ISC3 Initiative on Gender & Sustainable Chemistry

ISC3 Initiative on Gender & Sustainable Chemistry

Interview series about Gender in Sustainable Chemistry

The ISC3 initiative provides insight via regular interview series with women in the field of Sustainable Chemistry. In the series of articles below, the ISC3 presents women active in Sustainable Chemistry from various fields such as politics, innovation, NGOs, research and education and describes their achievements, experience and perspectives. 

Interview with Anna Turns, freelancer, author, and educator.

Anna Turns studied biological sciences at Oxford University (UK) whereas throughout her career she first focused on wildlife television and documentaries and later worked as a freelancer in journalism. Turning her passion into a job, Anna Turns published in 2022 her first book on “Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution”. In the book she touches critically upon a range of topics such a sustainability, climate change, food and farming and debunks a lot of myths. In addition to writing Anna teaches at Plymouth Marjon University (UK) aspiring journalist students how environmental issues will affect their work in the future. Anna argues that sustainability needs to be much more embedded into education at all levels and that making women in STEM more visible to young scientists is crucial.

“Equality is so intertwined with sustainability. For a greener, fairer future, we need to encourage diversity in all its forms”

Anna specialises in writing about sustainability, from climate change and renewable energy to marine issues, food and farming. She teaches journalism students at Plymouth Marjon University and helps them to build their portfolios, find their niche and develop their content creation skills on paper, on screen and on radio. Her first book, Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution was published in January 2022.

You’re a journalist focusing on sustainability topics and just wrote a book on the very subject – what sparked your interest in sustainability and what’s your educational background?

From a young age, I have always loved spending time outdoors in nature. I grew up in the countryside in England and I think time spent in the garden or on walks really informed my love of the environment and my sense of needing to protect it in some way. I was always very curious – my parents joke that I asked a lot of ‘why’ questions and I loved finding out how the world around me worked. At A-level I chose to study Maths, Chemistry, German and my favourite subject, Biology. Then I continued my studies in biological sciences at Oxford University for three years which I thoroughly enjoyed. I considered doing a PhD but decided I wanted to know about lots of different things rather than be an expert in one subject area. I also loved sharing my passion and dreamt of working in wildlife television. So I worked as a TV researcher in documentaries and eventually on BBC natural history programmes such as Springwatch and Autumnwatch. After working in TV for a decade or so, I pursued writing more and worked in magazine journalism for a few years, then went freelance ten years ago. It was then I made a conscious decision to bring my biology back into my work more and write about sustainability, something that wasn’t being done enough at the time.

Why did you choose “chemical pollution” as the topic of your book and what are your views on sustainable chemistry?

A few years ago, I ran a plastic pollution campaign with my daughter called Plastic Clever Salcombe – it was all about engaging our local coastal community in ditching single-use plastics. But a couple of years ago it struck me that while plastic is so visible and tangible, there’s so much pollution that we don’t see or talk about. I wanted to find a way to make chemical pollution more relevant and engaging to a mainstream audience, so I have written Go Toxic Free…I found my research into this subject so fascinating and also far from depressing. There are so many solutions already being developed – we just need to make them the norm. I felt really inspired talking to sustainable chemists at ISC3 and around the globe, working to find ways to avoid chemical pollution and sometimes even have a regenerative impact on the environment. It’s definitely a mindset shift though – thinking about how we extract ingredients, create formulas that biodegrade, design out waste etc rather than that make, take, dispose model of consumption which is so destructive.

What’s the feedback on your book so far?

Brilliant thank you – I have had some great feedback about the book and the most exciting thing for me is hearing that people feel empowered to make really positive changes in their own lives and daily routines – quite a lot of people keep telling me they’ve ditched all bleach products for example, and it’s making people think about the impacts items they buy have elsewhere in the supply chain. Joining those dots is such a crucial step for all of us. I also think there is so much greenwash in the world and so many people misunderstand what chemistry really is. ‘Chemical-free’ claims on product labels for example, are just one sign that so many people think all chemicals are bad. So I have tried to debunk a lot of myths in the book and explain how to avoid the greenwash and ask for proof of claims. Hopefully that’s starting to have an impact and reframing possibilities so people know to look out for or ask for more sustainable alternatives.

Was it always easy to write about sustainability or did you find that placing the topic was difficult sometimes? Especially as a woman writing about chemical pollution etc, how easy was your research?

