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My interview with Isabela Tatu: “I discovered I had a passion for shipping as a 13 year old, and I could pursue a career in the sector”.

Nov 1, 2022
Isabela Tatu has been working in the energy sector, including shipping and commodity industry over the last 22 years. The responsibilities range from physical to trading to derivatives. “I have had the honour to be in various leadership and managerial positions. One of my greatest achievements has been to lead a team comprising equally in terms of gender and diversity”.
 
During the last five years, she has been working with various shipowners on the decarbonisation and digitisation of the shipping industry through various projects including blockchain, DNA and renewable energy.
 
As part of the renewable energy project, she has been working on the Hydrogen Fuel Cell, with her mentor.  They desire to bring this technology into the market – not just for the shipping industry – but also for communities and society, as well.
Isabela wishes to transform the ‘Ladyship Roundtable’ – founded by her – into an educational platform on environment, climate, shipping and renewable energy.

Praveen Gupta: What is it that you expected from COP26 that did not happen and you would like to see come through at the COP27?

Isabela Tatu: There wasn’t enough representation of youth. Although the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) did include a section on youth engagement, the “Forever Youth4Climate” summit will now be an annual event before COP. Young people should participate in national delegations, not just as onlookers. Youth involvement at climate summits turns into a show of support. They must exert pressure on those who make decisions!

Accessibility and inclusivity: In a modest sign of development, 49% of registered government delegates were women (UNFCCC). However, men made up 60% of the plenary speakers at COP26 and talked for 74% of the time.

PG: Given the serious implications of climate change for women – shouldn’t there be a larger role for them in the leadership at the COPs?

IT: The effects of climate change frequently affect women more than men. This is due to the fact that they make up the majority of the economically poor people in the world, perform the majority of the agricultural work, have an uneven share of the burden of providing for household food security, bear a disproportionate share of the burden of harvesting water and fuel for daily survival, and depend on threatened natural resources for their livelihoods. (UN Women Watch, 2009).

Mayesha Alam, a specialist in environmental issues and women’s rights, told Global Citizen:

  • Women represent around 43% of the global agricultural workforce, but they face countless barriers to economic independence.
  • Displacement also threatens women’s health in a number of gender-specific ways. 

When pregnant women are displaced, they’re less likely to receive adequate pre and post-natal care, which can negatively impact their health, as well as the health of their babies.

The leaders of Estonia, Tanzania and Bangladesh were the first to sign the Glasgow Women’s Leadership declaration at the COP26 climate summit, which urged nations to encourage women and girls’ leadership on climate change at all societal and political levels. Out of 140 chiefs of delegation, these three women represented over a third of all female leaders at the conference. “Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas flagged at an event that only 10 out of 140 heads of delegation attending the summit in Glasgow are women” (UNDP).

PG: What made you break into a male dominated industry. Wouldn’t an equitable role bring about a qualitative difference?

IT: I discovered I had a passion for shipping as a 13 year old, and I could pursue a career in the sector. I didn’t become conscious of the gender divide until I started working abroad (I am originally Romanian).

Although I have witnessed numerous improvements over the past 20 years, social views continue to suggest that certain professions call for skills that are more often associated with men; for example, even today, women represent only 1.2% percent of the global seafarer workforce (BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report).

Although I have witnessed numerous improvements over the past 20 years, social views continue to suggest that certain professions call for skills that are more often associated with men; for example, even today, women represent only 1.2% percent of the global seafarer workforce.

Women’s engagement in just one or two fields, such as environmental work or entrepreneurship like ship ownership, cannot be the focus of debates if the maritime industry is to be completely inclusive. It is necessary to work at different levels and in different facets of the industry to develop a community of experiences for women in maritime jobs.

Instead of being restricted to entry-level or low-paying employment, women who embark on maritime careers must acquire multi-level and multi-sector experience, such as in executive or engineering positions.

Women are essential to the advancement of humanity and hold important positions in society. As we bring diverse perspectives to the table, it is crucial to have gender equality and diversity at all levels of organisations, communities, and society, as a whole.

PG: Shipping causes serious damage to the biodiversity, largely on account of pollution. How do you suggest this be addressed with due urgency?

IT: Shipping is outside the purview of the Paris Agreement. Even while ships transport 90% of global trade, they are responsible for up to 3% of global CO2 emissions (npr.org), which is higher than the emissions of the UK and France put together.

Fortunately, the idea to create net zero shipping channels spanning 19 countries, including the UK and US, was unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow on November 10.

To achieve the best results, the following should be handled from an actionable perspective:

  • Through a network of terminals and ports, green fuels like green hydrogen and green ammonia, hydrogen fuel cells which are underproduced, might be used.
  • Measures to increase the relative cost of marine fuel oil while making alternative fuels more accessible, such as a levy on carbon emissions.
  • Companies that lease space on ships to convey goods will need incentives and subsidies to help them to reduce emissions from their supply chains.

PG: Much of the Climate Crisis is a creation of Global North yet the price is paid by the Global South. How should this be addressed?

IT: The Human Development Report of 2020 claims that human economic activity, which emits significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and so contributes to climate change, is the root cause of global warming.

The effects will get greater when temperatures rise higher in the future. Climate change is predicted to worsen economic inequality and undermine efforts to reduce poverty because those who face the highest risks are frequently the ones least able to withstand the consequences.

The effects will get greater when temperatures rise higher in the future. Climate change is predicted to worsen economic inequality and undermine efforts to reduce poverty because those who face the highest risks are frequently the ones least able to withstand the consequences.

More chances for underdeveloped countries, most of which are in the global south, to speak up about the ideas that would actually work for them.

The transition to a low-carbon economy and preparation for the already unavoidable effects of climate change will be supported by increased inclusion and climate finance.

The best approach in each of these cases is to lower GHG emissions from both the Global North and Global South as a whole.

PG: Do you believe that the voice of women from Global South would make a serious difference to the Climate Action/ outcome?

IT: Half of the food produced on the planet is produced by women. In the majority of Global South nations, that percentage rises to 80%, with women playing a crucial role in the conservation of agricultural biodiversity and seeds. This highlights the significant role that women play in the global south’s economic sector.

Women and girls must be a part of the solution if we are going to pay attention to the Global South. Women’s participation in decision-making processes is essential for effective climate action since they have unique expertise and experience, particularly at the local level.

The results of climate change policy are influenced by the political participation of women in national parliaments, according to a study (Mavisakalyan et Tarverdi, 2019). It has been proven, using data from a sizeable sample of nations, that gender equality encourages nations to enact stricter climate change regulations. The underutilisation of female political representation may contribute to the problem of climate change.

PG: Many thanks Isabela for sharing your interesting perspective. Wishing you all success in your endeavours which go beyond sustainable shipping.

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