The SustainabilityX® Magazine's second annual Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ 2023 program is brought to you by Belnor Engineering Inc, a global construction firm focusing on sustainable, architectural products, services, and solutions for the green building industry, specializing in IAQ, HVAC, critical airflow management, healthcare design, and smart city and renewable energy building technologies.
The SustainabilityX® Magazine's second annual Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ 2023 program is proudly supported by various gift sponsors spanning multiple sectors. The awards are graciously bolstered by our dedicated gift sponsors, whose support amplifies the celebration and recognition of outstanding achievements. Their generosity not only elevates women in sustainability but underscores a shared commitment to championing excellence.
REDEFINING POWER BY CELEBRATING TRAILBLAZING FEMALE LEADERS AROUND THE WORLD
Following its impactful debut, The SustainabilityX® Magazine is excited to introduce its second edition of the Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ for 2023. This annual showcase celebrates female sustainability trailblazers—dynamic women in sustainability who are not just contributing but actively setting new paths, driving transformative change, and shaping a brighter, greener future.
The SustainabilityX® Magazine continues its tradition of honoring the prodigious contributions of remarkable women leaders who are not just closing the gender disparity but also creating waves in the sustainability arena.
Rooted in the magazine's values of environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, social inclusion, and just governance, the Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ shines a spotlight on women making waves in sustainability and sustainable development around the world. This initiative highlights individuals from various industries, driving transformative changes and sparking pivotal conversations on sustainability.
Supriya Verma, the founder of The SustainabilityX® Magazine, and one of Canada's Top 30 Under 30 In Sustainability Leadership, remarks, "As we stand on the precipice of global change, the role of women in sculpting a sustainable future has never been more pivotal. Their resilience, vision, and leadership will be the beacon guiding us through these trying times."
This endeavor arrives at a crucial juncture. With the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering and the global gender gap broadening, supporting these change-makers has gained utmost importance. Their role is vital in achieving the United Nations' Global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Embracing the new-normal, the awards, for yet another year, will be unveiled digitally on SustainabilityX.Co, harnessing the power of technology to bridge distances, transcend borders, and unify voices. This initiative not only recognizes individuals for their stature but celebrates the essence of their work. It's their unyielding commitment to sustainability, irrespective of the roles they play in the larger societal matrix, that gets celebrated.
Capturing the mood of the hour, Verma adds, "In a world that constantly teeters on the edge, it's imperative to transition from an exclusive economy to an inclusive, regenerative one. That's the ethos that The SustainabilityX® Magazine was founded upon. As we gear up for another year, we stand more resolute in our mission – spotlighting those who dare to imagine a brighter, more inclusive future."
Please put your hands together for The SustainabilityX® Magazine's Second Annual Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ Program 2023 Awardees:
"Women are more intuitive to sustainability needs, because as mothers they have a closer relation to what is pure and what is contaminated. Women will be much stronger about not allowing greenwash practices in the economy."
- Viktoria Kanar, CEO & Co-Founder, Re-Fresh Global, Israel
Viktoria holds over two decades of experience in technological innovation and fashion entrepreneurship from event production, business development, marketing, and communications.
Prior to founding Re-Fresh Global she started GeekChicTLV, an agency specializing in innovative fashion and tech productions. Her interdisciplinary experience at the intersection of these fields situates her perfectly to be the CEO of Re-Fresh Global, which uses burgeoning biotechnology to recycle textile waste into new materials. Read more.
"Women have been at the forefront in bringing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues into the business and investor community. I am so inspired by the platform that ESG has provided for women to demonstrate leadership by connecting global environmental and social challenges to long-term business performance."
- Sarah Keyes, CEO, ESG Global Advisors, Canada
Sarah is an ESG and climate change expert with over a decade of work experience as a thought leader, consultant, facilitator, and auditor.
She is the National Academic Director for the ICD’s Board Oversight of Climate Change program and serves on the Boards of Directors of Leading Change Canada and Sustainable Buildings Canada. In 2018, she received the Emerging Leader Award from CPA Ontario and in 2023 received a Top 50 Changemaker Award from the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. Read more.
"As leaders we have the privilege to inspire great minds and creative thinkers to collectively deliver solutions that will nurture our world in all of its diversity and for all people."
- Dr Torill Bigg, Chief Carbon Reduction Scientist, Tunley Environmental, United Kingdom
Dr Torill Bigg was first inspired into a career in Environmental Protection and Sustainability 30 years ago. Over that time Dr Bigg has built experience in engineering design, innovation, operational and asset management, and an academic background in biochemistry, chemical engineering, and business management.
Today Torill applies her creative problem solving and leadership skills to her role as the Chief Carbon Reduction Engineer of Tunley Engineering. Here she delights in leading and mentoring the Science Team and takes pride in their outstanding achievements and the quality of their work. Read more.
"Women bring a unique blend of skills, imaginative perspectives, and diverse cultural backgrounds, to effective sustainable solutions. Women not only experience the impact of these issues more directly, but they also possess the vision and leadership required to overcome them."
- Marina Tran-Vu, Founder & CEO, EQUO, Vietnam
Marina Tran-Vu is the Founder and CEO of EQUO, a sustainable brand providing 100% plastic-free and compostable straws, utensils, cups, food container and more, made out of materials like grass, rice, coconut, sugarcane and coffee.