Research for the book specifically was global. I spoke to a hundred or so experts all around the world, as far flung as Japan, US, Peru and Scandinavia. I found that I had to do a lot of translation in terms of making sense of the complex science and explaining that to a mainstream audience without dumbing down. The way I did this was focus on the solutions rather than just the problems. I highlighted the progress and innovations, interviewed so many amazing scientists and changemakers to make it feel more constructive – it’s not all doom and gloom. In terms of my research, I don’t think being a woman made it particularly difficult, but I did make a conscious effort to include diverse voices in the book. I also made sure I referred to synthetic chemicals rather than manmade ones!

You also teach journalism at university, what do you think about the upcoming generations and their views towards sustainability and sustainable chemistry?

I strongly believe that sustainability needs to be much more embedded into education at all levels, from primary right through to university level. As journalists and communicators, sustainability will affect stories in all genres, from politics to fashion, economics to human rights. A lot of the students I teach at Plymouth Marjon University are sports journalist undergrads and I’m teaching them about how environmental issues will affect their work in the future – even at the Beijing winter Olympics currently, we see how snowfall is becoming less predictable. I am also talking to all of the students a lot more about solutions journalism – focusing on those constructive stories, still with a critical eye and rigorous reporting. I think sustainable chemistry falls into this category and as journalists, it’s about finding the really fascinating stories people can relate to that then illustrate wider themes of this field.

How can you envision the future of sustainable chemistry and the gender topic?

Equality is so intertwined with sustainability. For a greener, fairer future, we need to encourage diversity in all its forms. I also believe that having a balanced mix of genders throughout the industry will make it more creative and accessible to all. People can only aspire to be what they can see, so making women in STEM more visible to young scientists is really crucial. The sisters who run Le Qara are a wonderful illustration of this – young, enthusiastic, dynamic, pro-active and with a vision for a more sustainable future – this is what we need more of in the chemistry sector.
Smiling Woman at Beach

Interview with Sascha Gabizon, director of "Women Engage for a Common Future"

Sascha Gabizon is the international executive director of Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) and had been active within policy negotiation processes on UN level since the 1990s (including Women’s Major Group). Back in the day she was among the first movers that shed the light on the fact that very few women were taking part in contributing to important, multilateral environmental agreements. Sascha Gabizon is an expert in gender dimensions within international chemicals management and brings decades of deep, first-hand insights and international experiences to the interview table.

"It’s generally a problem of course in gender studies that women’s roles are invisible."

Ms. Sascha Gabizon is the international executive director of Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) and long-time Co-Facilitator of the Women's Major Group on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The organization first started in the Netherlands, followed by offices in Germany, France, Georgia and consist of a network of about
150 partners in 50 countries. Ms Gabizon joined the WECF in 1994 to prepare the contribution to the 4th World Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995.
On the international level, the WECF is an active stakeholder within SAICM and the intersessional process towards a more sound chemicals management in the future (“SAICM Beyond 2020”). On the EU-level, the WECF also contributes to decision-making processes and raises awareness on gender aspects in policy areas such as international chemicals management, environment and climate or water sanitation.
Thereby, the WECF focuses on showcasing women-led solutions for a circular economy, in areas such as recycling or health and safety.
The WECF collaborates with the secretariat of the UN Chemicals Conventions (Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm Conventions) who have established a capacity building programme for member states that involves training on gender and chemicals. Specifically, the work includes scoping studies that analyse concrete examples of the gender dimensions of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, Nigeria and Indonesia, as well as the identification of gender-responsive practices and alternatives. Additionally, the WECF accompanies the current discussions on UN level for a legally binding global treaty on plastic pollution, which will be addressed at the UNEA 5.2. Ms. Gabizon has as well been a member on the ISC3 advisory board since its launch.

Ms Gabizon, could you elaborate on what was the notching point for you to get involved in an association such as the WECF? Where did that idea originally come from?

In the early 1990s many global conventions were crafted, such as the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and later the chemicals conventions emerged from processes of the UN Environment Programme. Already two decades before (in 1972) the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) had been founded, which is now almost 50 years ago and the year 2022 will mark UNEP’s 50th anniversary. At that time (in 1990) we noticed that there were very few women who were taking part in contributing to these important, multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
In 1992, at the “Rio Earth Summit”, women leaders called out the lack of women participation and representation within the crafting process of the MEAs. Through strong advocacy work by these leaders the lack of representation became more visible. Strong women leaders acted as “bellringers” and came from countries such Brazil, Kenya, and the USA. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” (1962) was as well a wake up call, documenting the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Ms. Carson did that by observing the health of her chickens and birds. She found out that the DDT insecticide was having negative reproductive health effects on the animals and then also on people.

