In order to highlight the importance of women’s leadership in climate action, and to promote the success of the Summit, President Heine of the Marshall Islands appointed a special voluntary group of all-women ‘Summit Champions’ co-chaired by Ms. Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Ms. Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All. The aim of the Champions group is to actively communicate on the Summit, to champion the role of women in addressing climate change, and to encourage the CVF Virtual Summit’s different member and observer state leaders to fully engage with the initiative, complementing the official outreach of the Marshall Islands government and other Summit partners.
Global Optimism and Convenor of Mission 2020
Christiana Figueres is a world authority on global climate change and was the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC from 2010-2016.
Ms. Figueres is founding partner of Global Optimism and currently Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, ClimateWorks Board Member, World Bank Climate Leader, Senior Fellow for Conservation International, ACCIONA Board Member, The B Team Leader, WRI Board Member, Economic Council member for the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, Leadership Council Member for The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Mission2020 Convenor.
During her tenure at the UNFCCC Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to below 2C. The agreement entered into force in less than a year, breaking the record of the UN. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.
In addition to her remarkable diplomatic achievements over the past 20 years, she served as Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) and in 1995 founded the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA), which she directed for eight years.
Sustainable Energy for All
Rachel Kyte is CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary- General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was formerly the World Bank Group VP and Special Envoy for Climate Change, VP for Sustainable Development, as well as a member of IFC’s management team.
Former Administrator of UNDP
Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand for three successive terms from 1999–2008. She was the first woman to be elected as Prime Minister in New Zealand.
Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, and as a Member of Parliament over 27 years, Helen Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social, environmental, and cultural spheres. She advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive program on sustainability and for tackling the problems of climate change. She was an active leader of her country’s foreign relations, engaging in a wide range of international issues.
In April 2009, Helen Clark became Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. She was the first woman to lead the organisation, and served two terms there. At the same time, she was Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of all UN funds, programs, agencies, and departments working on development issues. As Administrator, she led UNDP to be ranked the most transparent global development organisation. She completed her tenure in 2017.
Helen Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland, from which she earlier graduated with her BA and MA (Hons) degrees.
Helen continues to be a strong voice for sustainable development, climate action, gender equality and women’s leadership, peace and justice, and action on non-communicable diseases and on HIV.
This Summit is a call to action for the world's leaders to step up and prove that they've heard the voices of the world's vulnerable and that they too will act with the responsibility and urgency demanded of them. It puts the biggest polluters to shame that the countries who will be hit hardest by climate change are also the ones leading the fight against global warming. Other countries need to wake up and act because our collective fate will be sealed by the actions taken today.
Jennifer Morgan, together with Bunny McDiarmid, became Executive Director of Greenpeace International as of 4 April 2016. She was the former Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, Global Climate Change Director at Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G), and led the Global Climate Change Program of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University in Political Science and Germanic Studies, and a Master of Arts from the School of International Service at The American University in International Affairs. Jennifer is a member of Germany’s Council for Sustainable Development.
Jennifer is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands!
Vice President Sustainable Development
No civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems. Nor will ours.Lester Brown
Laura Tuck became the World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development in July 2015. Her practices cover Agriculture; Climate Change; Environment and Natural Resources; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience; and Water, and she is responsible for lending, technical assistance, sector policy and dialogue, and analytics in these areas.
Before taking this position, Ms. Tuck was the Vice President for the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region.
Prior to that she was Director for Sustainable Development in ECA (2002-2006) and in Latin America (2006-2011) and then Director of Strategy and Operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MNA), followed the same position in ECA.
Ms. Tuck joined the World Bank in 1987 as a Young Professional, and worked as an Economist in MNA and then ECA, and as Sector Manager for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Before the World Bank, Ms. Tuck worked for several consulting firms in agricultural and food policy, and on the faculty of Princeton University as part of a university research project. She worked and lived in Africa between 1980 and 1987.
Ms. Tuck has an MPA from Princeton University in Economics and Public Policy and a BA from the University of California at Davis in Economics.
