Back by popular demand, The Environment asked last year’s sheroes and women within the extended
CIWEM family which woman working in water, land, climate and sustainability
inspires them most in turn. Meet this year’s sheroes
MockCOP founder Jodie
I would like to nominate Jodie Bailey-Ho for her work with
Mock COP. Jodie, 18, is a leading UK youth climate activist and education
Jodie is a student at Manchester University, Mock COP’s
campaign co-ordinator and co-founder of the Teach the Teacher project. She
volunteers with UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) and climate-education
campaign, Teach the Future and hosts a climate podcast. And she chairs
Climate education is woefully inadequate across the world.
Research in the UK suggests that 70 per cent of teachers feel ill-equipped to
teach children about the climate emergency. Jodie is working to change this.
Teach the Teacher launched in 2021 to highlight gaps in
climate education. It’s a campaign in which students talk their teachers
through climate change and climate justice. That reverse teaching highlights
the gaps in climate education that young people are desperate to fill. The
campaign has spread to more than 20 countries.
Mock COP launched as a virtual online conference, bringing
young people together from across the globe to discuss what we wanted to see
from world leaders at the annual global climate summit.
Jodie says “we are all equals in the climate conversation”.
Teachers, students and everyone else must work together to improve climate
knowledge, education and awareness. Only working together will bring the change
we need to see.
Nominated by Teach
the Future policy lead and climate-justice campaigner Scarlett Westbrook
My shero is Isatou Ceesay, known as the queen of recycling. In
the 1990s, Isatou identified a growing problem with plastic waste in Njau, her
village in northern Gambia. Some of that waste was making its way into the
ecosystem and some was burned for fuel, releasing toxic fumes.
Working with other women, Isatou founded the recycling
centre of Njau to process plastic waste to make plastic yarn, or plarn – and to
use this new fabric to make bags and purses.
Turning plastic into new products solves an environmental
problem and empowers local women to upskill and earn an independent income. The
money has helped women from Njau to pay for medical care and to send their
daughters to secondary school.
The recycling and repurposing scheme was so successful that
Isatou launched Women’s Initiative Gambia. She has now trained more than 11,000
people to understand the dangers of plastics and opportunities to upcycle waste.
Miranda Paul’s children’s book One Plastic Bag tells Isatou’s
story beautifully, sharing important messages about the environment and women’s
Nominated by CIWEM
junior president Emily Shipton
Liz Corbin and Alysia
I admire Liz Corbin and Alysia
Garmulewicz, co-founders and co-chief executives of Materiom, an online platform
that accelerates use of regenerative materials – products that are
biodegradable and that aid nature when they break down.
People have invested 100 years of
research and development in petroleum-based materials. Materiom aims to drive
the same level of research and development into regenerative materials – but within
Using artificial intelligence and
open data, Materiom introduces new materials to the market every few months, not
every few years. We need that pace. We must urgently transition from our
current, linear economic model built on extracting fossil resources, making them
into something, then – often very quickly – throwing it away.
Our take-make-waste economy is
polluting our environment. We need to switch
to a circular economy to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate materials at
their highest value and regenerate nature.
Through Materiom, Liz and Alysia are
advancing that transition. By putting the world’s knowledge of and expertise in
regenerative materials on an open-source, non-profit platform, Materiom is
helping researchers to demonstrate their latest developments to potential
customers and helps businesses to source regenerative materials to suit their particular
Liz and Alysia are speeding up the
switch from petroleum-based materials to alternatives that will regenerate
Nominated by yachtswoman and circular-economy campaigner Ellen MacArthur
I nominate Julie Godefroy, a London-based sustainability
consultant working in the building industry. For many years, Julie has been a
strong advocate of true sustainability in energy and water efficiency in the
built environment, embodied carbon of materials and systems and of occupants’ health
It takes a certain kind of tenacity and dedication to become
a respected female professional in a male-dominated industry like ours. Julie’s
work has informed industry standards and government policies. She is hugely
respected by all her peers.
The building industry is a significant contributor of carbon
emissions that are changing our climate. It will take real commitment to change
industry practices – fundamental to curbing our emissions and limiting future
increases in global temperatures. Julie has worked tirelessly to bringing
industry professionals together to deliver change.
One such initiative is developing Net-Zero Carbon Building
standards, bringing industry together to agree how we achieve the Net Zero
Carbon targets that government has set. Julie initiated – and is leading – the
industry-group response that will influence future government targets and
Julie inspires me with her commitment to and passion for a
more sustainable built environment. She has a wealth of knowledge and
experience; she’s who I turn to for good advice.