What was the outcome of the advocacy activities?

Eventually, at the Rio 1992 Earth summit, the governments agreed to the establishment of the Women’s Major Group (WMG) and recognized women as one of the nine important groups in society, that are needed to be engaged in achieving sustainable development. The WMG is an official participant in the United Nations processes on Sustainable Development and its role is to facilitate women’s active participation within civil society, information sharing and input into the policy space provided by the United Nations (e.g. participation, speaking, submission of proposals, access to documents, development of sessions).

How would you say can including perspectives of a specific group or category (e.g. gender, religion, ethnicity, disability) add value to such global agreements?

Groups in society that have less decision-making power are less visible, their needs and demands are often not well reflected in policies and laws. This includes people with disabilities, migrants, youth and also women, as there is not one country in the world that has achieved gender-equality. When analysing effects of chemicals from a gender perspective it is important to understand the differences between women and men in society, not only the biological differences and how these are differently impacted by chemicals. In my example, women would more often - due to societal roles - work in care jobs, such as childcare or healthcare. Women in care roles can share first-hand insights on impacts of chemicals on health. In our scenario women would be more quickly informed or susceptible to seeing changes in their environment and how this impacts women’s health, men’s health, children’s health, and the health of animals.
Therefore, it is important to purposely invite women to the decision-making table on environmental policies. Since 1992 governments have agreed on these “women and gender constituency” seats, not only in Sustainable Development Processes, but also in the Chemicals, Biodiversity and Climate Conventions. Since then, women have a seat at the table.

And you mentioned the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that are a global framework for development by the year 2030. How would you describe your organisation’s contribution towards achieving the SDGs?

The current challenge with the SDGs is, that with a few exceptions we are not on track yet. For example SDG 12, that foresees to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns including the chemicals related sub target (12.4), which states: “By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment”. That target is not achieved yet.
The SDG framework is a useful global programme because it allows civil society organisations such as the WECF to hold their respective governments accountable. Each year at the United Nations, participants, activists and so on can pose the question and ask: Governments, how are you doing in regard to SDG 12? How are you doing on your commitments to the Chemicals Convention and to SAICM? And have you done enough on your national level to really promote the alternatives? Of course, we have seen a lot of positive development, really focused on greening sectors, such as the chemistry sector, or slow shifts towards circular economy processes, but we still, on the other hand, have linear processes in place. The chemical industry and associated sectors will play a very important role in this transformation.

Speaking of your international network and showcasing women led solutions. Do you have some examples of women led innovations?

The company Natracare was one of the first companies which started producing non-toxic, eco-friendly and affordable menstrual hygiene products. Natracare has shaken up the menstrual hygiene industry in the UK. But for many girls, eco-friendly sanitation products are unaffordable. Even the conventional ones are too expensive. Also in Germany, the world's fourth-largest economy, and in Holland, we still have menstrual hygiene poverty and for many young girls it’s too expensive to buy menstrual hygiene products.
Therefore, Natracare and other eco-providers also developed affordable, innovative solutions such as reusable menstrual cups. This requires a one-time investment and after that the cost is zero through several years. Additionally, it is environmentally friendly.
I think, looking at the product from a holistic perspective, including the social, gender, and environmental dimensions, like the ISC3 aims to do, is very relevant and is the type of responsible businesses approach we would like to see more in the future.
Right now, we have different menstrual cups and sponges and an entire portfolio of reusable menstrual products on the market, which don’t have the same stigma as during the time of our grandmothers. These kinds of companies explore new opportunities, a new target group, but also help find social, environmental, and transformative solutions.

Ms. Gabizon, you have been active in international law-making processes for many years and very recently returned from the COP26. What are your top three observations this time?