European Climate Foundation
Laurence Tubiana is CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF). In addition to her role at ECF, she is the Chair of the Board of Governors at the French Development Agency (AFD), and a Professor at Sciences Po, Paris. Before joining ECF, Laurence was France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21, and as such a key architect of the landmark Paris Agreement. Following COP21, she was appointed High Level Champion for climate action.
Laurence founded in 2002 and directed until 2014 the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). She has held academic positions including Sciences Po and as Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University. She has been a member of numerous boards and scientific committees, including the Chinese Committee on the Environment and International Development (CCICED).
Senator Loren Legarda
Republic of the Philippines
Senator Loren Legarda is a Commissioner of the newly convened Global Commission on Adaptation, which aims to forge a bold strategic vision for adaptation. She is the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Global Champion for Resilience and the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) National Adaptation Plan Champion. She has been recognized as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum and a UNEP Laureate. She is now on her third term as Senator. She currently chairs the Philippine Senate Committees on Climate Change, Foreign Relations, and Finance. She is chiefly responsible for the passage of several landmark laws on environment, namely, the Clean Air Act; Clean Water Act; Ecological Solid Waste Management Act; Renewable Energy Act; Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Act; Climate Change Act; and the People’s Survival Fund Law. She also sponsored the Philippines’ accession to the landmark Paris Agreement.
Former President of Ireland (1990 - 1997)
It is unacceptable for the poorest, most vulnerable people on the planet to suffer the most from climate change when they have done the least to cause it.
Mary Robinson was the first woman President of Ireland (1990–1997) and is a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997–2002).
A tireless advocate for justice, she was President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002 to 2010. Mary Robinson served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa from 2013-2014, stepping down in July 2014 to take up the post of Special Envoy for Climate Change.
She continued in this post until the end of December 2015 which saw the successful conclusion of the COP21 Climate Summit and the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In 2016, Mary Robinson served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. She is Chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
Global Environment Facility
It is the poorest and most vulnerable countries that are hit the hardest from climate change. At this critical time, we all need to raise our climate ambition and the GEF is committed to transformational change. We all share one planet in common, and in its new four-year investment strategy the GEF puts a strong emphasis on financing for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. The CVF Leaders’ Summit is an important opportunity to accelerate action towards a low carbon future.
Naoko Ishii, elected as CEO and Chair of the Global Environment Facility in 2012, has led the development and implementation of the GEF’s first-ever long-term strategy. It positioned the GEF to address the underlying drivers of environmental degradation and to catalyze systems transformation in energy, cities and food systems while protecting critical ecosystems.
She successfully concluded two international replenishment negotiations, both of which mobilized more than 4 billion US dollars for the GEF. Before Joining the GEF, Naoko was Japan Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, and represented the Japanese Government during the design of the Green Climate Fund. She worked as a Country Director for the World Bank and has held positions at the IMF and Harvard Institute for International Development. Naoko holds a B.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo.
The countries least responsible for causing climate change are taking matters into their own hands. They are showing the rest of the world the way to fight climate change. This is the true spirit of the Paris Agreement, and the kind of leadership that people on the front lines of extreme weather demand.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director at Oxfam International, is a world-renowned women’s rights leader, human rights defender and a global authority on the gender dimensions of climate change.
At Oxfam she leads a confederation of 20 civil society organizations working in more than 90 countries worldwide empowering people to create a future that is secure, just, and free from poverty. Ms. Byanyima has participated in the annual UN climate conferences since 2007 and is a member of The Troika+ of Women Leaders on Gender and Climate Change. Prior to Oxfam, Ms. Byanyima was the director of gender and development at the UN Development Programme, where she co-founded the 60-member Global Gender and Climate Alliance and chaired a UN task force on gender and climate change. A Ugandan national, Ms. Byanyima was elected for three terms and served eleven years in the Ugandan Parliament. She currently chairs the World Economic Forum’s Regional Strategy Group for Africa.