Women Leading on Green: a female perspective on sustainable planning

Celebrating International Women’s Day, the EBRD Green Cities team, together with the Gender and Economic Inclusion (GEI) team, held the first EBRD Green Cities’ webinar of the year, Women Leading on Green, on Thursday.


Greening cities is key to solving the problem of climate change, as cities are responsible for about three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions. The successful €2-billion-plus EBRD Green Cities programme, now grouping 45 cities investing in a more sustainable future and aiming to expand to 100 cities, incorporates both gender equality and digitalisation planning in its blueprint.


With women disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, the perspectives that women can bring to green leadership have never been more important.


Sharing a range of success stories on gender-responsive design and employment opportunities, this webinar asked: how do Green Cities facilitate gender inclusion? how can we work together to support more women taking green leadership roles?


Forming part of the EBRD’s week-long GEI-led #IWD2021 programme around International Women’s Day on 8 March, our panel of women experts discussed scaling up on gender-inclusive climate action and city planning for both sustainability and crisis recovery, and how to effectively “lead on green”.


EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso’s opening speech set out the development bank’s three strategic priorities for 2021-25 – green, gender and inclusion, and digitalisation – and the linkages between them.


“There are no trade-offs. Gender has to be integrated into everything we do when supporting a green economy,” added the EBRD’s Director for Gender and Economic Inclusion, Barbara Rambousek, explaining the green and gender agenda in more detail:


“If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to also tackle inequality, particularly gender equality. Gender is not an afterthought. It has to be fully integrated. Building gender and inclusion into our green investments is the way forward.”


“In relation to gender and Green Cities, over the past year we have fully integrated a gender lens across the Green Cities programme. That starts at the beginning. We sit with designers to see what problems a city faces. We establish how gender can be built into both the assessment of problems faced and the solutions – particularly with regard to infrastructure, transport, but also water services and municipal services,” she said.


“A second big issue we look at is how women are placed to get green jobs. That is a huge piece of work that we also fully integrate into our assessments. A third element is decision-making – making sure women are represented at the right levels around the right tables to be part of the decision-making process about what are the most appropriate solutions. This has already started in many cities including Almaty, Balti, Novi Sad and others.”


“Our gender smart tagging process looks specifically and finds solutions for gaps. One example is Tbilisi, one of our leading Green Cities, where we specifically focused on the question of safe transport by tacking gender-based violence and harassment in various ways. At the same time we provide opportunities for women to work in the transport sector – and so far 22 women have passed the bus driver test in Tbilisi. And we want to go further, with gender-responsive design of affordable housing, for instance, and better inclusive transport standards to be introduced. There’s a lot more to come.”


A sparkling panel of guest speakers was drawn from city planning authorities in the EBRD Green Cities family and beyond.


Janet Ågren, Deputy Mayor of Umeå, Sweden, talked about lessons learned in 30 years of gender-equal city management, describing Umea’s holistic understanding of sustainability and advocating sharing experience and knowledge to move the green and gender-responsive agenda forward.


And Rania Hedeya, country programme manager for UN-Habitat in Egypt, talked about the role gender-sensitive planning has in designing projects in Cairo.


“When we design our projects we have a gender checklist to help us make sure that the gender lens is well embedded. We do that from the beginning, from conceptualisation and project design to monitoring. In some cases I feel we do much more than that.”


“One is our first bus rapid transit system, connecting two city regions that move 130,000-140,000 passengers. We wanted to build a system that would encourage women to feel comfortable using the system and understanding their needs. We partnered with UN Women to do surveys to make sure we understood the patterns of mobility of women, their needs and travel patterns. What came out very strongly was that an important issue for women was safety, despite the fact that they cannot always afford the safest mode of transportation: well lit streets around the terminals and stations, also systems to be able to report misconduct. So our project took all these elements into consideration, and the whole system reflected these elements – design, lighting, all of it.”


Etuna Lomadze, Head of Municipal Policy, Batumi City Hall, Georgia – Batumi put the first EBRD Green Cities electric bus fleet on the road – called for more advocacy to move the green and gender agenda forward: “It’s about awareness-raising to explain to people it’s to their benefit.”