Nominated by CIBSE
head of research Anastasia Mylona
Environment Agency national flood and
coastal risk manager, business implementation and skills Rachael Hill
Why Rachael? She is so inspirational; whenever we speak, she
surprises me with what she has done, overcome and achieved in her life. Rachael
puts the C in England’s flood and coastal risk management (FCRM). She collaborates
with professionals across England and organised a coastal practitioners’
conference in February.
The coast is where UK communities feel and see climate
change. That’s emotive. The coastal environment is undervalued but makes such a
positive contribution; it is key to help us adapt to the climate crisis.
When she isn’t promoting coastal adaptation, Rachael supports
projects to reintroduce beavers to the UK and spreads awareness about how
nature’s engineers can help human water professionals to bioengineer the
environment using only their teeth.
And she supports other professionals. This year she has
mentored other women in flood and coastal risk management through the Women in
FCERM mentoring programme. Her mentoring topic is personal presence and she has
supported many women early in their careers, offering coffee-and-connect
Nominated by CIWEM
trustee and Environment Agency national business and stakeholder manager Wendy
Microsoft UK chief
sustainability officer Musidora Jorgensen
I would like to nominate Musidora Jorgensen, Microsoft UK’s chief
sustainability officer, truly an inspiring leader; ambitious for the environment
and for equality and diversity, passionate about supporting more women into the
Musidora is leading Microsoft's sustainability strategy for the
UK. She featured in Sustainability Magazine’s Top 100 Leaders
Through her job, she can drive environmental change across industries.
I am truly fascinated to watch her take Microsoft UK and its clients for a
NetZero passage in the years to come.
account executive Ludmila Fadejeva
My climate shero is Dr Kate Lonsdale, co-champion of the
UKRI climate-resilience research programme since 2019 and who recently joined
Climate Sense as a director.
Kate has worked on climate adaptation as a researcher,
research co-ordinator, trainer, facilitator, consultant, mentor, evaluator and
advisor for more than 25 years, for developed and developing countries. She has
led and managed projects across civil society, academia and government policy
and within organisations that aim to bridge these different sectors.
I first worked with Kate in 2012 on the ClimateJust Project
Advisory Group. Kate immediately struck me as someone with extensive
knowledge, but also integrity and passion for fairness, who sought to recognise
and address climate disadvantage and to ensuring just adaptation and a just
transition to net zero.
Kate cares about how climate change will affect people. She works
to engage more people, more widely and to identify solutions. She has a
warm and generous personality and some quirky personal interests.
Her PhD on at monitoring storm sewer overflows was funded by
Yorkshire Water and published in IWEM journal. She was headhunted to join the
School of Construction at Sheffield Hallam University being a keen caver; the
university had struggled to find someone to spend three years in Sheffield’s
sewers. Even now, Kate’s hobby is leading tours through Sheffield’s culverted
Nominated by IPSOS
head of energy and environment public affairs Rachel Brisley
I nominate IEMA
chief executive Sarah Mukherjee MBE. We met when Sarah was at Water UK. We were
often the only women in rooms full of men, where Sarah would also be the only
person of colour. I took – and still take – inspiration from Sarah’s confident,
approachable style; she’s friendly and likeable and not afraid to be.
She’s also not
afraid of talking passionately about where she comes from and how the world must
change for more people from different backgrounds to be heard. Like Sarah, I
grew up working class. Hearing her talk about this, and about her life
experiences of racism, has informed me and helped me to reconcile my home and
In her day job
she drives important change in the sector through IEMA’s Diverse Sustainability
Initiative and representing the institution at COP. She is also co-chair of
Natural England’s landscape advisory panel.
Sarah was a
phenomenal force in the Independent Landscape Review chaired by Julian Glover. With
women like Sarah at the helm, I have no doubt that we can break open “the club”,
make protected landscapes places for everyone and ensure every child – whatever
their background – can enjoy a night under the stars.
Nominated by campaign for National Parks chief executive Rose O'Neill
Maldives climate envoy Sabra
HE Sabra Noordeen is the Maldives’ first special envoy for climate
change. She was previously secretary for foreign relations in the Maldives president’s
office. Sabra represented the Maldives and the group of Small Island States at COP26
in Glasgow. She is candid about impacts on the communities across the Maldives
who live on the frontlines of climate change.
She champions her islands internationally, reminding us that
the Maldives is really “a large-ocean state”; 99 per cent of it ocean, its 1,200
coral islands lying just 1.5m above sea level.
And on top of rising sea levels, acidification of oceans is destroying the
Maldives’ coral reefs, impacting the environment and the economy.
