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ESG News Releases ‘Top 14 Inspiring Women Leading The Fight Against Climate Change’

ESG News Releases ‘Top 14 Inspiring Women Leading The Fight Against Climate Change’

Inspiring Women Leading The Fight Against Climate Change
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We’ve listed the Top 14 women in sustainability, whose influence, leadership and dedication have helped to shape the fight against climate change.

Women have been instrumental in driving the sustainability movement forward. From advocating for climate justice to developing innovative solutions to environmental challenges, women play a critical role in creating a more sustainable world. 

That’s why, we’ve listed the top 14 women to watch in 2024, who are going above and beyond to drive sustainable change in their industries. These women are extraordinary, whose impact we feel every day and whose work is shaping the future. 

Here’s a deeper look at 14 such women making a tangible difference:

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

1. Christiana Figueres: The Diplomat: As the former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Figueres wasn’t just leading an organization; she was steering the ship during a period of immense international tension. Her diplomatic prowess was on full display in 2015 when she spearheaded the creation of the Paris Agreement, a landmark accord uniting nearly 200 nations with a common goal of limiting global warming.

Christiana Figueres, appointed Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC in 2010, continued her role for a second term in 2013. Engaged in climate change negotiations since 1995, she initially represented Costa Rica and held key positions like Vice President of the Conference of the Parties in 2008-2009. Figueres founded the Centre for Sustainable Development of the Americas in 1995 and has been involved in various non-governmental boards. She holds a Masters in Anthropology and a certificate in Organizational Development, contributing significantly to global climate policy.

Kate Brandt, Google‘s Chief Sustainability Officer

2. Kate Brandt: The Tech Titan Tamer: In the realm of big tech, Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kate Brant, isn’t just focused on the company’s bottom line. Brant is a sustainability champion, driving Google’s efforts to minimize its environmental footprint. This translates to large-scale investments in renewable energy sources and pioneering sustainable infrastructure initiatives that set a precedent for the entire tech industry.

As Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kate leads sustainability across our worldwide operations, products and supply chain, coordinating with data center, real estate, and product teams to ensure the company capitalizes on opportunities to strategically advance sustainability.

Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer

3. Rebecca Marmot: The Changemaker Within: Large corporations have a significant role to play in combating climate change, and Rebecca Marmot understands this well. As Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Marmot isn’t just another name on the corporate ladder; she’s a change agent. She spearheads ambitious goals to reduce the environmental impact of Unilever’s vast product lines, from sourcing to manufacturing and packaging. Her influence extends beyond Unilever, inspiring other corporations to embrace sustainable practices.

Advocating at the UN 2023 Water Conference, she urges global businesses to commit to actions for clean water access. A sought-after speaker, Marmot’s passion for sustainability motivates corporate audiences, drawing from her impactful career.

Marina Silva, former Brazilian Minister of the Environment

4. Marina Silva: The Voice of the Amazon: A name synonymous with rainforest conservation, Marina Silva is a renowned environmental activist and former Brazilian Minister of the Environment. Silva has been a vocal advocate for protecting the Amazon, a critical resource in the fight against climate change. The Amazon rainforest is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet,” and Silva’s unwavering dedication to its preservation is a testament to her unwavering commitment to our planet’s health.

Kathleen McGinty, Chief Sustainability and External Relations Officer for Johnson Control

5. Kathleen/Katie McGinty, VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Johnson Controls, drives top-tier sustainability performance, positioning the company among the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations. With over 25 years of experience, she advocates for technology development and policies to combat climate change, enhance energy efficiency, and promote impactful net-zero carbon strategies. McGinty, recognized for her environmental leadership, holds key positions on various boards and has received numerous awards for her contributions to sustainability and clean energy.

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Beatriz Perez, Global Chief Communications, Sustainability & Strategic Partnerships Officer for The Coca-Cola Company

6. Beatriz “Bea” Perez, EVP and Global Chief Communications, Sustainability & Strategic Partnerships Officer at The Coca-Cola Company, oversees a diverse portfolio, managing teams driving global leadership in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments. Leading internal and external communications, she directs digital media strategy, global brand public relations, and business performance for retail assets. As the company’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, Perez played a pivotal role in initiatives like the World Without Waste program and advancing water stewardship and women’s economic empowerment. Recognized for her achievements, she serves on various boards and chairs The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Velislava Ivanova, EY Americas Chief Sustainability Officer

7. Velislava Ivanova, leading EY’s sustainability initiatives, oversees a team of 500 professionals dedicated to sustainability advisory, reporting, and assurance services. Acknowledged as the 8th Top Leader in Sustainability by Sustainability Magazine in 2022, she focuses on driving sustainability transformation across sectors and promoting a transition to a low-carbon and circular economy. With an inclusive leadership style, Veli champions collaboration, innovative ESG solutions, and mentors the next generation of sustainability professionals.