She has appeared in global media being featured in Forbes US, Bloomberg TV, Shark Tank Vietnam, and a US show produced by NBA player Chris Paul. Most recently her and EQUO were named a winner of the VISA She’s Next Grant Programme and a Top 9 Global Startup by the United Nations Special Projects Program. Read more.
"Great leaders recognize that sustainable governance is vital for addressing environmental stewardship, social justice, and economic growth. It's a system where the highest authorities ensure resilient decision-making for the organization and stakeholders, emphasizing communication, accountability, and inclusive direction."
- Ivy Lumia, CEO & Founder, Best in Governance Inc., Canada
Ivy Lumia has been a global innovator of modern corporate governance for over 20 years. She is the CEO and Founder of Best in Governance Inc. (BIG), a firm that originated the concept of "sustainable governance" and provides modern solutions for Boards of Directors and Executive Leadership.
Ivy is currently the Ontario Chapter Chair for the Governance Professionals of Canada and a member of several ISO committees. In 2023, Ivy Lumia was recipient of the Diligent MG100 awarded to the 100 most innovative modern governance professionals in the world. Read more.
"Redefining our world, challenging the status quo, changing perceptions and practices and setting an example. Women leaders in sustainability bring a diverse way of thinking and doing things, inspire change and show the possibility of a sustainable and inclusive future, where progress and sustainability can go hand in hand."
- Kalliopi Chioti, Chief Marketing & ESG Officer, Temenos AG, Greece
Kalliopi Chioti is the Chief Marketing & ESG Officer at Temenos since 2016. Under her leadership, Temenos has achieved a plethora of ESG accolades from AAA MSCI ESG ratings to topping the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices.
Kalliopi regularly participates as a speaker in various global events, from COP27 to Sibos. For over 25 years, she has worked for multinational companies in Europe and the US, including INTRASOFT International, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, The World Bank, Harvard University, and the JFK Library and Foundation. Read more.
"Globally, women are disproportionately impacted by the environmental and social challenges associated with climate change and as such are inherently on the frontlines of the fight for sustainable development. Amplifying female voices results in a ripple effect that supports and hastens the pace of sustainable change."
- Dr Ebun Akinsete, Senior Researcher, ATHENA Research & Innovation Center, Greece
Ebun is a senior researcher at the Sustainable development Unit, ATHENA RC and the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Network based in Athens, Greece, under the AE4RIA Network, and founding partner of the Nigerian-based consultancy, GEN Sustainable Solutions. Ebun is also the co-head of the Transformative and Participatory Approaches Unit of the UN Global Climate Hub. Her work aims to put people at the center of the sustainability transition. She is also the vice-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. Read more.
"Women are not only the most affected by climate change but also the best equipped to work in sustainability. Their empathy, ability to bring people together around a common cause, and care for future generations make them fantastic ambassadors."
- Daniela Schaff, Head of Sustainability, Wisk, United States
Daniela Schaff is a sustainability strategist with 25+ years of experience in various industries. As the Head of Sustainability at eVTOL developer Wisk, she is determined to establish a new standard for environmentally responsible aviation by measuring and mitigating GHG emissions, influencing sustainable product and workplace design, and implementing circular solutions for waste.
Earlier in her career, she spent more than 10 years with Lufthansa Technik in various different roles. Recently, she was elected as Chair of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) sustainability subcommittee and serves as an advisory board member at the JetPerfect Foundation.
Genevieve Sherman, Head of Sustainability, Nuveen Green Capital, United States
Genevieve Sherman is the Head of Sustainability & Policy at Nuveen Green Capital (NGC), a national leader in sustainable commercial real estate financing solutions and an affiliate of Nuveen, the $1T+ asset manager and wholly owned subsidiary of TIAA.
Genevieve is one of the architects of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (“C-PACE”), an innovative public-private financing mechanism that funds sustainability measures in commercial real estate projects. Since Genevieve designed and launched the country’s first C-PACE program in 2013, C-PACE has been adopted in 38 states. She was pivotal in designing Connecticut’s first successful C-PACE program and co-founded Greenworks Lending, which evolved into NGC where she expanded C-PACE policy across states, established a multistate securitization framework, and aided in achieving over $1.5 billion in originations. Recognized for her efforts, Genevieve recently won an ACEEE award.
Alexandra Harrison, President, Industrial, BBB Industries, United States
Starting with a solar installation company, Alexandra's career ultimately lead her to join Ontility as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Procurement.
In 2021, Ontility was acquired by BBB Industries, LLC, a company committed to sustainable manufacturing practices. As the General Manager, now President, Industrial, and driving force behind Ontility, Alexandra continues to spearhead the team's efforts in reducing the solar industry's carbon footprint. Under Alexandra's steadfast guidance, Ontility has made significant strides in the realm of solar power, actively promoting sustainable practices and pioneering initiatives to minimize environmental impact. Her exceptional leadership and innovative approach have positioned Ontility as a frontrunner in the quest for a greener future.
"I've worked alongside several incredible pet industry leaders, many of whom are women, driving sustainable development and positive change for our planet. Sustainability leaders tend to work with a clear sense of purpose, striving for progress and improvement over perfection, which will help people make informed choices for our planet."
