Monday, October 2, 2023

13 Women Leaders In Sustainability Breaking Stereotypes and Changing the Narrative


These women are fighting for a more sustainable and equitable world.

As the world population continues to increase and resources become scarcer, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways to create a more sustainable future. The United Nations has identified sustainability as one of the biggest challenges facing the world today, and it has called on all nations to work together to address this issue.

Women have been at the forefront of the sustainability movement, working in a variety of fields to promote a more equitable and sustainable world. From policy-making to business, science, and the arts, women have been instrumental in driving change and promoting sustainable practices.

Communes Are Back: Why Sustainable, Communal Living Really Is Utopia
Courtesy Omar Lopez | Unsplash

Climate change, in particular, has become one of the biggest threats women are tackling as rising temperatures, changing weather patterns, and rising sea levels threaten to disrupt ecosystems and cause significant economic and social upheaval.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, global wildlife populations have declined by 68 percent since 1970, with climate change, habitat loss, and pollution cited as key drivers. In addition, the World Health Organization estimates that 23 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to environmental factors, including air pollution, contaminated water, and poor sanitation. The United Nations has also warned that up to one million species face extinction in the coming decades, with human activities such as deforestation, overfishing, and pollution driving this loss of biodiversity.

Women fighting for a sustainable future

Women have been at the forefront of efforts to promote sustainability, working in a range of fields to drive change and promote sustainable practices. From the late Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which warned about the dangers of pesticide use and helped to inspire the modern environmental movement to the late Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and political activist who founded the Green Belt Movement, to 18-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has become one of the most visible advocates for climate action today, women are leading the charge for a sustainable future.

1. Mary Robinson

Former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson has been a vocal advocate for climate justice and sustainable development. She currently serves as Chair of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders working for peace, justice, and human rights.

jane goodall trees
Dr. Jane Goodall wants to plant one trillion trees by 2030.

2. Jane Goodall

A renowned primatologist and conservationist, Jane Goodall, now 88, has spent decades studying chimpanzees and working to protect endangered species and habitats around the world. Now she’s also become the face of widespread environmentalism, pledging to plant a trillion trees by 2030.

3. Ellen MacArthur

A former professional sailor, Ellen MacArthur now leads the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which promotes the transition to a circular economy that minimizes waste and maximizes resource efficiency. It has become particularly invested in shifting the fashion industry toward a more responsible version of itself.

4. Christiana Figueres

A former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres played a key role in negotiating the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Elizabeth Yeampierre
Executive Director of UPROSE, Elizabeth Yeampierre | Courtesy

5. Elizabeth Yeampierre

As the Executive Director of UPROSE, a grassroots environmental justice organization in Brooklyn, Elizabeth Yeampierre has worked tirelessly to fight for the rights of communities of color that are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and climate change.

6. Isatou Ceesay

Isatou Ceesay is a Gambian environmental activist who founded the Women’s Initiative Gambia, an organization that promotes waste reduction and recycling in rural communities. Her work has helped to reduce plastic pollution and promote sustainable livelihoods for women.

7. Anjali Appadurai

Anjali Appadurai is a climate justice activist and writer who has spoken at numerous international forums, including the UN Climate Change Conference in 2011. Her work focuses on the intersection of climate change, social justice, and human rights.

8. Lekha Menon Margassery

Founder of The Post Project, a social enterprise that upcycles post-consumer waste into sustainable fashion and home decor products, Lekha Menon Margassery is working to promote circular economy principles and support local artisans and communities.

Majora Carter
Sustainable South Bronx founder Majora Carter | Courtesy

9. Majora Carter

Majora Carter is a social entrepreneur and urban revitalization strategist who works to promote environmental and economic sustainability in low-income communities. She is the founder of Sustainable South Bronx, a non-profit organization that promotes green job training and community development.

10. Amina J. Mohammed

Nigerian diplomat Amina J. Mohammed currently serves as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. She has been a vocal advocate for sustainable development, and she played a key role in developing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

11. Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke is an environmental activist, writer, and Indigenous rights advocate who works to promote sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and Indigenous sovereignty. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which works to reclaim and preserve land for Indigenous communities.

Emily Penn
Marine conservationist Emily Penn | Courtesy

12. Emily Penn

Marine biologist, ocean advocate, and environmentalist Emily Penn works to promote sustainable practices in the marine environment. She is the co-founder of eXXpedition, an all-female sailing crew that conducts scientific research on plastic pollution in the oceans.

13. Dr. Alison Criscitiello

Glaciologist Dr. Alison Criscitiello has summitted Canada’s highest peak twice in her climate change research. She was named the leader of the 2022 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Mount Logan Expedition. Criscitiello is also behind the Girls On Ice organization that supports young women in mountain climbing and exploring nature.

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