Planet Earth’s Most Potent Optimist: Christiana Figueres

Art By Annabel Driussi for Our Daily Planet

The planet needs an optimistic woman and fortunately for us, we have a really powerful one — Christiana Figueres. After having guided the Paris Climate Accord to completion — she served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010-2016 — now Figueres is trying to change the narrative around achieving a sustainable future. 

She founded the organization Global Optimism, and through a weekly podcast, Outrage + Optimism, and a book, The Future We Choose, she hopes to flip the script on climate change, from a story about our doom to one of opportunity that will result in a more equitable and healthier future.  She is building on decades of experience in the field of global climate change, having been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team 1995- 2009, and having played a number of key roles in the governance of the UNFCCC before formally joining the Secretariat.

Now she talks of “stubborn optimism” and a refusal to accept failure to stem the tide of climate change and biodiversity loss — pushing us to exchange the “reality we are given to the one that we want,”  for our children and grandchildren.  She says, “if we cut our current greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next ten years, we open the door to an exciting world where cities are green, the air is clean, energy and transport are efficient, jobs in a fair economy are abundant, and forests, soil and waters are regenerated. Our world will be safer and healthier, more stable and more just than what we have now.”

To Go Deeper: Watch her Ted Talk on changing our mindset to one of stubborn optimism here.

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