- Christine Mallier, Sustainability & Community Relations Manager, Petcurean Pet Nutrition, Canada
Christine Mallier, Petcurean’s first-ever Sustainability and Community Relations Manager, is deeply committed to sustainability as it pertains to people, pets and the planet. Christine is passionate about her role as a sustainability leader, and her impact extends beyond her professional commitments, with countless hours spent volunteering with organizations that share her values and love for animal wellness and sustainability. Through her work, Christine strives to inspire others to pursue sustainable lifestyle choices that positively impact our world.
"Women leaders embody the synergy of compassion and innovation, playing an essential role in shaping sustainable solutions for our planet's most urgent challenges. Through their leadership, we witness a fusion of vision and action, driving both environmental and social progress."
- Jennifer Motles, Chief Sustainability Officer, Philip Morris International, Switzerland
Jennifer is an International and Human Rights lawyer and Chief Sustainability Officer for Philip Morris
International (PMI). She joined the company in 2015 and helped craft PMI’s sustainability strategy, ensuring it was intrinsically linked to the adoption of the company’s vision of delivering a smoke-free future. Since Jennifer assumed the role of CSO in 2020, PMI has been recognized as a sustainability leader by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index
(DJSI). It was also named one of just 10 companies worldwide to receive CDP’s prestigious “triple-A”
score for its efforts to combat climate change, protect forests, and ensure water security.
"Women leaders are the driving force behind sustainable development, melding innovative solutions with empathy to address our planet's most pressing environmental and social dilemmas. Their unique perspectives not only enrich the discourse but catalyze transformative actions for a better tomorrow."
- Sue Nangia, CFO & Vice President, Belnor Engineering Inc, Canada
As the CFO and VP of Belnor Engineering Inc., Sue stands at the intersection of finance and green building innovation. With over 25 years in the industry, her financial expertise has seamlessly interwoven profitability with the firm's commitment to sustainable business, eco-conscious design, renewable energy technology, and smart city initiatives. She has been instrumental in steering the company towards setting benchmarks in green building practices while ensuring a solid financial foundation. Her visionary management to harmonize financial strategies with sustainable goals has positioned the firm as an industry frontrunner. Recognized for her forward-thinking approach, Sue's leadership not only propels the firm's financial growth but also reinforces its reputation as a beacon for sustainable advancements in the construction and engineering sector.
"Women engage with the world differently because of our cultural and social roles in global communities. Our distinct lens into use of natural resources, social parity and equity, and how institutions and governing bodies can establish future-proof practices are vital for informing and creating a more sustainable future."
- Helen Sahi, Sustainability Strategy & Engagement Director, BIC, United States
Currently as BIC's Sustainability Strategy & Engagement Director, Helen is a distinguished thought leader known for driving sustainability outcomes in diverse, global settings. Previously as VP of Sustainability at Armstrong World Industries, she developed and executed a transformative 2030 sustainability and ESG vision. Throughout her career, including pivotal roles at organizations like Unifi Manufacturing and Avery Dennison Corporation, she has been instrumental in embedding sustainability into the heart of business operations.
"Climate change is a feminist issue, and acknowledging this intersectionality is more than just a principle—it's an essential component of achieving the SDGs. Empowering women leaders holds the key to stronger, financial, and climate-resilient communities that will accelerate inclusion, economic stability, and long-term peace for the world."
- Durreen Shahnaz, CEO & Founder, Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), Singapore
Durreen Shahnaz, founder of the Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and IIX Foundation, is a global leader in social impact and impact investing. IIX connects the Back Streets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world by innovating financial solutions and structures for women empowerment, climate action, and community resilience. She is the recipient of the 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award, often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Business’, and the 2016 Asia Society Asia Game Changer Award. Recently, she was named in the Forbes 50 over 50 list as a notable leader in the financial industry and has authored a book titled "The Defiant Optimist".
"Fundamental systems-thinking is intrinsic amongst females, with an underlying compassion and awareness of the impact on people, profit and the planet."
- Meryl Sukumar, Founder, Subcinctus Consulting, Australia
A seasoned sustainability & circular economy expert, Meryl has dedicated over a decade to devising sustainability strategies, transitioning clients to circular operations across various sectors. By developing circular, decarbonization and sustainability-related solutions for the ESG pillars she merges sustainability with economic value. Meryl's engineering background, combined with experience in energy optimization, has led her to craft growth strategies that elevate organizations globally. Recognitions include being named among the "Top 200 Voices in Leadership in 2023" and spotlighted in "15 Australian Consulting Firms to Watch in 2021".
"Einstein warned against repeating the same actions and expecting different outcomes; yet, while patriarchal decisions often lean towards techno-centered solutions, it's women who champion the essential wisdom of indigenous peoples and nature-based approaches to combat climate change."
- Antoinette Vermilye, Co-Founder, Gallifrey Foundation, Switzerland
Co-founder of the Gallifrey Foundation and She Changes Climate, Antoinette is deeply invested in understanding the intricate ties between the ocean, plastics, gender, overfishing, social injustice, and environmental and human health. Committed to forging coalitions, her work touches upon overfishing's impact on oceans and migrants, the effects of plastics on health and the environment, and relevant legal action. A recognized International Gender champion, Antoinette also founded the Ocean for Ecocide Law network, advocating for Ecocide Law's acceptance as the 5th Crime in the International Criminal Court, amongst many other changemaking initiatives.