From a social justice point of view, my first observation is that this time in Glasgow we had very strong delegation of indigenous women who made their perspective very clear.
My second observation is that gender was among the top most visible topics on the COP26: a very well organised gender and women group, a gender day, the gender action plan for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Gender Just Climate Solution Awards have been very prominent activities.
Thirdly, the awareness that gender and climate are intertwined, such as women and girls will be unproportionally negatively affected by climate change, has raised.
Therefore, business as usual is not an option and the chemical industry sector is a major contributor to climate change, as a major player in terms of carbon-intensive industrial and agricultural production and consumer products, but also for tackling climate change. This also leads to another challenge that we face often: How do you make a topic like chemicals interesting for the younger generation? They are very interested in climate policy now, but climate change is also about chemicals, chemicals in plastics, agro-chemicals, and about innovative and green alternatives that are not based on petro-chemicals, which is now coming more into the spotlight.
Another interesting observation is that for the first time, there was a holistic approach on how climate solutions related to all sectors, from water to consumer products, to agriculture, energy, and transport.
In the end, the overarching question remains, that I know you at the ISC3 are discussing as well, which is: How do we get and how to define sustainable chemistry which does not destroy the planet?
Portrait of a woman smiling

Interview with Tosin George, co-founder of Shobab Energy

Oluwatosin (“Tosin”) George is a renewable energy professional who has an academic background in Pure and Applied Botany. Tosin has manifold experiences in business operations, project management, data and business analysis, particularly in the solar energy sector. To move renewable energies forward Tosin co-founded the Nigerian-based start-up “Shobab Energy” in 2020, whereas the start-up, since its kick-off, received many awards and international public recognition. Electricity generated from Shobab Energy plants will save time and effort (e.g. chores) which can be invested into other productive activities (e.g. child education, income generation). Tosin points out that on a global scale, statistics show that women hold less than 25% of the workforce in the energy industry and only 6% of these women occupy technical and executive positions. Based on her experiences sees a reliable networks, leadership programmes, values, diversity, and expertise as key ingredients to create a successful start-up.

"We need to adopt innovative approaches that will encourage and provide adequate support for women and young girls in Sustainable Chemistry."

Tosin George is a renewable energy professional from Nigeria, with experience in Business Operations, Project Management, Data and Business Analysis, particularly in the Solar Energy sector. Her varied excellent studies not only earned her several honors and scholarships, but also made her, in her own words, an artsy scientist. Having first worked as a lecturer, Tosin then followed her passion to work in the energy sector. She strongly believes that access to reliable energy is key to prosperity for the African continent.
Therefore, Tosin co-founded Shobab Energy in December 2020. Shobab Energy uses waste from palm oil production as biomass resource in combination with a Solar Photovoltaic system to ensure access to modern energy systems, providing access for 1.776 million people across oil palm communities in southern Nigeria.

Could you elaborate a little on your background, and your education? How did you get into chemistry? What kicked off your passion?

Access to reliable electricity is a struggle for millions of Nigerians, including myself. As a result of this experience, I was quite keen on working in the renewable energy space, particularly as it concerned production of electricity and new materials from biomass and municipal waste. So much so that I dedicated my entire undergraduate project to the synthesis of bioplastics from Cassava Starch as a way of addressing the growing menace of plastic pollution. After completing my studies in Pure and Applied Botany, I went on a 6-months Songhai Leadership Academy program for young African leaders at the Songhai Regional Centre, Republic of Benin, in a quest for deeper learning on biofuel technologies. At Songhai, where zero waste is practiced, I became deeply involved in the production of bioenergy (biogas) from organic waste. My experience at Songhai, was a bright revelation of how waste can indeed be valorized to meet energy needs and improve environmental protection as well. And that was how I started my journey in the renewable energy industry.

Did you ever feel it was unusual for a woman to proceed in your area? What made you move forward?

No. I never felt that way. I was more concerned about what I could do to contribute to the development of the renewable energy industry. I was actively involved in groups and initiatives that supported sustainable energy programs, education and awareness. I, however, thought there weren’t many women in the Nigerian renewable energy industry at the time but that did not deter me from pushing forward. I drew a lot of motivation and encouragement from my environment and a strong network of amazing lecturers and friends.

You have volunteered as a Committee Member for the Energy Institute, Young Professionals Network (YPN), where you co-organized a networking event for young women professionals in the energy sector. During this event were there any specific areas the energy (specifically the renewable energy) sector must improve, to encourage young women to pursue a career in the field?

