Since 2018, tech giant Apple has been working with the Malala Fund to support the fund’s efforts to provide education for girls around the world.
At Web Summit on Friday, Apple’s VP for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson met with activist Malala Yousafzai to announce a new area of research the Malala Fund is conducting with the help of Apple — the intersection of girls’ education and climate change.
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The research, which is set to be published next March, will look at sustainability and environmental protection within the curriculum for the education of girls, and contain recommendations for government-level policies and global-level commitments, said Yousafzai.
Yousafzai painted a vivid picture of how climate change and girls’ education are interrelated. Using the example of her hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, she described how the flooding there destroys homes and schools, and how long droughts mean girls must walk miles to fetch water for their families when they should be at school or doing homework.
“When we educate girls and when we empower them and when we give them the quality education that they need, it actually helps us to tackle climate change because when girls are educated, they have fewer children,” she said. “They’re more economically independent. They can fight against these difficulties that climate change brings. They’re more resilient.”
Jackson, who grew up in New Orleans, spoke about how her early experiences of living close to the Mississippi River and later the impact of Hurricane Katrina shaped her own passion for environmental issues. At Apple, Jackson has helped spearhead some of the company’s major environmental initiatives, including its push towards recycling and refurbishing electronics and their components.
Jackson urged both world leaders and businesses to “bring our clock forward” and state clearly what they plan to do within the next ten years to fight the climate crisis. “Now I think it’s time for a call to real action,” she said. “For me, that means calling on all businesses, including those in our supply chain, to set aggressive targets by 2030. Maybe you can’t get to carbon-neutral by 2030, but you can do more. And we need for businesses to step up and say what they can do by 2030. Let’s do that.”
Not only does Apple have its own target to be carbon-neutral by 2030, but it also wants all of its customers to be able to charge their devices on renewable energy by its 2030 deadline, said Jackson.
“Obviously that’s not something we can do all alone,” she said. “It’s something that we can help with — we’ve sponsored clean-energy projects around the world. But we also want to work with governments to make sure that there’s more and more access to clean energy on grids all around the world, especially in areas that, right now, have been under-invested in in terms of clean energy.”
Jackson called for government to adopt strong policies, rules, laws that support real action on climate change. She added that she looks forward to a reengagement of the work done in this area under the Obama administration as President-elect Joe Biden enters office.
Yousafzai echoed her sentiments adding that she hopes the Malala Fund’s new research will bring the voices of girls to the table at the COP26 climate summit, scheduled to take place next November. “We hope that our leaders show full responsibility and make good decisions about protecting our future,” she said.