"Women leaders play a crucial role in driving sustainable development and addressing global environmental and social challenges by bringing diverse perspectives, promoting inclusivity, and prioritizing issues such as gender equality and climate change that are essential for long-term progress and well-being"
- Sreelakshmi Menon, State President, Kerala SDG Council, Women's Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, India
Sreelakshmi is a distinguished development expert specializing in sustainability and CSR who leads the skill development portfolio at the HCL Foundation. Actively involved in shaping sustainability frameworks, she heads the Kerala SDG Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and is a recognized member of the Global 100 Women Leaders from India. Passionate about youth advocacy, she mentors young leaders through the UNDP-supported Movers Program. Her global influence is further solidified as an ambassador for both Global Sustainability, Dubai, and CSR with Sustainability Promoters, UK.
"Women leaders are smart, thoughtful and often excellent communicators. They are a critical part of any movement."
- Dr Kimberley Miner, Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion lab, United States
Dr. Kimberley R. Miner is a Climate Scientist and Program Manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Her research on climate risks has taken her to the planet’s extreme environments- from the North Pole to Antarctica and Mt. Everest.
Dedicated to science communication, Kimberley’s research teams have reached international audiences with features in the BBC, NYT, GQ, and a 2020 Guinness World Record.
Before coming to NASA, Kimberley worked on climate security for the Department of Defense in DC, and currently teaches her work at Berkley and Virginia Tech. She is also writing a book on how younger generations can plan for climate change--to be released in early 2024.
"Women are more intuitive to sustainability needs, because as mothers they have a closer relation to what is pure and what is contaminated. Women will be much stronger about not allowing greenwash practices in the economy."
- Lindsey Boyle, Strategist & Founder, Circular Citizen Consulting, Canada
Lindsey is founder of Circular Citizen Consulting, a B Corp-certified consultancy. She is a business leader, researcher, board director, writer and speaker. Before realizing the climate crisis and the inequities of its impact were undeniable, Lindsey had 20+ years experience in strategic marketing for consumer packaged goods companies in the food and beverage industry and then as an insights agency partner mobilizing and empowering global multidisciplinary teams working on innovation where she conducted research for clients, including Google, and many countries around the world. Lindsey is a co-founder and now Board Chair of the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture fueling nature-positive, regenerative farms.
"The unique perspective of women in leadership positions is key for driving the needed changes for a sustainable future because they generally have a more comprehensive understanding of environmental and social issues."
- Roberta Boscolo, Climate & Energy Lead, World Meteorological Organization, Switzerland
Roberta, as the Climate and Energy Lead at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), boasts over two decades of expertise in developing climate services for the Water-Energy-Food nexus across continents. She manages a vast portfolio of projects aimed at fortifying global climate change strategies and sustainable development. Additionally, she helms the WMO's Climate and Energy programme, focusing on services for energy resilience and renewable energy. By forging strategic partnerships across sectors, Roberta bridges the gap between climate science and socio-economic interests, especially within the energy domain. Her unwavering dedication to fostering resilient, low-carbon energy solutions has positioned her as a recognized Thought Leader in her sector.
"Historically, women have been care givers and community social-fabric builders, these are intrinsic abilities that support sustainable development in all its dimensions. The new economy: knowledge, care-wellbeing, low carbon, digitalization needs women's participation."
- Honourable Senator Rosa Galvez, Senate of Canada, Canada
Rosa Galvez is a foremost expert on pollution control and its health impacts, holding a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering. With 25+ years as a professor at Université Laval à Québec, she's specialized in areas like water decontamination and climate risk. Beyond academia, Senator Galvez has advised on international agreements, notably regarding the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River protection. Appointed to the Senate in 2016, she chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. Her extensive contributions, including spearheading the Climate-Aligned Finance Act, have earned her awards such as the Clean50 Award 2021 and the 2023 Top 25 Women of Influence Award.
"Women leaders, representing 50% of the population yet often underrepresented, play a pivotal role in driving sustainable development and addressing global challenges. Since the UN SDGs affect everyone, it’s essential that everyone has an equal seat at the table - no matter their gender, race, sexuality, or economic status."
- Michelle Benavides, Executive Director, International Society of Sustainability Professionals, United States
Michelle Benavides is an international nonprofit executive director, successful business leader, international trainer, and strategic community-builder. She leads the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) mission to empower sustainability professionals across the workforce around the world through capacity building and collaboration. As a LEED AP BD+C-credentialed high-performance buildings educator, USGBC faculty member, and Fitwel Ambassador, Michelle has trained more than 2,000 professionals.
"I strongly believe that there isn’t anything women can’t accomplish once they set their minds to it. Our tenacity, resilience, and sisterhood is rooted in accomplishment and I sleep better at night knowing that some incredible women are focusing their time and energy on today’s global challenges."
- Dr Dale Perry, AVP, Climate & Environmental Risk, Sun Life Financial, United States
Dr. Dale Perry currently serves as the AVP of Climate Change and Environmental Risk for Sun Life where she is responsible for leading the integration of climate- and nature-based risks across the Sun Life enterprise. Prior to joining Sun Life she worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 20 years. She is known as a results-oriented transformational change leader with a proven record of designing and implementing strategic, nation-wide work products relating to environmental risk and communication. She is an expert in creating measurable impacts related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility resulting in a more inclusive EPA.
"Women leaders play a pivotal role in addressing urgent environmental and social challenges. Leadership manifests in diverse contexts from global to the local and the diversity of their expertise, insights, and experiences is essential to driving transformative solutions."
