This Women’s History Month, we wanted honor some of the most inspiring women from all over the world that continue to make strides in the ongoing battle against global warming and climate change. Women’s involvement in decision-making has important implications for climate change. In fact, a recent study of 130 countries found that nations with higher female parliamentary representation are more prone to ratify international environmental treaties, making women’s impact on climate change more important than ever.1
There are thousands of women continuing to tackle climate change through every avenue, from activism to science to architecture and so much more. Four women, in particular, stand out from the crowd in terms of their prominence and impact they can have on the fight against climate change.
Kicking off our list of inspiring women is Christiana Figueres, the internationally recognized world leader best known for her work in collaborative diplomacy on global climate change. From 2010 to 2016, she held the position of Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). During her tenure with the UNFCC, she was eager to lead the process of climate change negotiations to a universally agreed framework.
As she was working towards that goal, she directed several successful UN climate conferences for the parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013 and Lima 2014. At the culmination of her time as Executive Secretary, she directed the historical Paris Agreement of 2015. The Paris Agreements’ main goal was to strengthen the way we respond to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius and substantially reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit the global temperature increase.2
During her tenure, Christiana brought together all types of people for the climate cause, from national governments, communities of faith and think tanks to technology providers, corporations and activists. For all of her achievements, Christiana was credited with constructing a new wave of collaborative diplomacy — an idea with emphasis around trust-building through cooperation on mutual objectives and shared values.3
Miranda Wang, Founder of BioCellection and a pioneer in the chemical recycling of previously ‘unrecyclable’ post-consumer waste plastics. In other words, this company has discovered a way to recycle spent plastics that would have otherwise been rejected by recycling companies and ended up in landfills to create a plastic product that you would never know was recycled. Wang has made earth-shattering strides in reducing our world’s waste and has been featured in Business Insider, CNN, The New York Times, GreenBiz and more.
Oh, and did we mention she is only 25?
Miranda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in cell and molecular biology, philosophy, and engineering entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating and seeing the massive amounts of plastic waste produced year after year, she quickly started thinking of ways to solve the problem. Thus came BioCellection, which started from an invention she pioneered that can break down different kinds of shredded plastic waste in a way that is more sustainable and cheaper than current alternatives.
To kickstart BioCellection, she raised over $5 million from funders such as Elemental Excelerator, Marc Benioff and Schmidt Marine Technology. Since the launch, the company has partnered with stakeholders including the cities of San Jose and San Francisco, GreenWaste Recovery and Recology to scale up her operation 200 times. By scaling up her invention, demonstrates the effectiveness and practicality of her genius technology, which will be modularized in standardized machines that can process 5 metric tons of waste per day.4
Prior to BioCellection, she organized the University of Pennsylvania’s first TEDx conference and founded the nonprofit Good Food Box Program to deliver groceries to students facing food security issues.5
If you have been staying in tune with the latest on international climate change, then you have heard the name Greta Thunberg. As the youngest woman to make our list at just 17 years old, Greta has already earned her stripes in her efforts calling for an urgent change for the earth’s climate. She was named Time’s 2019 Person of the Year, and clearly she has with no plans to stop her pursuit towards change.6
In 2018, Greta (who was in the eighth grade at the time) launched “Fridays for Future,” otherwise known as School Strike for Climate, encouraging students to skip school and demand action on climate change from their governments all around the world — and she still spends every Friday on strike. In November 2018, Thunberg planned a two-week strike outside of the Swedish parliament, in which she demanded that her government cut emissions by 15% that year.7
In September 2019, she led the charge on a 4-million-person global climate strike, the biggest walkout in history.8 The walkout was ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where she gave a teary-eyed, fiery speech to the world leaders of the UN. Her passion for climate change has been burning since she was just 8 years old.
Changhua Wu, the China/Asia Director of the Office of Jeremy Rifkin and dedicated advisor to governments and corporations on sustainability strategy and innovation, has made waves in governmental policies toward sustainability.9
Amongst her many accomplishments, Wu is the Greater China Director of The Climate Group. As an expert on China for nearly 20 years and an environment and development policy analyst, she leads the organization’s strategic development in the region and manages its Greater China operations — working towards a global revolution.10 Changhua founded Teconet, a start-up platform that focuses on systemic change — policy, technology, finance and market.
As women continue to pour their heart and soul into efforts toward combatting climate change and advancing sustainability efforts, take a moment to recognize a few amazing women this month in celebration of Women’s History Month — and every other month as well.