New Speaker Christiana Figueres – Climate Change Trail Blazer

During her tenure, Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, women’s groups, scientists and spiritual communities, financial institutions and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Under this Agreement, 195 sovereign governments decided on a collaborative path to limit future global warming to well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°C in order to protect the most vulnerable in every nation.

For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy, for which she has received multiple awards.

Since then Ms. Figueres has continued to foster rapid action on climate change, She is the co-author of The Future We Choose, The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis and co-host of the podcast Outrage and Optimism.  She also sits on the Board of ACCIONA and ACCIONA Energía.

Figueres assumed responsibility for the international climate change negotiations after the failed Copenhagen conference of 2009, she was determined to lead the process to a universally agreed regulatory framework. Building toward that goal, she directed the successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014, and culminated her efforts in the historical Paris Agreement of 2015.

She is Founding Partner of Global Optimism and the convener of Mission 2020, a global initiative that seeks to ensure the world bends the curve on greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in order to protect the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of climate change and usher in an era of stability and prosperity.

She has a long trajectory 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.

She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the London School of Economics and has been awarded multiple honorary doctorate degrees from academic institutions such as Yale, University of Massachusetts, Georgetown and University of Edinburgh.  She recently returned to Costa Rica after decades of living abroad.


In The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac—who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015—have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity.

The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a regenerative world that has net-zero emissions. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism. The Future We Choose presents our options and tells us what governments, corporations, and each of us can, and must, do to fend off disaster.