- Katherine Foster, Executive Director, Green Digital Finance Alliance, Switzerland
Katherine is the Executive Director of the Green Digital Finance Alliance (GDFA). A former Canadian diplomat specializing in climate and human security, she has been spearheading impact innovation for 30 years in leadership roles with the EU Climate-KIC, FIDES Microfinance, GDFA, and as Sherpa to the UN’s Secretary General’s Task Force on Digital Financing. She served as an advisor to the World Bank on blockchain for carbon markets, to the Bank of International Settlement on Project Genesis, and to award winning climate and SDG start-ups. Katherine serves on several boards and committees including the EU EIT-Food, the UNFCCC Global Innovation Hub, the Capitals Coalition, and the UNEP Digital Circular Economy Lab.
"Women are often less wedded to the status quo and able to envision a different and better future, possess the empathy and emotional intelligence necessary to be effective change agents, and are often fueled by a deep courage that may come from a compulsion to create a better word for our children."
- Freya Williams, Founder, Green Giants Etc,, United States
For 20+ years, Freya is a sustainability leader harnessing the power of business and brands to transform the world. She is the author of Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability Into Billion-Dollar Businesses and the founder of Green Giants Etc, a boutique sustainability, purpose strategy, and marketing advisory firm. Previous roles include CEO, North America of Futerra, founder of OgilvyEarth and leader of Edelman New York's social purpose practice. Freya has advised organizations as varied as Google, The Estee Lauder Companies, Colgate Palmolive and the UN with her work being featured in The Financial Times, The Economist, the BBC, and Bloomberg and taught at America's top business schools.
"In the symphony of sustainable development, women and men are equal maestros, weaving harmony with their unique strengths. Women, with their nurturing spirit, illuminate our collective journey, underlining that sustainability is a shared endeavor, a unity dance of empathy, resilience, and transformative action."
- Joy Gai, Founder, Joy of Sustainability & Asia Pacific Programs Head, World Green Building Council, Singapore
Joy, with over a decade of experience in sustainable design, is the founder of Joy of Sustainability LLP, a unique platform that bridges sustainability design, delivery, and user engagement through coaching. As the World Green Building Council Asia Pacific Programs Head and an adjunct lecturer, she champions green initiatives and educational endeavors. Joy's role as a Mastery Certified Life Coach enhances her approach, combining technical sustainability expertise with positive psychology. She has pioneered many net-zero building and eco-city projects while making sustainability accessible and impactful for all.
"Women, with their innate skills of deep listening, compassion, and collaboration, are vital to addressing today's SDG challenges. Their holistic approach, stemming from roles as mothers, partners, and workers, is crucial for integrated and comprehensive solutions."
- Pia Heidenmark Cook, Senior Advisor Teneo & Eurazeo and Board of Directors, Bupa & Decathalon, Sweden
Pia Heidenmark Cook, previously the Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA, led the acclaimed People and Planet Positive strategy, helping IKEA become a top sustainable brand. She now serves as a senior advisor with Teneo's ESG and Sustainability team and Eurazeo, and holds board positions across companies like Bupa and Decathalon, spanning various sectors in Europe and the US. Recognized as a top female sustainability leader and celebrated for her work in sustainability since 1996, Pia was highlighted by CEO Magazine in 2023 among the top 20 sustainability voices. She's also known for her impactful TED talk on IKEA's sustainable growth titled: “How IKEA is Growing Business Whilst Shrinking Emissions”.
"As 50% of the population we cannot ignore the critical, significant, and decisive role that women can play in not only driving sustainable development, but in "leading" efforts to address the climate crisis."
- Stacy Swann, Founding Partner & Former CEO, Climate Finance Advisors, United States
Ms. Swann, former CEO and Founding Partner of Climate Finance Advisors, boasts over twenty-five years in project finance, investment, and climate sustainability. Throughout her career, she's held prominent roles at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the US Department of Treasury, and more, specializing in climate-resilient investment and blended finance. Under her leadership, Climate Finance Advisors experienced over 100% average annual growth, culminating in a successful acquisition in 2022. Additionally, she serves on various Boards of Directors and is an Adjunct Professor at American University's Kogod School of Business, guiding future business leaders on the financial implications of climate change.
"As the United Nations says, 'Women are finding solutions for our ailing planet but are not given the platforms they deserve.' Female leaders need to ensure that other women’s voices—from a diverse spectrum—are included."
- Anne Usher, Climate Resilience Consultant, United States
Anne Usher, with a decade's experience in environmental initiatives, has collaborated with the U.S. Agency for International Development, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and served as an independent consultant. Holding a master's in natural resource management from Virginia Tech, she boasts expertise in climate resilience and sustainability, drawn from a range of reputable projects and certifications. Her recent consulting includes advising a Malaysian startup developing seaweed-based bioplastics, relaunching OpenOceans Global focusing on ocean plastic pollution, and pioneering a blue carbon initiative in La Jolla. Before 2013, Anne was a global journalist, having worked in Washington, D.C., Japan, Israel, and conducting environmental investigations in Indonesia. Anne is a member of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals.
"Women and men are needed to shape the future. Women are particularly effective in meeting future business challenges."