The EI YPN Nigeria is a strong supporter for creating opportunities for women in the energy industry. To empower more women, we provided a platform for young female professionals to connect and engage senior female executives in the energy industry. The platform brought together women from various disciplines in energy, to discuss important topics and issues that pertained to women in the area of leadership, career advancement, investment opportunities and entrepreneurship. As the current Vice President, Projects, I am definitely looking forward to creating bigger and better platforms, with the support of EI YPN and key stakeholders, that will introduce more women into exciting and rewarding careers in the energy industry. We need more women to be involved in these spaces. It is equally important to provide these opportunities for women at the grass root levels, starting from primary and secondary schools, rural community outreaches, local and state government sensitization programmes.
On a global scale, statistics show that women hold less than 25% of the workforce in the energy industry and only 6% of these women occupy technical and executive positions. We cannot achieve energy access without participation from women. More women, I believe, in the energy sector will spell a quicker transition into the era that we seek.

Looking at your career, how did you get the idea of founding “Shobab Energy” and how does it improve women’s lives?

The word “Shobab” means to renew, to give a new life and that’s what we are doing by turning oil palm biomass waste into electricity. Shobab Energy started as an interest shared by my two co-founders and I to clean the enormous waste generated by palm oil processing whilst providing 24 hours on demand electricity that is reliable, affordable and circular economy centred. Rural communities are characterized with no access to national grid or unreliable power supply which leaves them with no other option but to settle for ineffective energy sources such as lantern (kerosene), candle, cost ineffective diesel/pms generator sets. Via our services, we would be providing access to clean, affordable and reliable electricity supply to households, small-scale businesses and primary health-care centres. This will improve business productivity by 50% and users’ per capita income by 39 percent. Electricity generated from our plants will be used for cooking, lighting, irrigation and other purposes. Women will be able to save time and effort spent fetching fuel and water, including exposure to open fires during cooking. Time and effort saved from these chores can be invested into other productive activities such child education and income generation. This will boost the education prowess and reduce risk to eye defect of children in households, 14% reduction in the child-mother mortality rate in rural communities saving an average of 82 under 5 children from death.

As a co-founder of Shobab Energy, was it important to you to ensure the presence of women in the top management level positions?

We are appreciative of gender diversity. This clearly shows with our current team gender ratio. We have four women and three men on the team. However, we are careful not to choose team members based on just gender but rather by the value, diversity and expertise that they add to the team.
As we progress and grow as a team, we are making sure that gender diversity is apparent, appreciated and valued across all our processes and activities.

How can you envision the future of sustainable chemistry and the gender topic?

I would like to see communities, where women are part of the processes involved in the production, consumption and efficiency of sustainable energy systems. We must challenge the status quo as it concerns gender diversity. We need to adopt innovative approaches that will encourage and provide adequate support for women and young girls in sustainable chemistry.
Black woman with blonde short hair smiling in the camera.

Interview with Professor Dr. Dr. Vania Zuin, professor in Analytical Chemistry and Education

Professor Vania Zuin holds two PhDs, one in Analytical Chemistry and a second in Education. She is a professor at the Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil and a visiting professor at the University of York (UK) and Leuphana University (Lüneburg, Germany). In Lüneburg, she is currently lecturing in the world's first Professional Master in Sustainable Chemistry which started in March 2020. She also conducts research projects and supervises students supported by Brazilian and German public institutions, as well as the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) and Robert Bosch Foundations. One of the international research programmes she leads is the "Field & Food Tech Hub" (Innovation Agency-UFSCar, Sao Carlos, Brazil), a project that promotes healthy and ethical living through green and sustainable products and processes in agriculture and the food industry. Having vast experience and a strong educational background, Vania Zuin describes the situation of women in her research field and their potential contributions to sustainable chemistry from an insider’s perspective.

"What is considered good enough for women in science?"

How did you get into chemistry?

I was about 17 years old and visited an exhibition presented by chemistry students at a university in Brazil. I was so surprised and amazed because I found everything I liked: The microscopic, as well as the macroscopic dimension. The students used knowledge to describe phenomena, but it was not only about molecules. It was also about how we use scientific information, how we design using chemistry to promote the common good, health, peace, and democracy. Chemistry, like everything else, is about people. It is not only about what, but how science is performed, we sometimes forget this. It was a turning point for me when I understood that what I wanted had a name.

What has helped you on your career path so far?

