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, B Team leader, WRI board member, member of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, leadership council member for The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Mission 2020 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 UN’s record. 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, she founded the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA), which she directed for eight years.
I am grateful to join my sisters and brothers at the upcoming Spirit of Humanity Forum, as we gather to re discover who we are as human beings and as stewards of this Earth.
Over the past few months the world’s leading climate change and biodiversity scientists have published the most definitive assessments of the current state of our natural systems and projections of these into the future. These assessments of the destruction we have caused over the past 50 years can easily lead us to anger, grief or powerlessness. None of those sentiments are surprising, but equally none of them hold the potential to lead us to safer grounds.
There is no doubt that humanity is now in a state of emergency, and at moments like these we must rise. We must dig into our deepest sense of responsibility and stretch out to our highest sense of purpose. This is no moment to stand still or to ignore. This is a moment for growth.
We must awaken to the reality of interconnectedness. As human beings we are all interconnected with each other, whether we have met personally or not. As sentient beings we are all interconnected with the rest of life on this planet, whether that life talks and moves or not. As divine beings we are all interconnected with the ultimate powers of creation and evolution, whether we understand them or not. Far from tying us down, the realization of interconnectedness is what frees us to live our life at its fullest in deep appreciation of the smallest and largest of miracles.
We must awaken to the power of compassion. Compassion for ourselves as children who are still learning how to live. Compassion for others who are beset by shadows of the past holding them in the dark. Compassion for nature, which has persevered with such patience and generosity. It is in compassion that we find the love to forgive and the wisdom to build a better tomorrow.
We must awaken to the profound connection between the state of the world and the state of human consciousness. The natural world is in urgent need of regeneration in order to recover from the damage we have done. In equal manner we are in dire need of regenerating our spiritual awareness in order to rekindle our profound capacity for good. It is time to stand tall in full recognition of our true selves.