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5 Women Leading in Sustainability


Vandana Shiva


“We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.”

Besides being a physicist, ecologist, activist, editor, and author of numerous books, Vandana Shiva is a tireless defender of the environment. She is the founder of Navdanya, a movement for biodiversity conservation and farmers’ rights. She is also the founder and director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy. Shiva fights for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food: “I don't want to live in a world where five giant companies control our health and our food."

Christiana Figueres


“We cannot ask others to do what we have not done ourselves.”

Costa Rican powerhouse, Christiana Figueres is an experienced diplomat who has led national, international and multilateral policy negotiations. She served as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010-2016 under which she oversaw the 2015 Paris Agreement. She is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism” and is the co-author of the recently published book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis". She is a member of the B Team, non executive Board member of ACCIONA and non executive Board member of Impossible Foods.

Neri Oxman


"Material Ecology is a design philosophy, research area, and scientific approach that explores informs, and expresses interrelationships between the built, the grown, and the augmented."

Operating at the intersection of technology and biology, architect and designer Neri Oxman is calling for a fundamental shift in the way we design and construct the built environment, from consuming Nature to augmenting her. With Material Ecology, Oxman has pioneered a field that promotes previously impossible opportunities for design; informing how buildings and products are made and how their shape and material composition may perform in harmony with the ecosystems they inhabit.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright


“I think of climate the way I think of protest, and there are a few ways to change things. One way is through direct, obvious full-frontal attack, like a hurricane, or a wildfire, where response is reactive to bigger issues. But another way to look at it is changing the conditions that enable that ‘problem’ to exist. Change the conditions, and you play a role in changing the future of your environment.”

While working in Detroit’s department of health in the mid-2010s, Gunn-Wright realized how the environment shapes a wide range of social–justice issues. The government urgently needed to address climate change, she thought, but “you weren’t going to solve the problem with just solar panels,” she says. “People were being poisoned.” Now, Gunn-Wright is bringing that holistic approach to the national level, working behind the scenes at New Consensus, a think tank with ties to progressive lawmakers. As the group’s Green New Deal policy lead, she is charged with thinking through the nuts and bolts of the program and strategies to pitch the bold climate plan.

Greta Thunberg


"All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

Thunberg's activism started after convincing her parents to adopt several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint. In August 2018, at age 15, she started spending her school days outside the Swedish Parliament to call for stronger action on climate change. She is famous for her straightforward speaking manner, both in public and to political leaders. Thunberg is a visionary who's message has catalysed the environmental movement.


Who are your inspirational women in sustainability? Let us know in the comments below.

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