I realised that I had to work really hard, usually harder than men. As women, we need to prove that we are excellent in our subject all the time. You start your undergrad course with 70 per cent women, but the ones you hear in the lecture hall are almost always men even though women developed the ideas. I observed that the survival strategy of some female students was to become very tough, always presenting a perfect picture to the outside world. I can absolutely comprehend that, but it's also a pity. We should all bring in our characteristics; the female way of looking at life, possibly with a broader perspective and empathy, is precious. I noticed that I should have a clear intention and work very hard. But that is not all. It is also important how we do things or the correct ways that we achieve our objectives together, with excellent collaboration. This includes trust, honesty, strong connections over long periods and space for debate to promote truly relevant, inclusive, fair and cutting-edge knowledge.
On my career path, my supervisors were a great help and, later on, collaborators. At one point, I recognised that, by chance, all my supervisors for my PhDs were female. I learnt a lot from them and learnt that when I worked hard and was focused, I had the recognition and support I needed. It was a balance of being or aiming at being excellent in my subject and having distinguished supervisors who gave me a hand.

Today you are a professor yourself, how do you support your students?

I am happy that I can pass on my experience to my students. I try to put exceptional people together, being very selective. But that's not the whole solution; we need to achieve outputs, present results, write papers, coordinate projects. And sometimes we need to go on the stage and claim what we achieved, especially being a woman in science. I am always discussing all these aspects with my students in a very frank manner: it is also about opening hearts and minds. Thus, science is a social affair too, and that is so beautiful. We need to have a broader approach and locate the right person to do a task and then share the result with the community.

You got to know universities in Brazil, the UK, and in Germany. Do you see differences for women and their career opportunities?

Science is like a country itself, and there are similarities. We have to see that chemistry is still a male-dominated subject, like many STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields. We see the numbers: the majority of undergrads are women, but we are not full professors, directors, and editors-in-chief of journals, mostly. And let us not delude ourselves, although there are laws on gender equality in Brazil, society is far from being equal (for more information see here and here). In the UK and Germany, there are far more support programmes, and that is what is needed: Programmes to support women throughout their career tracks, to ensure they do not give up this scientific field, and more importantly, that they have the chance of a successful career in which they can also choose to have children.

What else could help women in this field?

  Discussing our role openly in science and, to summarise, I would highlight two things: First, we need more awareness about the potential of women in our field. And also: awareness of the challenges women are facing - especially in Brazil, where we are constantly judged not only by our achievements in science but also by our appearance, age, having a partner and children as synonyms of being really successful - by taking on a large part of the family work. It's all about sharing, science as well as the other aspects of life.
  Second, we have to be on the lookout for women doing excellent science and change our success benchmarks. Publishing articles in science journals still offers you the most prominent impact factor. But there are also other indicators; we need to consider expert books, reports and directives for ministries, involvement in calls for projects with strong national and international cooperation, like for example UN projects, the number of supervised students and if they are successful in reaching out for good professional positions. We also need to consider the place and circumstances women are working in. To investigate new standards here could also be interesting work for the ISC3.

How do you appraise the role of women in sustainable chemistry?

  Much of what I have just mentioned also applies to sustainable chemistry. We are at a turning point, considering the SDGs and the relevance of sustainable chemistry is becoming increasingly important. And that is why we need a broader view; it is not only about green chemistry; sustainable chemistry is much more than that. We have to include diversity in our standards, i.e. excellent people from different sectors, with diverse characteristics, who think differently. When we are reproducing the same in the same way, we will always get the same products and problems, and nothing will change. We need to be part of the change, with all our different perspectives.

How can you envision the future of sustainable chemistry and the gender topic?

Let us locate the rules and be aware that we cannot always maintain them. And I would not like to put a full stop on the gender discussion, but instead, encourage a wider debate about diversity. For instance, including different experiences, ages, races, geographical distribution, having or not children, etc. Chemistry is about transformation, and we are transforming ourselves all the time. Sustainable Chemistry, as presented by the ISC3, comprehends such ideas; it is a broader view related to long-term processes transforming chemistry in all sectors, aligned to with the UN's SDGs. Interestingly, the well-rooted decision from the ISC3 for an open definition about sustainable chemistry is a vanguard, helping to promote more effective dialogues encompassing diversity, transparency, simplicity with elegance and excellence in research, development and innovation that are keystones towards a plural and more sustainable world.
Portrait of a woman in front of a lake
A group of students in lab coats sitting and listening to their teacher
A group of four posing for a photo indoors