NCSE Drawdown 2021 Keynote and Plenary Speakers

NCSE Drawdown 2021 Conference


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Inger Andersen

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

Inger Andersen headshot

Inger Andersen is Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Between 2015 and 2019, Andersen was the Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Andersen has more than 30 years of experience in international development economics, environmental sustainability, strategy, and operations. She has led work on a range of issues including agriculture, environmental management, biodiversity conservation, climate change, infrastructure, energy, transport, and water resources management and hydro-diplomacy. 

Between 1999 and 2014, Andersen held several leadership positions  at the World Bank including Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa; Vice President for Sustainable Development and Head of the CGIAR Fund Council. Prior to her 15 years at the World Bank, Andersen worked 12 years at the United Nations, first on drought and desertification, beginning with the UN Sudano-Sahelian Office. In 1992, she was appointed UNDP’s Water and Environment Coordinator for the Arab Region.
Andersen holds a bachelor’s degree from the London Metropolitan University North and a master’s degree in Development Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.


Christiana Figueres

Founding Partner, Global Optimism; Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 

Headshot of Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and an internationally recognized leader on climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016. During her tenure at the UNFCCC, Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations, activists, financial institutions, and NGOs 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 well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°C, in order to protect the most vulnerable. For this achievement, Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy and received multiple awards. Since then, Figueres has continued to accelerate the global response to climate change. Today she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism,” and is the co-author of the recently published book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.”


Chad Frischmann

Research Director, Project Drawdown

Chad Frischmann

A coalition-builder and systems strategist, Chad Frischmann works to reverse global warming and build a new, regenerative future with cascading benefits to the environment and to human well-being. Frischmann is the lead researcher and principal architect of the methodology and models behind Project Drawdown. In collaboration with leading environmentalist Paul Hawken and a global team of researchers and thought leaders, Frischmann designed sophisticated models to assess the world’s most effective climate solutions and determine if, when, and how the world can reach “drawdown,” the point in time when the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases begins to decline on a year-to-year basis. As head of research since Project Drawdown’s inception, Frischmann is a key spokesperson and coalition-builder dedicated to sharing the message and model of Drawdown with the world. With a multidisciplinary background in public policy, human rights, sustainable development, and environmental conservation, Frischmann provides a systems-based approach to research and strategic leadership. Previously, Chad was the Senior Program Officer at The Europaeum, an association of leading European universities; taught at the University of Oxford and the University of California at Berkeley; and worked as a consultant and researcher for numerous organizations, from small grassroots nonprofits to UN agencies such as UNESCO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.


Valerie Luzadis

Chair, NCSE Board of Directors; Professor, The State University of New York, ESF

Valerie Luzadis headshot

Dr. Valerie Luzadis is Professor of Social-Ecological Systems and Ecological Economics at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), a public, doctoral granting institution in upstate NY. Luzadis has also served as Interim Provost and as the first Executive Vice President of ESF and held several other leadership roles in the institution. Her teaching and research focus on systems approaches to social-ecological foundations for conservation and sustainability. Luzadis’ scholarly work also includes the study and practice of collaborative interdisciplinary science and efforts to bring science into policy. Luzadis brings system thinking to administrative and professional leadership roles to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of institutions through matrixed systems of shared effort, power, and respect for all. Luzadis served on the Executive Committee of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, now the NCSE Leaders’ Alliance. She is a Past President of the United States Society for Ecological Economics, having also served as leader of the Founding Organizational Committee for the United States Society for Ecological Economics. Luzadis also served in National and State level leadership positions in the Society of American Foresters (SAF). In addition, Dr. Luzadis has consulted with groups such as The Nature Conservancy and The Wildlife Conservation Society to advise and facilitate community-based conservation efforts.


Warren Washington

Distinguished Scholar, National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Photo of Warren Washington

Dr. Warren Washington became one of the first developers of groundbreaking atmospheric computer models in the 1960s. These models, which use fundamental laws of physics to predict future states of the atmosphere, have helped scientists understand climate change and were used extensively in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment, for which National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientists, including Washington, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Washington has engaged in research for over 50 years, and has given advice, testimony, and lectures on global climate change. Washington has been a member of the President's National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere and has had presidential appointments under the Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush administrations. More recently, he served on the National Science Board as a member (1994-2006) and as its chair (2002-2006). Washington has many awards, including being a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Meteorological Society (former president), the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama, the nation's highest science award "for his development and use of global climate models to understand climate and explain the role of human activities and natural processes in the Earth's climate system and for his work to support a diverse science and engineering workforce."



Michelle Wyman

Executive Director, National Council for Science and the Environment

Michelle Wyman

Michelle Wyman serves as the executive director of the National Council for Science and the Environment, an international nonprofit that spans the boundaries between science, decision-making, and the environment. She has worked on clean energy, climate, and environmental policy with all levels of government for over two decades, developing strategic and tactical solutions to implement energy, climate, and sustainability strategies and solutions. Before joining NCSE, she served as the director of intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy. She led the Governors’ Accord for a Clean Energy Future, Applied Solutions-Local Governments Building a Clean Economy, and ICLEI USA, nonprofits that engage directly with state and local governments. Earlier in her career, she helped design and launch a public sector law practice at a major international law firm focused on proactive environmental management, worked as the natural resources director for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, and recycling coordinator for the City of Euless, Texas, and as a park ranger with the National Park Service. She serves in a variety of advisory roles with domestic and international organizations to increase the recognition of and reliance on science in service to the environment and society.