AVELY PÜTSEP / March 7, 2021
8 Powerful Women Environmentalists Giving Hope Against Climate Change
The world is full of badass women environmentalists. They lead the fight against climate change and by supporting them, we can inspire future climate action leaders. ✊🏼
The United Nations estimates that 80% of those displaced by climate change are women. 🤯 Across much of the world, the role of women is as primary caregivers of families and communities. Because they provide food and fuel, they’re more vulnerable to flooding and drought.
Compared to women, men are less vulnerable to these ecological issues.
Furthermore, gender equality and climate action are two of the UN’s 17 Global Goals for sustainable development. The global need to further empower women in climate decision-making was even added to the Paris agreement agenda. Gender and climate change are inextricable.
Plus, it’s the 21st century. Should it even be a discussion whether women can be decision-makers?
To celebrate this good climate change news, here are just eight kickass women fighting climate change in their sectors of policy, activism, advocacy, and more.
Christiana Figueres: The Stubborn Optimist
Christiana was key in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 as chief of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She considers climate optimism as a necessary choice for a better future.
“Do you know of any challenge that mankind has had in the history of humankind that was actually successful in its achievement that started out with pessimism, that started out with defeatism? There isn’t. So optimism is a choice. And in as much as we create that vision and that future, then we begin to unleash an enormous amount of human potential and human dedication and determination to make that future a reality. That is why I am optimistic.” she said in 2018.
What's she up to right now? Not much (hah!). She released a book The Future We Choose, hosts the podcast Outrage and Optimism, and helped arrange a partnership called ‘Countdown’ between TED and Future Stewards to mobilize action towards the climate crisis.
Anne Hidalgo: The Unstoppable Force
The mayor of Paris, France, is truly an unstoppable force. She’s been aggressively transforming Paris into a city that produces less greenhouse gas emissions.
Anne’s achievements as a woman in climate change include:
Banning diesel vehicles during weekdays
Increasing bicycle commuting through changes in transport infrastructure
Creating more public parks
She’s had some political backlash and made quite a few enemies, but this hasn’t stopped her from making Paris a greener place. 💪🏼
She said, “What we’ve undertaken is a whole program of adaptation, of putting nature back in this city. We’re trying to build this around the individual. We can’t live as before.” Wise words!
Merit Valdsalu: The Force Uniting Humankind for Change
This list wouldn’t be complete without Single.Earth co-founder, Merit. 💚 Her goal is nothing less than saving the world. Period.
She plans to do it by making sustainable forest and land management a new norm. She’s a badass woman fighting habitat loss and deforestation in favor of biodiversity and carbon offset.
“Single.Earth combines my two passions - fixing the environmental crisis with scalable game-changing technologies. If tokenizing the entire world’s nature for its ecological value is what it takes to save the natural world from being destroyed, we’re going to do it.” she said about launching Single.Earth.
She’s a constant inspiration who speaks out about diversity and the situation that female founders experience in the hectic cleantech startup world.
She’s been featured in Forbes, Reuters, and TechFirst. Single.Earth has been chosen as one of the shortlisted Innovators by the World Economic Forum in the Trillion Trees challenge and as one of the Tech with Heart projects by Atlas of the Future.
Greta Thunberg: The Small And Already Fierce
Of course, the legendary Greta! There are millions of young female activists who look up to Greta, who, true to her sassy self, wrote a sarcastic tweet on her 18th birthday.
We don’t want to put pressure on young people, but she’s done so much already and, let’s face it, the world is excited to see what else she’ll do.
Sunita Narain: The Voice of Developing Nations
Sunita is head of the Centre for Society and Environment, a research and advocacy organization devoted to promoting sustainable development.
From her home in India, here is what Sunita is doing for the planet:
⬇️ Finding methods of reducing pollution 🌍 Mitigating climate change 🚰 Improving water safety
She’s a badass advocate for those often left without a voice but hit hardest by climate change. Despite producing far less greenhouse gas emissions than wealthy nations, developing countries often face the harshest consequences. Sunita’s an inspiration, helping those who need it most. 😌
“The poor in the world have not contributed to the making of the [climate change] problem. But let’s be clear, their pain will make our world more insecure. And this is only going to get worse. This is why we need to act and act now." she wrote in DownToEarth.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: The Champion of Indigenous People
She’s a force to be reckoned with! An advocate for indigenous peoples and the challenges they face due to climate change.
She’s worked with UNESCO, penned editorials, served as co-chair of the International Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change, and is the Gender and Climate Representative for Congo Basin for the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee.
Honestly, what hasn’t she done? Remarkable!
“For all Indigenous Peoples, from any corner of the world, livelihoods are linked to natural resources, for our food and medicine, for everything, so if there are floods or droughts, the impact is greater for us. Climate change threatens our basic rights, our cultural values, and the very survival of these communities," she said when the Paris Agreement was signed.
Jacinda Ardern: Fighting for Carbon Neutrality
Jacinda became the world’s youngest female head of government in 2017. Impressive!
She leads the government in New Zealand and has said the country’s public sector will need to be carbon neutral in five years in a "commitment to leadership on climate change".
A leading voice for issues related to women and climate change, Jacinda is set to initiate a massive carbon footprint reduction, moving towards a low carbon economy.
In December 2020, New Zealand declared a climate emergency. Government agencies would need to measure, report, and offset carbon emissions. Jacinda commented, "The public sector needs to be and will be an exemplar that sets the standard we all need to achieve by 2050." Women’s voices for the Earth now reach the top of politics.
What better way to lead the carbon offset revolution than by example?
Kirsten Dunlop: The Trade Revolutionary
Her name is one to remember.
Kirsten, female environmentalist and CEO of EIT Climate-KIC, addressed the Worshipful Company of World Traders on 25 February 2021 to talk about the future of trade on a warming planet. In her thought-provoking speech, she asked, “How could world trade be part of the solution and not the problem – indeed take a leadership position in the field of climate action?”.
She argues that it’s crucial to deeply transform the trade industry. “Climate change will disrupt economic patterns as we know them today. In a 2 degrees of global warming future, the business models that rely on today’s conditions and assumptions won’t be sustainable,” she commented.
She urged an audience of trade experts to think about our future. As we all should.
Women in the world are a powerful force in the fight against the climate emergency.
This list will grow and turn into an overview of women leading the way in climate change. Together we move towards a greener, healthier, and more sustainable planet. 💪🏼