Meet Female Scientists leading the World Economic Forum this week

Jayde Lovell
Jan 19 · 3 min read

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg recently advised the US Congress to “listen to the scientists”.

But when world leaders from the planet’s biggest economies — including US President Donald Trump — come together this week to discuss the future of our planet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, just which scientists will they be listening to?

After all, many of the issues on the agenda at the World Economic Forum are scientifically complex — including climate change, biodiversity loss, and infectious disease outbreaks — and emerging solutions will be built upon decades of rigorous scientific research.

For the first time, a majority of the featured scientists will be women — a statement in and of itself. Here’s just three of the incredible scientists that will be leading the conversation in Davos, Switzerland this week:

1. Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall with climate activist Greta Thunberg
Dr. Jane Goodall with climate activist Greta Thunberg
Dr. Jane Goodall (right) with Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

The celebrated primatologist will speak on her decades of experience working with great apes — humanity’s closest relatives — in the last surviving forests on earth . A particular focus in 2020 will be the future of the Amazon Rainforest, where the rate of deforestation has almost doubled since the election of Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro. Scientists like Dr. Goodall have warned that human activity may soon bring the Amazon jungle to an ecological “tipping point”, destroying the last remaining habitat of dozens of primates.

Dr. Goodall will discuss ways to secure a sustainable future for the Amazon, alongside world leaders such as US former Presidential Candidate Al Gore, and Columbian President Ivan Duque.

2. Dr. Gretchen Daily

Founder of the Natural Capital Project, the renowned environmental scientist will be combining big business with environmentalism, and making the business case for safeguarding nature. Dr. Daily’s pioneering research at Stanford University has enabled policy makers to ‘put a price tag on nature’, by measuring the services nature provides — including water filtration and plant pollination — and building a price for these services into economic policy.

3. Dr. Gail Whiteman

Director of the Pentland Center for Sustainability in Business, Dr Whiteman’s work looks at how people and companies respond to ecological change, and how to build resilience under increasing environmental pressures.
Until recently, most ecological challenges were localized — such as oil spills, nuclear fallout, and chemical leaks. As such, polluters could distance themselves from their damage by simply relocating to a new area. A focus of Dr. Whiteman’s work is how corporations can adapt to complex ecological problems that cannot be ‘fenced out’ — including climate change and biodiversity loss.

You can follow the discussions from the World Economic Forum on Twitter using the hashtag #WEF2020.

Jayde Lovell

Written by

Writer, innovator, science communicator. Host of ScIQ on The Young Turks Network and Founder of

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