Hedeya also focused on the need to include women in planning more sustainable city infrastructure that will better support their future: “If we don’t engage women it means we drop 50% of the population’s needs and capacities. It does nobody any good to do that. When we talk about environment, sustainability, resilience and all these issues it is for our planet, it is for our own good, and our children’s and grandchildren’s good. So making people understand the values we are talking about and the value added and the effect on their own lives and the lives of the people they love is the most important thing.”


Clarity and simplicity were vital, she added. “We often go into places where the exposure of people to these issues is limited. When you start talking about the environment, some of the words - you know, those people struggle hard to make ends meet on a daily basis - the issue feels a bit far away from them unless you make them understand the direct effect on their own lives.”


Summing up a lively and engaging discussion, Lin O’Grady, co-leader of EBRD Green Cities, highlighted the value of perseverance, patience and persuasion in building cities for tomorrow that are both green and gender-responsive.


Article by Vanora Bennett


To access the EBRD Green Cities: The Green Frontier webinar recording please press here.

New trolleybuses hit the road in Balti, Moldova - 01.04.21

Noile troleibuze au fost puse în circulație la Bălți - 01.04.21

Policies to make your city greener - 31.03.21

Women Leading on Green: a female perspective on sustainable planning - 11.03.21

Green City Mayor Erion Veliaj honoured as a hero of sustainable mobility - 03.03.21

Public consultation on draft GCAP for Belgrade - 25.02.21

Balti launches public consultation on environmental challenges - 20.02.21

Helping Polish ex-coal mining city of Wałbrzych revitalise its economy - 14.01.21

Amman to introduce new bus fleet under EBRD Green Cities programme - 31.12.20

مدينة عمان تطرح أسطولاً جديداً من الحافلات في إطار برنامج المدن الخضراء التابع للبنك الأوروبي لإعادة

Chisinau landfill revamp financed by EBRD, EIB, EU, its members, Moldova and Norway - 16.12.20

EBRD lends Ankara bus company €57.1 million to renew bus fleet - 10.12.2020

Electric buses for a greener Batumi - 04.12.20

Warszawa rozpoczyna prace nad „Planem działań na rzecz środowiska i klimatu” - 03.12.2020

Work starts on Warsaw’s Green City and Climate Action Plan - 03.12.20

New “GCAP 2.1” announced at sixth EBRD Green Cities webinar - 24.11.20

Flagship EBRD Green Cities doubles in size - 19.11.2020

Дан старт работе проекта «План действий «Зеленый город» (ПДЗГ)» - 10.11.20

Kick-off meeting for Dushanbe's Green City Action Plan - 10.11.20

EBRD, EU and multi-donor E5P-financed electric “green” buses arrive in Batumi - 20.10.2020

Green and inclusive: EBRD Green Cities webinar - 20.10.20

Ceremony marks Split becoming 41st EBRD Green City - 16.10.20

Putting 'Nature, people and planet at the heart of our economy' - 07.10.2020

EBRD and EU finance solid waste management in western Ukraine - 07.10.2020

Global Infrastructure Forum: panel on Green Cities and Smart Solutions - 07.10.20

How ‘smart’ can keep cities safer from pandemics- 07.07.2020

The Green Frontier Webinar - 01.07.20

Transition to Recovery Webinar - 09.06.20

EBRD welcomes Chisinau’s Green City Action Plan - 04.06.2020

EBRD welcomes Iasi, Romania, as 42nd Green City - 04.06.2020

EBRD finances modernisation of Tbilisi metro - 30.04.2020

It's good to talk: an impressive first EBRD Green Cities webinar - 29.04.2020

COVID-19: A message of solidarity - 15.05.2020

East Kazakhstan leadership act to transform two cities - 12.02.2020


How Pristina can become a Green City - 24.09.2019

Novi Sad in Serbia to buy 30 CNG buses with €7m loan in EBRD urban greening programme - 23.08.2019

