The Women Steering the Science for a Sustainable Future

February 2024, by Ettie Etela

As we observe the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, our focus extends to applauding the inspirational women leading the charge in sustainability. These pioneers are redefining the intersection of science and environmental stewardship, forging a future where their contributions shape our approach to the planet’s most pressing challenges. Despite representing less than a third of the world’s researchers, according to Unesco, these women’s achievements in sustainability signal a powerful shift towards a balanced and inclusive scientific community.

As we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science at MM-Eye, we want to highlight not just the women excelling in scientific fields but also those who are spearheading efforts in sustainability and climate science. These trailblazers are at the forefront, using science as a tool for environmental advocacy and policy. Their work is so important in the fight against climate change, proving that the role of women in science stretches far beyond the laboratory and into the fabric of global sustainability efforts. Let’s honour these influential women who are not only doing science but are staunch supporters and leaders in climate and sustainability science.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados is a formidable advocate for climate justice and sustainable development. Her leadership is marked by proactive steps to address climate change, notably through her Bridgetown Initiative, which seeks to reshape the financial landscape in favour of vulnerable nations facing climate adversities. Mottley’s stance on climate issues is bold and action-oriented, pushing for innovative economic reforms that align closely with environmental resilience. By advocating for “loss and damage” funding at international platforms, she has become a leading voice for small island states, demanding equity in global climate responses. Her advocacy emphasises the need to rethink financial systems to better serve climate-impacted regions.

In the UK Helen Clarkson, the CEO of The Climate Group, is a force for environmental change in the business world. The Climate Group collaborates with powerful networks of businesses and governments around the globe to promote clean technologies and policies, striving for a world of net-zero carbon emissions. Under Clarkson’s leadership, the group has launched impactful campaigns like RE100, committing influential companies to 100% renewable energy, and EP100, driving corporate energy productivity. Helen Clarkson’s leadership galvanises corporate leaders to integrate sustainability into their core operations, fostering a market environment where green business practices are the norm.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian-American economist, pioneered a new path of remarkable achievements in both social and environmental sustainability, culminating in her role as the first woman and first African Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Her influence extends into numerous international, nongovernmental, and charitable organisations, reflecting her deep commitment to global economic sustainability. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s work is centred around advocating for economic strategies that incorporate environmental health. She has contributed to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and the International Commission on Financing Global Education. Her efforts exemplify the integration of sustainability into global trade, finance, and policy, making her an influential figure in the pursuit of a resilient and sustainable future.

The world of fast-moving consumer goods has seen leaders like Beatriz Perez set a precedent. As The Coca-Cola Company’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, Perez has been instrumental in driving forward programs for environmental and women’s economic empowerment, according to Sustainability Magazine​​. Her work is a testament to the power of female leadership in fostering sustainable corporate practices.

Jennifer Morgan, in her pivotal role as Germany’s Climate Secretary, has been a key player in the complex negotiations surrounding climate change policy. Formerly the head of Greenpeace International, Morgan transitioned to government work, which placed her at the heart of the COP27 climate conference, charged with navigating the contentious issue of climate reparations, known as “loss and damage”​​. This crucial role had her mediating between almost 200 countries, striving to reconcile the diverse and often conflicting interests of wealthy nations and those most vulnerable to climate change.

At MM-Eye, we recognise that the future of consumer research and stakeholder engagement is intertwined with the insights and contributions of women. Their perspectives are essential in understanding the complex tapestry of consumer behaviour, particularly through the lens of sustainability. Integrating these insights into our Say Do Sustainability Tracker (SDSS) ensures that businesses can make decisions that are not only environmentally sound but also resonate deeply with their audience.

Our approach at MM-Eye is to prioritise inclusivity and depth in our research methodologies. By doing so, we capture the nuances of stakeholder voices, ensuring that every insight contributes to a holistic understanding of market trends and consumer priorities. This inclusive research is crucial for businesses looking to navigate the intricacies of sustainability in a way that’s both responsible and resonant with today’s conscientious consumers.