Advance Awards 2021: Introducing the Sustainability Award Finalists

Nicole Iseppi

​​Nicole Iseppi is an award-winning sustainable development adviser and Managing Director of Global Operations and Performance for ENGIE. A passionate problem solver, Ms. Iseppi is committed to finding innovative and more efficient business and market solutions to address global energy access for our communities now and in the future. She advocates strongly for increased clean energy innovation and industry collaboration to accelerate global sustainable development, drawing on her expertise as an award-winning energy, climate change, finance and risk-management adviser. Ms Iseppi graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts. She credits her parents with instilling in her the belief that if you are fortunate to have access to a good education, then you also have a responsibility to do something useful with such knowledge and give back positively to society. Ms Iseppi believes we have entered a ‘new industrial revolution’, ‘where the future of the energy world will be ‘3D’. That is, Digitalised, Decentralised and Decarbonised.

Ms Iseppi is a proud Australian who has worked internationally at the forefront of the global energy sector for more than 20 years. Born and raised in Melbourne, she had the rare opportunity to be the first female foreigner directly employed as an in-house adviser to Japan Bank for International Cooperation, one of the world’s largest project finance lenders. As well as project managing global infrastructure investments, she was appointed as the lead adviser to establish and implement, on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Finance, a new green financial institution called “Japan Carbon Finance”. In the years since, Ms Iseppi has been appointed by the International Renewable Energy Agency to co-lead the design and implementation of global renewable programs and was appointed Project Director for the Terrawatt Initiative, created out of the COP21 Paris Agreement. She serves on various industry advisory committees and has been awarded various global energy and finance awards including most recently being named: International Energy & Natural Resource Adviser of the Year (Global List – 2020); Renewable Energy Professional of the Year 2020 (Corporate Innovation & Excellence Global Awards); Most Influential Leader in Energy Infrastructure Advisory Services 2020; Europe Senior Executive Adviser of the Year 2020, and; among the Top Global Transformational Women Leaders 2020.

“Access to energy plays a vital role in all communities and economies, around the globe.  As an active problem solver, I am a strong advocate for accelerating solutions for global energy & industry transition. As the future will be a new “3D World”.  That is, a future based on more “Decentralised” activities; increased focused on “Decarbonisation” and the importance to accelerate scale up of climate resilient investments to achieve a net zero trajectory and a more “Digitalised” future society. The speed of change is accelerating and one needs, more than ever, to be actively part of accelerating such further progress.  I find such challenges and opportunities for the benefit of the wider community, extremely rewarding.  We have so many exciting opportunities ahead and the best way to address global clean energy needs, is to accelerate action and collaborate by pushing the boundaries further of what is possible and the ability to innovate more (at all levels of the value chain) – to achieve more efficiency and a more sustainable quality of life for both our current and future generations”

Dr Darian McBain

​​Dr Darian McBain is a sustainable ocean economy advocate. She is the Global Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Thai Union, a multi-billion dollar listed seafood producer in Bangkok. Dr McBain has created their first global sustainability strategy, SeaChange, mandating responsible sourcing, reduced emissions, water use and energy waste at factories and supporting employees and local communities. Growing up near the ocean in Australia, Dr McBain is an environmental engineer passionate about the world below the sea. She believes the degradation of the oceans is a tragedy of the commons, in that no one is definitively accountable for the oceans. Dr McBain has launched Thai Union’s global tuna commitment to minimize and mitigate impact on the ecosystem. She also set up a partnership with The Nature Conservancy for supply-chain transparency and onboard monitoring on supplier vessels, with sustainability-linked loans tied to sustainable performance. She led an initiative to clean up discarded fishing gear in the ocean and helps run Thai Union’s Green Team of internal sustainability advocates. A 2019 company survey found that the staff perceived sustainability as Thai Union’s biggest strength.

Dr McBain’s work has been widely recognised. She received the Edie Sustainability Leader of the Year Award 2018, the Ethical Corporation 2018 Responsible Business Leader of the Year, SeaWeb Seafood Leader of the Year for Vision 2019, CSR Asia’s Sustainability Superwomen 2019, Anti-Slavery Australia’s Freedom Award 2019, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business for 2020, Harvard Business Council 2020 International Business Excellence Professional Award and was named a United Nations Global Compact Sustainable Development Goal Pioneer for 2021.

“I look around and I see the destruction of nature, and significant inequality in global supply chains and it motivates me to try to find sustainable solutions to society’s challenges rather than just looking at the problems.”

Dr Kira Mileham

Dr Kira Mileham is the ecological cupid of species conservation. She connects the world’s leading conservationists and scientists from 163 countries with organisations, governments, donors and practitioners to collectively ensure species survival.  Through partnerships she has created, more than 5,000 species have been assessed for their risk of extinction and included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Other partnerships have united experts to develop plans to save species. As Global Director of Strategic Partnerships for the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission, Dr Mileham instigated an ambitious decade-long strategy, Reverse the Red, to support governments in reversing trends in species loss. She has galvanized a global community of Zoos, Aquariums, Botanic Gardens and conservation partners to work collaboratively and strategically to catalyse conservation impact.

The bravery of uniting these global communities requires a paradigm shift and elevated understanding of the role multi-stakeholder collaboration can and must play in saving species. Dr Mileham says we hear too often that approximately 1 million species are facing extinction. What we don’t hear enough are the messages of hope; about the species that have been brought back through the incredible passion, skill and commitment of conservationists working around the world; many of whom literally lay down their lives to ensure that we can continue to share this planet with wildlife and wild places. Dr Mileham believes we know how to save species, we know how to leave a better planet for future generations and we know how to ensure that the living systems of plants, animals and fungi continue not only to survive, but thrive. We simply need to do more and to do it together. Dr Mileham is dedicated to supporting this shift and shares her vision at key events for National Geographic Society, The United Nations World Wildlife Day and the World Wildlife Fund.

“I am constantly motivated by a quote from Sally Jewell, former United States Secretary of the Interior, who said, “Conservation needs to move beyond random acts of kindness and instead mobilise strategic, coordinated action to save the planet” – achieving this shift is what gets me up each morning.”