International Women’s Day: 10 inspirational female voices in the climate race | Planet Mark

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, our team have chosen ten of the most inspiring and influential female voices in the sustainability arena. From the UN’s first Chief Heat Officer to the architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, these women are forging the path towards net zero. Click here to keep reading.

International Women’s Day: 10 inspirational female voices in the climate race | Planet Mark
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This International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting women making a difference in climate action, following this year’s theme “Inspire Inclusion.” International Women’s Day (IWD) is about uplifting women globally, aiming for a more inclusive world. This pursuit isn’t just valuable for women: valuing inclusion from all aspects of society gives us the right tools to act on the climate crisis. In the fight against climate change, the more voices we listen to, the better.

Before celebrating IWD on the 8th of March, we asked our team for the female voices that are inspiring them in the race towards a more sustainable, net-zero future. . These women exemplify passion, commitment, and expertise, standing at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Let’s get to it.

Marina Silva – Brazil’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

The Amazon Rainforest is often referred to as the ‘lungs of the earth’, and for good reason: it absorbs a quarter of the CO2 absorbed by all the land on the planet. With deforestation rising over recent years the situation has become increasingly worrying.

Suffice it to say Marina Silva (Brazil’s newly appointed Minister of Environment) has a massive job on her hands. Silva was once a forest-dwelling rubber tapper and grew up in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon. Her lived experiences have informed every aspect of her transformative Amazon policies.

The changes since her appointment in 2023 have been remarkable. While there’s still plenty of work to do, Silva has created a 2-million-hectare reserve, which is exclusively managed by traditional communities. This deep appreciation for indigenous knowledge and understanding aligns perfectly with IWD’s 2024 inclusion theme and makes Silva living proof of the power of diverse voices in government.

Eleni Myrivili – the UN’s first Chief Heat Officer

Grappling with intense urban heat is one of the most significant consequences of climate change. Over the last few years, it’s already become a reality, with over 61,000 people dying in 2023’s European heatwave and temperatures easily reaching over 40 degrees.

The United Nations’ Global Chief Heat Officer, Eleni Myrivili, is on a mission to save lives and raise awareness of climate change’s silent killer. She outlines three ways to tackle urban heat issues, which are educating city dwellers, shielding vulnerable groups and fundamentally restructuring our cities to make them cooler.

Myrivili also has significant local government experience, which is vital for implementing any successful sustainable urban policy. With skills in climate adaptation and urban resilience, her understanding of urban heat and its consequences will be vital for cities in the future.

Rosemary Enobakhare – Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Policy and Strategic Engagement at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Rosemary Enobakhare is a woman with first-hand experiences of the difficulties caused by the climate crisis. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Enobakhare was a victim of a devastating flood that left tens of thousands of residents without drinking water.

Now the EPA’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Policy and Strategic Engagement, her role connects the government with citizens being impacted by low air and water quality. By drawing a link between people in power and those from affected communities, Rosemary Enobakhare epitomises the vital importance of environmental justice in the daily fight against climate change.

Nicola Kagoro – Zimbabwean Chef

The research is comprehensive: plant-based diets reduce environmental damage considerably. Nicola Kagoro is one of the chefs leading the vegan revolution in Zimbabwe and across the continent, specialising in affordable yet delicious plant-based dishes. Her business, African Vegan On A Budget, brings real vegan food to those who may have turned their nose up at it in the past. Her drive for the undeniable benefits of plant-based eating is helping to change perceptions of climate-friendly food in a continent consumed by meat and dairy.

In Kagoro’s own words, ‘there are more African vegans coming out of the closet now – they just didn’t speak about it before’.

Wangari Muchiri – Director of Africa WindPower and the Global Wind Energy Council

Nigeria’s population, already at 219 million in 2022, is set to skyrocket to 377 million by 2050. That’s a staggering increase of 77%. These numbers are part of a broader trend across the African continent, signalling the necessity for a strategic sea change in how African countries react to the climate crisis.