- Maria Atkinson, Sustainability Consultant, Atkinson Consultancy, Australia
Maria is an globally recognized environmental scientist and Chairperson of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. In 2012, she was awarded a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia for service to the sustainable construction and real estate sector. She has worked for 15+ years in impact investment and with many institutions while participating in international forums. Past roles include Chair of the UN’s Sustainable Buildings & Climate Initiative, advisor to the Finance Initiative Property Group, expert panel member of the Singapore Building & Construction Authority, and Co-Chair of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Sustainable Construction.
"Women leaders offer a unique set of perspectives and experiences when it comes to teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, and particularly amplifying traditionally underrepresented voices. These skillsets are especially critical when it comes to maintaining sustainable practices and driving positive social change at a global scale."
- Shawna Pandya, Physician, Aquanaut & Director, IIAS Space Medicine Group, Canada
Dr. Shawna Pandya is a physician, aquanaut, scientist-astronaut candidate with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), skydiver, pilot-in-training, VP Immersive Medicine with Luxsonic Technologies, Medical advisor at Above Space Development Corporation and Fellow of the Explorers Club. She is Director of IIAS’ Space Medicine Group, Chief Instructor for IIAS’ Operational Space Medicine course, a host with the World Extreme Medicine’s podcast series, Primary Investigator for the Shad Canada-Blue Origin student microgravity competition, member of the AIAA ASCEND Guiding Coalition, and sessional lecturer for "Technology and the Future of Medicine" at the University of Alberta.
"Women have been working in sustainability-related fields often unseen and undervalued for decades. Now is the time for women's leadership in sustainability to be embraced at the highest levels of industry and society as we bring our superb problem solving skills, our strategic mindsets and our thoughtfulness into the light."
- Natasha Stromberg, AVP, Head of Stewardship & Sustainable Investing, Mackenzie Investments, Canada
Natasha serves as the Head of Sustainable Stewardship at Mackenzie Investments, spearheading their global sustainable stewardship strategy since 2021. With a profound background in Capital Markets and International securities regulation, she held senior roles in London's investment banking sector and was a pivotal regulator at the U.K Financial Services Authority, authoring international commodity market regulations. Engaging with major global corporations, her team at Mackenzie enacts their Climate Action Engagement program, reinforcing a Net Zero commitment. An authority in climate financial policy, Natasha interacts with prominent financial bodies like the ISSB and the SEC advocating for a low carbon economy.
Anica Landreneau, Global Director of Sustainable Design, HOK, United States
Anica serves as HOK's global sustainable design director and holds seats on the firm's board of directors and design board. Based in Washington, D.C., she's a mayoral appointee to the District of Columbia’s Green Building Advisory Council and co-chairs the Building Energy Performance Standard Task Force. Beyond these roles, her expertise has been sought after nationally, with her serving as a senior fellow of the New Buildings Institute, contributing to the USGBC LEED Advisory Committee, and co-authoring with the AIA Blue Ribbon Panel. Her testimony before Congress has influenced key building policies, making its mark in reports and acts like the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act of 2021. Recognized for her strategic insights, Anica is a driving force in crafting a sustainable future for both the architectural realm and broader urban development.
"From NGOs to corporations, academia to international development, women leaders are powerfully driving policy changes for sustainability and spearheading the relentless pursuit of SDG goals."
- Smita Siddhanti, Founder & President, EnDyna Inc., United States
Dr. Smita Siddhanti is the founder and President of EnDyna Inc., a firm specializing in environmental and management consulting for federal agencies. Renowned for her contributions in Environmental Risk Assessment and Climate Change initiatives, she actively supports interagency groups on climate resiliency. Previously the president of the DC Chapter of TiE, she now leads TiE's Global Special Interest Group on Sustainability. As a board member of WHEELS Global Foundation, she emphasizes sustainable rural enterprise development. Holding advanced degrees from several institutions, she's authored publications, including a book on genetically engineered organisms, and invests in green tech startups.
"Women leaders are playing an increasing impactful role in embedding sustainability in all walks of industry, including traditionally male-dominated sectors."
- Yichao Chen, Director, Climate & Energy, Cadillac Fairview, Canada
Yichao Chen is a professional engineer with over a decade of experience in building energy performance, decarbonization, and sustainable building policy frameworks. She is the Director of Climate & Energy at Cadillac Fairview - a globally focused owner, operator, investor, and developer of best-in-class real estate. Yichao is responsible for energy and emission management, as well as decarbonization and climate resilience strategies for CF’s commercial real estate portfolio in Canada and beyond. She currently serves on the Canada Green Building Council Energy& Engineering Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and has served on the USGBC LEED for Cities and Communities Committee between 2022-2023 and LEED Technical Committee between 2018-2022.
"Women leaders are driving sustainable development and addressing global environmental and social challenges. Their integration of sustainability into core business strategies, coupled with their ability to foster innovation and promote diversity, plays a crucial role in creating a more sustainable and prosperous future."
- Dr Nisha Kohli, CEO & Founder, Corpstage Pte Ltd, Singapore
Nisha, with over 22 years of experience, is the CEO and Founder of Corpstage, advising companies on sustainable values and ESG management. Passionate about the intricate relationship between sustainability and entrepreneurship, she emphasizes the need for holistic approaches to global issues and fosters cooperation for enhancing corporate reputation. Under her guidance, companies strategically prioritize sustainability alongside profitability. Recognized with the Corporate Governance Research Scholar award from International Corporate Governance Network in 2008, Nisha has contributed extensively to international journals such as Harvard Business School Press, Richard Ivey, Cambridge, and more, underscoring her expertise in the field.
