heat stress on women. As I have said before, development is no longer possible without addressing climate change. Just as important, addressing heat stress is not possible without focusing on women.
II. ADB’s support to women’s resilience to heat stress
And so, I am proud to announce a strong step toward answering that call. Today we are launching a $3.8 million, 3-year technical assistance project to strengthen women's resilience to heat stress.
ADB will invest in knowledge about the gendered impacts of heat stress on economies, productivity, health, food security, and violence. We will support our developing member countries on heat action planning that is gender-responsive, and identify solutions that governments can invest in.
We will work initially in five countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan.
This work has the potential to inform billions of dollars of investment in building resilience against heat. These investments, across many sectors, will help to preserve productivity and protect women, who are key drivers of economies and societies.
I am pleased to announce this initiative with Arsht Rock. We look forward to working with them as part of the Global Shield Financing Facility to support insurance to women for heat resilience. I thank Secretary Clinton for her critical contributions to this initiative.
My friends, our work together shows us that meeting the challenges of heat stress can also be an opportunity to build a more equitable and sustainable future. I am optimistic about this future because of our partnership.
I look forward to learning about the outcomes of this project. I am sure they will be reflected not only in the resilience of the things we build, but in the lives of the women and girls we serve.
Thank you very much.