Paulette Frank, Chief Sustainability Officer at Johnson & Johnson

8. Paulette Frank, Chief Sustainability Officer at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), boasts over 25 years with the company. Leading J&J’s environmental sustainability and human rights strategies, she shapes the company’s direction toward resilience, equity, and sustainability. Frank’s commitment to a healthy planet aligns with J&J’s climate goals, including renewable electricity, carbon neutrality, and energy efficiency. She collaborates on initiatives addressing climate change, health equity, and resilience, earning recognition for her leadership and advocacy.

Kathryn Alsegaf, Global Chief Sustainability Officer for Deloitte

9. Kathryn Alsegaf: Kathy is the Global Chief Sustainability Officer for Deloitte. Her responsibilities include oversight and advancement of Deloitte’s WorldClimate strategy and overall environmental objectives. In her position she drives adoption of sustainability programs, policies, and initiatives across the Deloitte network. She is responsible for Deloitte’s greenhouse gas inventory, development and tracking of carbon reduction goals, and for external reporting on sustainability. She works closely with Deloitte firms and enabling areas to promote greater environmental responsibility and to engage all 330,000 Deloitte professionals to address climate change.

Melanie Nakagawa, Microsoft’s Chief Sustainability Officer

10. Melanie Nakagawa: Melanie is Microsoft’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Ms. Nakagawa has spent nearly 2 decades at the nexus of policy, business and technology where she has been committed to using the power of technology and innovation to advance sustainability. Ms. Nakagawa leads Microsoft’s ambitious plans to become a carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste company. She most recently served as Special Assistant to President Biden and Senior Director for Climate and Energy on the National Security Council at the White House. Prior to the White House, she helped launch Princeville Capital’s inaugural global growth equity climate technology fund investing in companies delivering transformative solutions to climate change. Ms. Nakagawa received a J.D. and M.A. from American University and A.B from Brown University.

Valerie Smith, Chief Sustainability Officer, Citi

11. Valerie Smith: Citi’s first Chief Sustainability Officer since 2019, leads the Sustainability & ESG team, shaping the bank’s 2025 Sustainable Progress Strategy and key initiatives, including the $250 Billion Environmental Finance Goal. Overseeing climate risk disclosure and the Principles for Responsible Banking implementation, she serves as an advisor on sustainable finance, TCFD, stakeholder engagement, human rights, ESG integration, and net-zero carbon trends. With a decade in the environmental sector before Citi, Smith holds positions on various boards and committees, contributing to sustainable finance and conservation efforts.

Melinda French Gates, Chairperson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

12. Melinda French Gates: Melinda French Gates, philanthropist and co-chair of the Gates Foundation, shapes strategies to improve global equity. Over two decades, she’s witnessed the transformative impact of empowering women and girls on health, prosperity, and climate resilience. Founder of Pivotal Ventures in 2015, she focuses on gender equity, recognizing its importance in addressing climate challenges.

Melinda co-leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has committed significant resources to combat climate change. In 2022, the foundation pledged $1.4 billion to help smallholder farmers, particularly women farmers, in lower-income countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. She authored the bestselling book “The Moment of Lift,” sharing inspiring stories and her journey as an advocate for gender equality and climate action. With a background in computer science and economics, she spent a decade at Microsoft before dedicating herself to family and philanthropy.

Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group

13. Helen Clarkson: Helen assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer at the Climate Group in March 2017, steering the non-profit organization’s mission to drive rapid climate action. Leading initiatives such as RE100 and EV100, she mobilizes ambitious companies and governments for climate solutions. Clarkson serves on the boards of We Mean Business Coalition and Sustainable Development Capital Energy Efficiency Income Trust, contributing her expertise to climate-related initiatives. Awarded an OBE in 2022, she is recognized for her significant contributions to climate change efforts.

Hannah Jones, Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer

14. Hannah Jones: Former Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Innovation Accelerator at Nike, played a pivotal role in transforming the brand into a global sustainability leader during her over 20-year tenure. After founding Nike Valiant Labs in 2018, she leads the company’s startup incubator. Educated at the European School of Brussels, Jones started at the BBC and later joined CSV Media. Recognized for her leadership, she received the World Economic Forum’s Young Leader Award in 2007. Jones is committed to sustainable solutions, chairing the Sustainable Consumption initiative for the Consumer Industries group at the WEF.

These are just a few of the many women making a significant difference in the fight against climate change. Their diverse backgrounds, skillsets, and approaches all contribute to a more comprehensive strategy for tackling this global challenge. From international diplomacy to on-the-ground initiatives, these women are leading the charge and inspiring others to join the movement for a sustainable future.


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