Bonnie-Lyn de Bartok, Founder & CEO, The Social Factor Data Company, Canada
Bonnie-Lyn de Bartok is the visionary founder of The Social Factor Data Company. With a deep commitment to enhancing transparency and accountability in financial markets, she has established herself as a leader in the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) sector. Her firm harnesses advanced technology to provide actionable insights into social impact, bridging the gap between data and ethical investment decisions. Throughout her career, Bonnie-Lyn has consistently championed the integration of social metrics into investment strategies. Her innovative approach positions her at the forefront of sustainable and responsible investing.
Catherine Prince, VP, Director of Climate Resilience, WSP, United States
Catherine Prince is the esteemed Director of Climate Resilience at WSP, a leading global professional services firm. With a commitment to pioneering sustainable solutions, she has been instrumental in integrating climate considerations into WSP's vast array of projects. Catherine's leadership has ensured that WSP remains at the forefront of creating resilient infrastructures, safeguarding communities against the ever-increasing challenges of climate change. Her comprehensive expertise and forward-thinking approach have established her as a thought leader in the field. Under her guidance, WSP continues to set benchmarks in climate-resilient strategies and innovations.
"Women leaders add diverse perspectives to development practice, which drives innovative approaches to addressing sustainability. Diversity in leadership empowers our society to join the conversation, leading to more equitable solutions for global challenges."
- Joanna Frank, President & CEO, Center for Active Design, United States
Joanna Frank, a real estate entrepreneur, is the founding President & CEO of Active Design Advisors, Inc. (ADAI) and the non-profit research organization Center for Active Design (CfAD), which operates Fitwel—a leading healthy building certification rooted in global public health evidence. Previously, she spearheaded health-based real estate initiatives under NYC's Bloomberg administration, including NYC’s FRESH Program and the Active Design Initiative. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute's Affordable/Workforce Housing Council and Fannie Mae's Multifamily Housing Taskforce. In 2022, she was listed on the Commercial Observer Power 100 list and named a Woman of Influence in real estate by multiple platforms.
This category celebrates women who ignited the sustainability journey long before it was a recognized concept, or who've showcased remarkable leadership in this realm. These trailblazers have not only championed sustainability but also empowered more women, questioned prevailing norms, and devoted their lives to improving the world. Their enduring contributions have fostered today's era, where sustainability and sustainable growth have gained paramount importance in various sectors. The understanding that sustainability is an imperative, not just an option, has been driven forward by such visionary pioneers like:
Winona Laduke, American Economist & Environmentalist, United States
Winona LaDuke is an internationally acclaimed environmental activist, economist, and writer, known for her lifelong commitment to indigenous sustainability and advocacy. Of Ojibwe descent, she hails from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota and has tirelessly championed the rights of indigenous groups. Throughout her career, Winona has merged activism with policy by running for vice president as the nominee of the Green Party of the United States in 1996 and 2000. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a grassroots initiative aimed at reclaiming ancestral lands and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. A staunch opponent of unsustainable energy projects, she has played pivotal roles in campaigns against fossil fuel pipelines. As a writer, her works underline the convergence of indigenous wisdom and the contemporary sustainability movement. Recognized globally for her efforts, Winona's relentless drive and pioneering initiatives make her a fitting honoree for any sustainability awards program. Her vision for a sustainable future is deeply rooted in indigenous traditions, emphasizing coexistence, respect, and ecological responsibility.
Biruté Galdikas, Canadian Anthropologist & Primatologist, Canada
Birutė Galdikas is a world-leading primatologist, conservationist, and ethologist, revered for her extensive work with orangutans. Born in Lithuania and raised in Canada, her passion took her to the rainforests of Borneo where, for decades, she studied and advocated for these endangered primates. Co-founded by Galdikas, the Orangutan Research and Conservation Program became the starting point for her lifelong commitment to conservation. Her groundbreaking field studies revolutionized the understanding of orangutan behavior and their habitat. Galdikas' dedication led to the foundation of Orangutan Foundation International, championing the protection of both orangutans and their rainforest home. A tireless defender of Borneo's biodiversity, she's been pivotal in rehabilitating and releasing hundreds of captive orangutans. Honoring her contributions to science and sustainability, Birutė Galdikas has received numerous accolades and remains a beacon in global conservation efforts.
Jane Goodall, English Primatologist & Anthropologist, United Kingdom
Jane Goodall is a globally celebrated primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist, best known for her pioneering research on wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Beginning her studies in 1960, she made groundbreaking discoveries about chimp behavior, notably their use of tools, challenging prior scientific beliefs. Her dedication led to the foundation of the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977, which promotes wildlife research, conservation, and education. A tireless advocate for environmental and animal rights, Goodall has expanded her work to global conservation and youth empowerment through the Roots & Shoots program. With numerous accolades recognizing her trailblazing efforts, she has been a UN Messenger of Peace since 2002. Beyond her scientific contributions, Goodall's commitment to compassion and understanding between all living beings continues to inspire. As a recipient of countless honors, she remains a leading voice for conservation, urging us all to make a positive difference in the world.
