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Optimism after COP26? The world needs increased action to achieve climate justice

Climate Change ImageThe title of our speaker evening on 24 Jan was “What’s next after COP26? How do we achieve climate justice particularly for women in Africa?”

We heard from two eminent speakers from the UK academic and the African international development communities:

  • Mike Wilkins Executive Director/Professor of Practice in the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment, Imperial College Business School: Progress at COP26 in Glasgow and the Key Challenges which Remain
  • Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, Director, Programme Innovation and Planning, NEPAD, the new partnership for Africa’s Development: The impact of climate change on women in Africa and the financial aid needed to achieve climate justice.

Please scroll down for their more detailed biographies. Mike and Estherine gave us optimism in what COP26 achieved. They identified the challenges ahead and what action is needed by the world to achieve climate justice.

Click here to read this excellent meeting report by Planet Team Member Nicky Bloom:  SISTA COP26 24 01 22 Meeting Report

Mike Wilkins talked us through the presentation below – “COP26 Deck” and the report “Mind the Gap” – please click on the links to download.


Mind The Gap – Pledges At COP26 Give Hope But Significant Shortfall Still Exists, Nov 18 2021

Mike said that a slogan from COP26 was “Keeping 1.5 Alive” showing that everyone appeared to understand how vital it is to limit global  temperatures.  The optimism came from some important agreements for example in phasing down coal where there have been massive reductions in the last 6 years. There was more commitment at COP26 from companies and cities – not just nation states as before. Funds for adaptation for the least developed countries are disappointingly low.  Mike summarised by saying that the UN Summit had been successful in bringing everyone (30,000 attendees!) together but that the proof will be at the next COP (27) in Egypt when progress will be scrutinised.

If you would like to know about Mike’s work at Imperial College’s CCFI, please go to this site:

After the meeting Mike replied to an email thanking him for his time saying “It was indeed a pleasure to address your members and I was very impressed by the level of engagement in the topic. The technicalities and jargon associated with climate change negotiations and COP26 are not often well understood, but I felt last night’s audience were totally up to speed. I appreciate the invite.”

Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong delivered an excellent presentation that complemented and brought to life what Mike had talked about, with emphasis on the horrific human impact of climate change in Africa – and particularly the impact on the lives of women and girls.


Estherine painted a harsh picture for us. Never mind a 1.5 degree increase in temperature Africa’s people are already suffering from the catastrophic effects of climate change now – with migration and coastal flooding. Women are a particularly negatively impacted. With climate induced hardship girls drop out of school to help their families and are married early to reduce the financial burden on their families. There is an increase in sexual violence post harvest losses and poverty levels are exacerbated. She emphasised that education is key – developing skills and knowledge to lead and organise their way through this catastrophe.

Club President Barbara Saunders thanked Estherine, for her time and noted the alignment of her experience with the values of Soroptimists, highlighting how critical her work is to transform communities and inherently that of women and girls. After the meeting Estherine sent this message: “With all the respect l have for Soroptimist International, it was with great pleasure that l did the talk. We are all working for the same course to give opportunities to women and girls so they can meet their full potential. I am therefore very glad if my talk this evening helped shed more light to the support that Africa women need to adapt to climate change and participate in decision making. It was a wonderful, welcoming and engaging audience and l am grateful to you for your enthusiastic support. Your email nicely sums up what we do and why we do it.”

We were delighted to welcome guests from around the UK and the world to join our Members for this the third meeting on climate change and the climate emergency organised by the Club’s Planet Team. Guests heralded from around our Soroptimist London Chilterns Region plus Leeds, Stafford and California and many St Albans groups were represented including Friends of the Earth, Amnesty, Oxfam and Hertfordshire Asian Women’s Association. Close to 50 people were on Zoom on the night which was wonderful. Our audience impressed our speakers with the quality of their questions and the Q&A’s could have gone on for much longer than the allotted time – as usual in a Soroptimist meeting! The feedback from attendees written in the Zoom chat was really positive.

Donations from the event will be split between Mrs Lisinge-Fotabong’s nominated charity – the Duke’s Foundation, in her home town of Buea, in Cameroon and the Club’s tree planting project in Hertfordshire. The Foundation has a special interest in the education of the African girl child, and works in collaboration with schools to provide education grants. It places special emphasis on helping girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Money also helps to provide better hygiene conditions for young girls and bursary assistance to support them stay in school, which is at the heart of Soroptimists action worldwide. Soroptimist Clubs around the world have been marking the centenary of the organisation with tree planting initiatives – click here to read more


Mike Wilkins, Executive Director/Professor of Practice in the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment, Imperial College Business School Mike has extensive experience of COP and the financial issues involved in climate change. Previously Mike was the Global Head of Sustainable Finance Analytics & Research for  S&P Global Ratings, one of the 4 international ratings companies, where he had global responsibility for thought leadership, strategy and execution in Sustainable Finance. He has also been a member of the FSB Taskforce on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the G20 Green Finance Study Group (GFSG), the advisory council of the Smith School Sustainable Finance Programme and the Climate Bonds Initiative.

Mrs Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, Director of Programme Implementation and Coordination at the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency  NEPAD is the New Partnership for Africa’s Development – click here for more – and please click here to download her impressive biography Mrs Estherine Lisinge Fotabong_bio_2021 Dec