Climate change presents a historically unique leadership challenge for which there are no ready guidelines. In recognition of this, and to help develop such guidelines, we embarked on a research project with seven climate leaders during the six months leading up to and beyond COP26 in Glasgow (see the participants below).
Our method was for the project leader, Peter Willis, to interview each of the participants online for about a half hour each week, helping them to reflect on their experience of facing up to climate change within their field of responsibility. From time to time he also engaged with two or three of them at once – dialogues that will be made available as podcasts. Key learnings from all these conversations are being distilled for launching in early 2022.
Peter Willis recently interviewed many resilience pioneers as part of a series at COP26 called the Daily COPpuccinos. These aimed to interview thought leaders working in adaptation and resilience from around the world. This was created to complement the COP Resilience Hub event programme that put the focus on adaptation and resilience throughout COP26. Find out more.
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The Daily COPpuccinos
Dame Jo da Silva
Global Sustainable Development Leader, Arup
Jo is the founder and leader of Arup's International Development group which works exclusively with organisations committed to improving human development outcomes. She has been made an Arup Fellow and recently received a Damehood as part of the Queen’s New Year Honours list for her contribution to humanitarian relief.
She is currently the Global Sustainable Development Leader at Arup, having been at Arup for over 25 years. She has been a member of humanitarian relief training organisation RedR since 1991. Her career has included designing buildings and infrastructure that improve the quality of life and working in post-disaster situations helping to relieve suffering and reduce vulnerability. Her reflections on the role of engineers in disaster risk reduction were the subject of the 9th Brunel Lecture (2012): 'Shifting Agendas – from response to resilience.'
Chair, UK Environment Agency
Emma is the Chair of the UK Environment Agency and an ex-officio board member of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
She serves on a number of boards and advisory committees including The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, the Green Finance Institute, the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment, the Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, the Council for Sustainable Business, the European Climate Foundation, and Menhaden PLC. Emma was the UK Commissioner to the Global Commission on Adaptation from 2018 until its sunset in January 2021.
Before becoming the Chair of the Environment Agency in September 2016, she served as a Board member since 2009. Before that, she held various executive roles at Jupiter Asset Management. She was also Chair of UKSIF (the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association), a member of the Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance, and the Green Finance Taskforce.
Chief Strategy Officer, Wood Group Plc
Martyn’s passion is to shape the energy transition to create a low carbon, sustainable future for all. As Chief Strategy Officer, Martyn leads Wood Group Plc’s energy transition mega-trend and corporate strategy team. He has had the privilege of being at the heart of many of the transformational changes that have shaped Wood over the last ten years as they have pivoted towards the energy transition.
Martyn is a scientist by training, completing degrees in Physiology and Type 2 Diabetes at Edinburgh University. In his 7 years at Wood Mackenzie as a Principal Analyst he focused on market intelligence and strategy development within the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industry. He subsequently helped shape the investment portfolio of a biotechnology innovation fund before joining Wood Group Plc in 2011.
Africa Director, WRI
Wanjira is the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at WRI (World Resources Institute). She is the Chair of the Wangari Maathai Foundation and the former Chair of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, the organization her mother, Wangari Maathai (2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) founded in 1977. Wanjira has over 20 years of experience advocating for social and environmental change on both local and
Over the years, she has also served important strategic and advocacy roles raising the prominence and visibility of global issues such as climate change, youth leadership, sustainable energy, and landscape restoration, at Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables (wPOWER), the Wangari Maathai Foundation and the Green Belt Movement. Wanjira currently serves on the Board of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), is a Friend of COP and a Leadership Council member of the Clean Cooking Alliance. Wanjira was named one of the 100 Most Influential African Women in 2018 and 2020.
Dr Debra Roberts
Head of Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit, eThekwini Municipality
Durban, South Africa
Debra is head of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit in eThekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa. Prior to taking up this post in 2016, she established and managed the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of the same municipality for 22 years (1994–2016) is the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Debra was a Lead Author of Chapter 8 (Urban Areas) and a Contributing Author to Chapter 12 (Africa) of the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. In 2015 she was elected as Co-Chair of Working Group II for the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment cycle, which completes in 2022.
Debra was a member of the South African UNFCCC negotiating team until December 2015, and has sat on various international advisory bodies focused on climate change issues in cities. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the School of Life Sciences, and is an advisor to the Global Commission on Adaptation. She has written widely in the fields of urban open space planning, environmental management and urban climate protection, and has received a number of awards for her work.
Rachel Skinner is an Executive Director at WSP UK and President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) during 2020-2021. Rachel is the youngest President in the ICE’s 200-year history and is only the second woman to hold the role. Her President’s theme focus for the year is net zero carbon, given that 70% of global carbon emissions are estimated to be linked to infrastructure. Rachel is also the former President and now Patron of Women in Transport, and previously served as the Infrastructure Commissioner for Scotland.
In 2017 she was named both the ‘Most Distinguished Winner’ and ‘Best Woman Civil Engineer’ at the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards. She has a bachelor’s degree in geography from Durham University and a Masters in Transport Planning & Engineering from Leeds University.
Executive Director at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
Mark has served as Executive Director of C40 Cities since December 2013, during which time the organisation has grown from 63 to 96 of the world's greatest cities, and from 40 to over 200 staff across the globe. From inception, C40’s mission has been to be a high ambition leadership group, driving the world to avoid a climate crisis through the actions and leadership of the mayors of the world’s leading cities. In 2016, C40 became the first major organization to insist that a 1.5-degree target was essential rather than aspirational (through the Deadline 2020 program).Prior to joining C40 Cities, Mark was a Director at Arup, and before that was a senior adviser to the Mayor of London.
Originally from the UK, Peter has spent 27 years in Cape Town teaching, facilitating and advising at executive level on strategic issues of sustainability. For twelve years the Africa Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, he is now a Senior Associate of The Resilience Shift, with whom he is pioneering dialogue-based approaches to developing leadership in the face of existential crises, such as climate change and pandemics. He is also a Fellow of the Institute for Strategic Risk Management.
Project Principal, Resilience Shift
Juliet is the Deputy Executive Director of the Resilience Shift. As an experienced Civil Engineer of over 20 years’ experience working on infrastructure projects both in the UK and overseas, she has an in-depth understanding of infrastructure resilience. Her main interests lie in helping organisations develop bespoke solutions to achieve greater resilience of their infrastructure networks to both known and unknown hazards
Project manager & Co-editor, Resilience Shift
Amy is the Head of Programmes for the Resilience Shift. She focuses on the strategic and policy aspects of sustainable and resilience planning within the built environment. She works collaboratively with clients and partners to deliver innovative, technically robust solutions.
Analyst & Co-editor, Resilience Shift
Jenny has a background in designing and facilitating strategic conversations through corporate innovation “labs”. She is passionate about the intersection of business, design, and social purpose and is currently pursuing a social innovation master’s degree at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. She also specializes in creatively bringing complex ideas, processes, and conversations to life through visual summaries.
Communications Specialist, Resilience Shift
Roman’s expertise is in visual communications, working across multiple channels including brand identity, video and graphic design. He actively works as one of Resilience Shift’s brand champions and has experience and interest in communications for global development and sustainability.