Esther An, Chair, World Green Building Council Corporate Advisory Board,
Esther An is a prominent sustainability leader and Chief Sustainability Officer at City Developments Limited (CDL), a global real estate company. With over two decades at CDL, Esther has been instrumental in establishing the company's reputation as a pioneer in sustainable real estate development. Under her guidance, CDL became the first Singaporean company to be listed on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. She played a key role in integrating sustainability practices across CDL's operations, resulting in numerous global accolades for the company. Beyond her corporate role, Esther is an active contributor to global sustainability initiatives and dialogues, frequently representing Singapore in international conferences. As a respected voice in the industry, her insights and strategies have paved the way for others. Her unwavering dedication and leadership in the sustainability arena make Esther a trailblazer in advancing corporate sustainability on both a local and global scale.
Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientist, Canada & United States
Katharine Hayhoe is an esteemed atmospheric scientist whose research focuses on understanding climate change and reducing associated impacts. As a Professor of Political Science at Texas Tech University, she directs the Climate Science Center. Katharine is renowned for her ability to communicate complex climate science concepts to the general public, making her a sought-after speaker and consultant. Beyond her academic pursuits, she has co-authored the book "A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions." Katharine's work emphasizes the relevance of climate change to people's daily lives, bridging the gap between science and faith communities. She's been recognized by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people and by Fortune as one of the world's greatest leaders. Through her efforts, Katharine plays a pivotal role in enlightening diverse audiences about the pressing issue of global climate change.
Sunita Narain, Indian Environmentalist & Political Activist, India
Sunita Narain is a distinguished environmentalist and political activist, known for her pioneering work in India and on global challenges. As the Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and the editor of the publication "Down To Earth," she has been instrumental in voicing the environmental concerns of developing nations. Sunita has advocated for sustainable development practices, drawing attention to issues like water conservation, air pollution, and climate change. She was a key player in the global negotiations for the Climate Change Agreement in Paris in 2015. Recognized for her relentless advocacy, she received the World Water Prize for work on rainwater harvesting and for running the rural water literacy campaign in India. Throughout her career, Sunita has merged scientific research with activism, ensuring that policies and practices are grounded in sound science and sustainability principles. Her work has earned her numerous accolades, making her a prominent figure in the global environmental community.
Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Social, Environmental & Political Activist, Kenya
Wangari Maathai was a renowned Kenyan environmental and political activist who founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental NGO focused on tree planting, conservation, and women's rights. She became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her commitment to "sustainable development, democracy, and peace." Through her initiative, over 50 million trees have been planted across Kenya, creating jobs and improving the environment. Maathai was also the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In her multifaceted career, she served as an MP and was the Deputy Minister in the Kenyan government, advocating for environmental conservation and good governance. As an author, her works offer profound insights into the links between the environment, democratic space, and peace. Wangari Maathai's tireless dedication and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the global sustainability movement, and her legacy continues to inspire environmentalists worldwide.
Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom
Caroline Lucas is a prominent British politician, widely recognized for her fervent advocacy on environmental and social issues. As the first and only Green Party Member of Parliament (MP) in the UK, she represents the Brighton Pavilion constituency. Prior to her tenure in Parliament, Lucas served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the South East region, using the platform to champion environmental, peace, and human rights causes. A vocal critic of austerity policies, she's consistently pushed for sustainable economic measures. As a co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, she helped amplify its influence and relevance in national conversations. Throughout her political journey, Lucas has been at the forefront of campaigns against fracking, nuclear power, and in support of action on climate change. An accomplished author, her writings focus on green economics, localism, and radical politics. Caroline Lucas remains a formidable voice in British politics, persistently advocating for a greener, more equitable future.
Isatou Ceesay, Gambian Activist & Social Entrepreneur, Gambia
Isatou Ceesay is hailed as the "Queen of Recycling" in The Gambia and has been a trailblazing environmental activist for over two decades. Born in Njau, Gambia, her transformative journey began when she observed the detrimental impacts of plastic waste on her community's environment and health. In 1997, she co-founded the Women’s Initiative Gambia (WIG), which empowers women to upcycle plastic waste into sellable products, simultaneously addressing environmental challenges and providing economic opportunities. This initiative not only reduces waste but also provides crucial training and literacy programs for women. Her groundbreaking efforts have been recognized globally, and she's often invited to international conferences to share her insights on grassroots environmentalism. Ceesay's story was prominently featured in the award-winning book "One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia". Throughout her career, Ceesay has combined environmental stewardship with women's empowerment, emphasizing that community-led solutions can yield sustainable change. Her unwavering dedication showcases the transformative power of local action in addressing global environmental challenges.
Jennifer Granholm, United States Secretary of Energy, United States
Jennifer Granholm has carved an indelible mark in the realms of politics and energy policy. Born in British Columbia, Canada, she later moved to the U.S. and embarked on a career that saw her become the first woman to serve as Governor of Michigan from 2003 to 2011. During her tenure, she adeptly steered the state through a severe economic downturn and championed the diversification of its economy, emphasizing clean energy industries. After her governorship, she continued her advocacy for renewable energy and technology, teaching courses on the subject at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2021, she was confirmed as the U.S. Secretary of Energy, tasked with advancing President Joe Biden's ambitious energy and climate agenda. Granholm's focus has consistently been on the intersection of clean energy, job creation, and economic revitalization. Her leadership and vision underscore her commitment to a sustainable and prosperous future.