About the event

Women4Climate launched the second edition of the Tech Challenge at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, building on a successful first edition in 2018-19. The event hosted a panel of high-profile speakers discussing barriers to women-led innovation in the tech sector and the vital importance of breaking down these barriers! The Tech Challenge is a key tool to achieve inclusive climate action in cities.

Women have a central role to play in driving climate action to transform cities and communities into sustainable places to live. The solutions showcased by the international challenge, now in its second year, improve cities’ responsiveness to climate change. The two winning solutions of the 1st Tech Challenge were selected from over 100 applications and piloted in Tel Aviv-Yafo and ParisEco Wave Power, the wave-energy array founded by Tech Challenge winner Inna Braverman, has since been publicly listed on the Nasdaq First North Stockholm. The second winning project, Urban Canopee by Elodie Grimoin, restores biodiversity to spaces wherever trees cannot grow.

The 2020 Tech Challenge edition launched with participating cities Lisbon, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Tel Aviv-Yafo. Hosted in the Tivoli Congress Centre in Copenhagen, the event’s panel platformed six speakers who are all committed to pioneering women-led solutions to the climate crisis: 

  • Anna König Jerlmyr – Mayor of Stockholm
  • Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr – Mayor of Freetown
  • Inna Braverman – CEO of Eco Wave Power and a winner of the 1st Tech Challenge
  • Eytan Schwartz – CEO of Tel Aviv-Yafo Global and Tourism
  • Ingrid Reumert – VP of Global Communications, Sustainability and Public Affairs at The VELUX Group
  • Tina Mayn – SVP of Products, Innovation and R&D at The VELUX Group 

C40’s own Director of Governance and Partnerships, Andrea Fernández, moderated the discussion, questioning the panel on opportunities for cities, and the private sector, to bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship and technology. 

Eytan Schwartz, CEO of Tel Aviv Global & Tourism, shared Tel Aviv-Yafo’s experiences with the first Tech Challenge. The city partnered with winner Inna Braverman, CEO of Eco Wave Power, to pilot a wave energy array in Jaffa Port. This is one of the world’s first commercial-scale wave energy arrays that delivers power to the grid. This year Tel Aviv-Yafo will be requesting solutions to the Tech Challenge thematic focuses, ‘Green & Healthier Streets’ and ‘Adaptation & Risk Cities Response’.  Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr announced Stockholm’s participation in the Tech Challenge along the thematic focus ‘Green & Healthier Streets’. A dedicated Women4Climate pioneer, she emphasized the need for more women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM subjects). Insightful discussion with the audience also highlighted the need for representation from all fields, including the arts, in the technology sector as it permeates even further through society. 

Ingrid Reumert presented new research from The VELUX Group on the health problems rampant in existing European buildings. The findings, presented as the VELUX Healthy Homes Barometer, focused on the impact of unhealthy indoor spaces on children. Here, women have a central role to play as they are particularly in tune with children’s vulnerability to unhealthy indoor environments. Creating smart solutions to these problems requires women at the table, to develop solutions that benefit all members of society. Some of the concerning results presented:

  • Today, 1 in 3 European children live in unhealthy homes, equivalent to over 26 million children. 
  • You are 40% more likely to develop asthma if you live in a damp home
  • Improved air quality could boost student academic performance by up to 15%
  • Working to improve indoor environments could boost the European economy by more than €300bn towards 2060. 

VELUX, sponsors of the 2nd Tech Challenge, hope that the winners of the Women4Climate Tech Challenge will start to look at solutions to these problems, along the ‘Healthy Public Buildings’ thematic focus. 

Freetown is the newest city to join C40, and it was a privilege to host their Mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, at the Tech Challenge Launch. Freetown recently launched a Women4Climate Mentorship Programme, and will announce the chosen mentees soon. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr responded to a fantastic question from the audience on short-term support for women developing climate solutions, and in the workplace generally, by highlighting Freetown’s commitment to providing crèches in market areas where many women work informally. 

Less testosterone at the table is often a helpful thing!

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown

By Lydia Marsden

More From Women4Climate