Next in our World Earth Day series, we introduce Impact League judge, Rachel Kyte - Professor of Practice in Climate Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford - a true trailblazer in focusing on affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy as the key to combating both poverty and climate change.

Not only the first woman to lead the oldest graduate-only school of international affairs in the United States, Rachel is also former Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.

Here, she talks to us about her passions for environmental advocacy and stresses the importance of the active individual in effecting societal change:

Season 4 // Impact League Guest Judge Rachel Kyte

“I grew up in Europe in the 1980s with Soviet and American nuclear arsenals pointed at each other over our heads and walls and iron curtains dividing us. But our environment was one. Emissions on one side of a border would fall on the other as acid rain or polluted rivers. Our environment had to unite us – no matter the tensions, we must all work together to be sustained by our planet. Fast forward to a world with growing conflict, with climate impacts deepening by the day, and that truth holds – we need to rediscover our solidarity with each other to steward the planet. Or in connecting with nature, we can find a pathway back to solidarity with each other.

I have learned so much from women from every region of the world and every background. Understanding how things seem from the perspective of a Pacific islander facing the loss of her culture in the following decades, a solar entrepreneur from Sierra Leone, connecting households and businesses to distributed energy, despite the high cost of capital and a shortage of investment, or the women working to put women at the heart of resilience as their resilience determines the strength of their communities and countries. I want to continue to put my work in service of their wisdom and strength.

As I write this, it is 46 degrees celsius across large parts of India. School systems in the Philippines and Sudan have shut down because it's too hot for kids to be in school. Climate impacts are happening here and now. There is a time cost of capital. We urgently need to stop emissions and support resilience. We must remove emissions from the atmosphere as we shoot past our targets. We will need to rewire our financial system and change what we value and how we value it.

As individuals, we need to make polluters pay, we need to be less wasteful (with food and energy in particular), and we need to be active citizens and vote – up and down the ballot for people with the grit to make decisions today that are good for today and tomorrow.

Be kind. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Look up when you walk.”