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Daring Circles
Climate Action


Laurence Pessez
Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility
BNP Paribas Group 

Laurence has been leading CSR at BNP Paribas since 2010. Under her leadership, the bank became in 2017 the n°1 bank in Europe for its sustainability performance, according to Vigeo-Eiris and was awarded World Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility by Euromoney in 2019. Prior to her current role, she occupied a variety of positions in communications, marketing, and HR in several other corporations. She is a Board member of the French think tank Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and of Finance for Tomorrow, the sustainable branch of the Paris Financial Center.

How can women amplify their impact on climate-related topics, and what is necessary to help them unite their efforts?

The key words here, in relation to the climate crisis, are certainly partnership and collaboration: the current climate emergency requires action at the government level to lead the transformation of our societies, action from businesses in designing products and climate solutions, and for each and every individual to change their lifestyles.

Collective action – through public-private partnerships and other initiatives that leverage the capabilities of different actors – will be vital to limiting global warming to well under 2°C. Gender must become a mainstream concern of all stakeholders so that a gendered lens is consistently applied across the actions undertaken to drive climate action. 

In that respect, it is important to ensure that women are equally represented in the driver’s seat and that their voices are heard. This was one of the targets of the Charter for Engagement Women and Climate.

How important is collaboration to having an impact on this issue? What role does an initiative like the Women & Climate Daring Circle play in that shared work?

The Women & Climate Daring Circle seeks to identify the levers and initiatives needed to accelerate the transition to a green economy, harness it for women’s empowerment, enable women to lead action against climate change, and address the disproportionate impact that climate change has on women. With BNP Paribas being one of the leaders of the initiative, I had the pleasure of taking an active part in the meeting and working on the Charter for Engagement that we produced and launched at the Kyoto meeting in June 2019.

The Charter calls on governments, businesses and individuals to work together to drive inclusive climate action at scale. The five key goals of the Charter are:

  1. Achieve gender equality in climate decision-making bodies by 2030;
  2. Raise awareness among all generations of the interactions between gender and climate and provide girls with access to education and green jobs;
  3. Improve access to essential and productive means to enable women’s full engagement in climate change action;
  4. Integrate gendered data to highlight and inform the development of climate policies and actions; and
  5. Finance and develop gender-responsive and scalable social, economic and technological climate solutions.

As a woman heading the Environmental and Social Responsibility activities of one of the biggest banks in the world, I am in the best position to integrate the gender perspective into our activities and promote the Charter to our clients, suppliers, and partners.

Since the signing of the Charter of Engagement, how has it been communicated and implemented within your organization?

First of all, the Charter has been signed in June 2019 directly by our CEO, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé and we internally communicated about it, in order to raise awareness on the subject. For example, we took advantage of an event organized at our NY head office during the Climate Week in September 2019 to distribute copies of the Charter to the participants.

Another example:  the BNP Paribas Foundation is providing funds to researchers in climate and biodiversity. During the last call for projects late 2019, a criteria has been added to ensure the parity of awarded researchers to be in line with the Charter.

Externally, we communicated on the signature of the Charter and on the issue of Women and Climate in our 2019 Integrated Report and in our first TCFD (Task force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) report, next to the different concrete initiatives supported by BNP Paribas. This contributes to the pedagogy that we think is necessary to explain the link between women and climate.

Given the experience of your organisation, what are your recommendations for an optimal deployment of this Charter by other organizations/companies?

The impact of women on climate – and vice-versa – is not widely understood, so it is important to use any relevant opportunity we have to speak about the Charter, the rationale behind and the possible implementations. This will help everybody to develop the gender reflex when thinking about climate issues. For example, when we meet a green start-up, a 100% male management team should be brought into question.