Sabra works to humanise these issues, helping people
understand the urgency and the impact on individuals. I’ve nominated her my shero
as she also uses her role and voice to look for solutions.
It is sobering to hear Sabra talk about the very real risk
that her home and those of all 450,000 Maldivians will not be here in a
generation. When she compares what her son sees in the ocean to what she grew
up with she says the “baselines of wonder in the ocean are shifting; if we want
to remain in the Maldives, this is the most crucial issue of our times”.
Sabra uses her voice on the global stage to ask for change.
She reminds the COP, and all of us, that it’s difficult to measure success
equally when not all nations feel the same impacts of climate change.
Nominated by CIWEM
hon vice-president Niki Roach
The Power Station co-founder Hilary Powell
Hilary Powell and her partner Dan Edelstyn are London E17’s
Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Over winter the north London artist and filmmaker
staged a bed-in on their roof, sleeping out through snow and ice. “Our photo shows
how, when men fall to bits, women are so much stronger,” Edelstyn jokes.
The stunt raised £100,000 to install solar panels on 20 of their
neighbours’ homes, turning Lynmouth Road, Walthamstow into a community power
station. The Power Station hopes to connect all 150 homes, to cut household energy
bills and carbon footprint and to inspire other communities to act.
It’s a typical Powell/Edelstyn happening – art as critique
of government failure to tackle the energy-cost and climate crises. It takes a negative
and flips it, creating a solution for common good.
Powell is a serial climate and social justice campaigner,
famous for Bank Job, a film about how the financial system fails
people. Austerity, depressed wages, easy credit and pay-day loans leave thousands
mired in debt. The money markets trade personal debt on which people are
struggling to repay interest.
Powell and Edelstyn set up Hoe Street Bank in a derelict Co-op
Bank, printing banknotes with faces of E17 community heroes to sell as artworks.
The money repaid local people’s debts and funded social enterprises. When they
reached their £50,000 target, Powell and Edelstyn stuffed a van with fake bank
notes and blew it up in a controlled explosion in Docklands.
Like Powell, thousands of women are working to help neighbours
and communities through the triple whammy of austerity, inflation and our nature-climate
crisis. This nomination thanks Powell and The Power Station and so many unsung others
who work quietly for the common good.
Nominated by The
Environment editor Karen
Pakistan minister for climate
change Sherry Rehman
The woman who has inspired me most is senator Sherry Rehman,
Pakistan’s minister of climate change. After devastating floods hit a
third of Pakistan last year, Rehman held a panel discussion at COP27 to highlight
the broken bargain between north and south.
Rehman’s solid, convincing arguments about the risks that
come with climate delay kickstarted negotiations between countries to assist
each other to avoid loss and damage. Rehman demanded real action and timelines instead
of yet another round of COP statements with no plans for implementation.
I'm in awe of leaders like Rehman who push for greater
action and accountability from climate action, who demand recognition that
countries like Pakistan are more immediately vulnerable to climate change,
having played little part in causing it.
She is a brilliant advocate and a negotiator with real grit in
seeking climate justice for vulnerable countries. She has given hope to
countries in the Global South in pressing COP to create a ground-breaking fund
to support those suffering the impacts of climate change. We need more leaders
like Rehman to fight for climate justice and demand greater action.
She is an inspiration to women who hope to make a
Nominated by CIWEM
junior president-elect and sustainability consultant Sian Leake
Body Shop founder Anita
Anita died in 2007, but I chose her as an inspiration as she
reminds me why it matters to have a radical role model when you are young. I
was a teenager when I came across The Body Shop and learned, for the first time,
about the environmental and social impacts of things we buy.
Anita championed businesses as a force for good, putting
women and the environment at their heart to create successful global brands.
She and The Body Shop campaigned on environmental issues including Save the
Whale, deforestation and the links between human-rights abuses and
environmental pollution in the Niger Delta.
By promoting environmental and social issues through The Body
Shop, Anita pushed the mainstream media to discuss these topics. It led me to pursue
a career in environment.
Teenagers don't want serious, sensible role models; they
want exciting, radical changemakers who express the passion and anger that they
feel. For me, Anita was that person. Her legacy is twofold. The Body Shop still
campaigns about serious issues and the Anita Roddick Foundation funds hundreds
of projects across the globe in her memory every year.
They include Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the
UK, and Fundo Casa Socioambiental in South America. These two projects may look
very different but they both put the environment and communities at the centre
of their activities. Anita was a radical who has had a long-lasting, positive
impact on the world.
Nominated by CIWEM trustee and Isle Utilities managing director UK
This article is free from The Environment's Women's Takeover issue in March. Read more free articles from the magazine here: https://www.ciwem.org/the-environment/