EBRD to improve water supply in Banja Luka - 13.09.2019

Shymkent joins EBRD Green Cities programme - 22.07.2019

Building a Better and More Sustainable Future for Cities - 08.07.2019

Cairo becomes 30th participant in fast-growing EBRD Green Cities - 03.07.2019

Green Climate Fund makes €87 million available to EBRD Green Cities - 2.7.2019

EBRD helps Moldova’s second largest city buy more new trolleybuses -03.06.2019

Fast-growing EBRD Green Cities signs up its 25th city - 08.05.2019

The Pearl of the Black Sea Goes Green - 28.03.2019

Skopje joins EBRD’s Green Cities programme - 27.03.2019

Kiev joins innovative EBRD Green Cities programme - 18.03.2019

EBRD to finance low-emission buses for Skopje - 29.01.2019

Podgorica joins EBRD Green Cities - 20.12.2018

Ulaanbaatar joins EBRD Green Cities - 30.11.2018

Preparing Zenica hospital for the future - 12.10.2018

EBRD and international donors improve solid waste management in Lviv - 01.06.2018

Amman joins EBRD Green Cities programme - 09.05.2018

EBRD’s Green Cities Framework kicks off in Minsk - 04.05.2018

Green buses on the streets of green city Tbilisi - 19.12.2017

EBRD puts on the heating in Banja Luka 13.11.2017

Tbilisi Green City Action Plan approved by local authorities - 29.09.2017

EBRD and multi-donor E5P fund to finance electric “green” buses for Batumi - 14.07.2017

EBRD provides €25 million loan to Sarajevo water - 11.05.2017

Show us your green #EBRDcity - 21.03.2017

Making Chisinau greener - 06.12.2016

How to become a Green City - 17.10.2016

Varna Green City Action Plan Stakeholder Workshops - 09.04.2021

Balti workshop on prioritising environmental challenges - 18.03.2021

EBRD Green Cities and GEI Webinar: Women Leading on Green - 11.03.2021

Warsaw Green City and Climate Action Plan (GCCAP) Launch Event - 03.12.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar #6: Creating Green Resilience in Cities - 24.11.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: Hand in Hand – Green and Inclusive Recovery - 20.10.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: Green Cities - smart solutions - 07.10.2020

Varna GCAP Public Consultation - 28.09.20 to 30.09.20

2020 Annual Assembly of ICLEI Taiwan Members & Sustainable City Forum - 29.07.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: a Green Frontier - 01.07.2020

Pristina GCAP Public Consultation - 05.06.20 & 08/09.06.20

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: Transition to Recovery - 09.06.2020

Sofia GCAP Public Consultation - 27.04 - 27.05.2020

Sarajevo GCAP Public Consultation - 26.03 - 30.04.2020

World Urban Forum: EBRD Green Cities Linking Planning, Technology and Investment - 11.02.2020

Skopje GCAP Implementation - 24.01.2020

COP25 Event: EBRD Green Cities delivering policy and investments to scale up climate finance

Craiova GCAP Launch - 3.10.2019

Pristina GCAP Launch - 24.09.2019

Amman Green Actions Planning- 22.07.2019

Banja Luka GCAP Implementation - 11.07.2019

Ulaanbaatar Green Actions Planning - 27.06.2019

Sarajevo Green Actions Planning - 11.06.2019

Sarajevo Green City Action Plan Launch - 12.02.2019

Amman Prioritisation of Green Challenges - 11-12.06.2019

Minsk Green Actions Planning - 05.06.2019

Gyumri Green Actions Planning - 05.06.2019

Lviv Green Actions Planning - 29.05.2019

Batumi Green Actions Planning - 22.05.2019

Izmir GCAP Kick-Off Meeting - 2.05.2019

EBRD Green Cities: Building a better and more sustainable future for cities - 04.07.2019

Chisinau Green Actions Planning - 19.4.2019

Lviv Prioritisation of Green Challenges - 17.4.2019

Sarajevo Prioritisation of Green Challenges - 16.04.2019

Banja Luka Green Actions Planning - 12.04.2019

Sofia Green Actions Planning - 10.04.2019

Zenica Green Actions Planning - March 27 - 29 2019

Skopje GCAP Kick-Off Meeting - 27.03.2019

EBRD Sector Strategy Consultations - March 12 – 22 2019

Ulaanbaatar Prioritisation of Green Challenges- 06.03.2019

Batumi Prioritisation of Green Challenges- 28.02.2019

Amman GCAP Launch - 25.02.2019

Sarajevo GCAP Launch - 12.02.2019