One of those problem solvers is Wangari Muchiri, Director of Africa WindPower at the Global Wind Energy Council. Her mission is to make renewable energy, such as wind farms, more accessible to various African countries, substantially reducing carbon emissions as a result. Thanks to her work, African nations are making clear progress on the transition to renewables, with a clear pathway laid out for future development.

Sarah Goodenough – Head of Policy at Climate Policy Radar

Climate Policy Radar is a non-profit using data science and artificial intelligence to categorise and analyse climate change laws and policies worldwide. Head of Policy is Sarah Goodenough, an experienced leader in her field, engaging stakeholders and informing policy to pursue a radical climate agenda. With over five years’ experience in non-government climate strategy around the world, Goodenough uses the latest artificial intelligence technology to gather extensive data to create a clearer idea of which policies work and which don’t.

Goodenough is a strong proponent of holding governments to account with radical openness about their policies. With the advanced technologies at her disposal, she can analyse  past commitments, identify areas for enhancement and spot organisations or countries that are missing the mark. In a world drowning in greenwashing, voices like hers are a necessity.

Christiana Figueres – Architect of the Paris Climate Agreement

When appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, Cristiana Figueres had a monumental job on her hands. COP15 in Copenhagen had recently failed to materialise, and real progress on the climate crisis was stalling. With responsibility for international climate change negotiations, Figueres played a pivotal role in the historic 2015 Paris Agreement by bringing together national and sub-national governments (as well as activists, corporations and NGOs) during the negotiation process. Her passionate determination to resolve disagreements between countries and organisations was pivotal in the birth of the first universally agreed regulatory climate framework – a remarkable and groundbreaking achievement.

No longer at the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres continues to speak out about the climate crisis in other ways, such as books and public speaking. We strongly suggest listening to her podcast Outrage and Optimism for more endlessly fascinating insights into the daily climate change struggle.

Emily Faint – Net Zero Policy Manager (BSI)

As Net Zero Policy Manager at the British Standards Institution (BSI), Emily Faint has been an outspoken force for radical change within the global movement towards net zero. Her main goal is to accelerate net zero governance and policies of countries across the world, including the transition from voluntary to compulsory regulation. The success of this transition is pivotal for net zero success, forcing conglomerates to take serious action on their emissions and helping to stop greenwashing.

Faint was also a lead facilitator of the ISO Net Zero Guidelines International Workshop Agreement and contributed towards the UNFCCC Climate Champions Pivot Point report. With further experience in the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as a Senior Policy Advisor, women like Faint are indispensable in turning the tide towards authentic climate action.

Leah Thomas – Intersectional Environmental Activist and Eco-Communicator

The struggle for climate justice and social justice are inextricably linked. Leah Thomas, an intersectional environmental activist and eco-communicator based in Southern California, understands the vital importance of inclusive climate action. Her inexhaustible drive comes from a concern for the social barriers that are holding certain voices back and the ways that we can welcome them into the conversation for everybody’s benefit.

Thomas holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy, which has given her the foundation to launch the ‘Intersectional Environmentalist’ (a non-profit resource hub providing educational resources) and write an acclaimed book titled ‘The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet’. As you can see, it’s no surprise that Thomas has been named in Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30 2024’ list. In Thomas’ own words, ‘we can’t save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people, especially those most often unheard.’

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson – Marine Biologist, Policy Expert and Writer

Finally, and certainly not least, is Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and policy expert from Brooklyn. As co-founder of both the non-profit think tank Urban Ocean Lab and the climate initiative The All We Can Save Project, Elizabeth Johnson has seen the disastrous impacts that climate change has had on our oceans with her own eyes.

Her projects aim to raise awareness of the life-threatening consequences of marine degradation and how we can constructively work towards more vibrant oceans. She’s also the co-creator of the brilliant podcast How to Save a Planet, which is concerned with the personal and border actions we can take to fight climate change.

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