S01 EP02 Leaders in sustainability — Portrait of Dr. Catherine Sorbara

Updated: Apr 10

Our first episode featured Dr. Célia Sapart, teeming with passion about climate change. She has been a researcher on the subject before jumping right into the arena, to inform, advocate, and educate us on the potential of Carbon Capture and Utilisation.

Dr. Catherine Sorbara became a leader in sustainability by conviction. As Célia, she has been in the polar regions and has seen how climate change has affected the most remote places. As Célia, she believes that communicating science is very important to instill the change.

Her strong points are the way she educates and trains the younger generations to be leaders of tomorrow, and her activism to induce systemic changes.

Read her portrait below, you will be inspired!

From neuroscience to sustainable development

Catherine did not become a leader in sustainability by training.

She became one by conviction.

For 10 years she worked as a researcher in academia in Canada and Germany, studying neurodegenerative diseases. But then, she decided to follow another path.

She moved to England and ran a start-up company called Cheeky Scientist, a global professional network that helps PhDs see their value and find meaningful work outside of academia.

In 2018, she enrolled in a leadership program for women in STEMM, called the “Homeward Bound”, during which she travelled to Antarctica. She realised how climate change has affected even the more remote places on Earth.

This program has been transformational for her.

It planted the seed of the emergency of dealing with the climate change challenges, moulded the sustainable leader that she is today and also awakened the desire to help women express their voice and know their value.

Training the younger generation to be the leaders of tomorrow

When she talks about sustainability, Cathy makes a point of putting people and climate challenges together.
Leaving a legacy, designing an inclusive future, make sure that our children’s children will have a planet to live on, is the most important for her.

She tackles this by training the young generations to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Nowadays, Cathy lives in the Netherlands and volunteers across several non-profit organisations.

Today, she is a head coach at Progress Fearless, for “Climate science meets art”, a course she developed for girls aged from 9 to 11 years old, to teach them about climate change.

Another objective of this program is to empower them to make a difference and contribute to a more sustainable society.

Project Fearless

Together, they learned the science behind climate change, debunked misinformation they receive in the news, and then, they used art as a channel for communication, to help them engage with the topic and express what they learned in a fun and interactive way.

For Catherine, art and science are very complementary and put together have a ripple effect to induce change by helping to communicate science to the general public.

How art and science collide to make the perfect environment for change

She noticed that these children were already very stressed about the future of the planet, at this young age.

This is why she wanted to give them a space where they could express these feelings, turn their anxieties into optimism, and their feelings of helplessness into feelings of hope.

Sustainability and national policies

Having worked and lived in Canada, Germany, England, and the Netherlands, Cathy was in the first-row seat to see how each country turns the wheels for a more sustainable future.

There are many factors at play that contribute to sustainability at a national level.

For example, people’s relationship with nature, infrastructure for public transportation, sound environmental policy and, of course, economic ties to dirty energy, from the tar sands of Canada to the gas fields of the Netherlands.

Each country has made steps in the right direction although there is much more work to be done.

Sustainable Development Report dashboard

Cathy is also an activist.

She is the Head of Engagement at Net Impact Amsterdam, an association for people that aim to use their professional skills to contribute to a more sustainable society.

She also volunteers at Green Peace international in the Executive Director’s office. She respects their ability to bring people together to drive systemic change.

Cathy believes that every company, from start-ups to large corporations, and individual, from artists to financial experts, must work together and leverage their own unique gifts to bring about change.

In the next 10 years, she hopes that the Covid-19 crisis aftermath will inspire people and governments to create a more sustainable society for all.

If she had a magic wand

Cathy feels strongly about climate justice.
She would like to see systemic changes in the way we govern and live that provides equal opportunities for everyone.