Climate change is complicated. But that’s not stopping people around the world make a difference. We’re lucky to have some brilliantly diverse people leading our climate work across the firm. In this series, we help you get to know them, their areas of expertise and why they’re passionate about the planet.
Here, we chat with Dr Siobhan Gardiner, climate change and environment studio lead within Deloitte Ventures. Our conversation takes us from the beautiful English countryside to the forests of Madagascar – including an obligatory selfie with a lemur, of course.
Siobhan’s fascination with the natural world started at a young age. “I grew up in a mixed-race household on a small farm in the South of England. My mum is from India and my dad is from a British farming family. I spent most of my childhood outdoors, growing vegetables, learning about animals and finding bugs in the garden to draw in my notebook.”
A scientist by training, Siobhan studied biochemistry at university with a focus on plants, crops sciences and ecosystem services. This has taken her to lots of amazing places, looking at the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Reassuringly, her perspective on climate change is practical. “There is a lot of work to do, and I hope that each and every one of us will find a role to play in tackling climate change. If everyone does something to bring down their carbon footprint – then my goodness we are going to start seeing some real progress.”
Leaving the lab behind
Following a career in consumer goods R&D and sustainability-led technologies, Siobhan joined Deloitte last year to lead our Climate Change and Environment Studio within Deloitte Ventures. “My team and I work with our clients, alliance partners, start-ups and internal teams to come up with innovative solutions to build prosperity for people and planet,” she explains.
And she’s had a busy first year. Her current portfolio includes exciting projects on climate justice, wildlife conservation, circular economy, smart agriculture, decarbonisation and smart energy systems, amongst others.
So what’s the latest in climate and tech?
“There’s been a lot of excitement around how to leverage space technologies to accelerate climate action,” she says. “For example, we’ve been exploring how to use satellite imagery to track and protect the health of our planet’s mangroves and seagrass meadows. These are critical ecosystems in the fight against climate change due to their ability to capture even more carbon than rainforests.”
"We’ve been exploring how to use satellite imagery to track and protect the health of our planet’s mangroves and seagrass meadows."
Lessons from Madagascar
When asked about a career highlight, her eyes light up reminiscing about a particularly special research trip.
“Travelling to Madagascar as part of my PhD research was a big turning point in my career – working with farming communities, focusing on sustainable livelihoods and protecting forests.
To be able to take the research out of the lab and collaborate with smallholder farmers, the stewards of the environment, to test in the real world was invaluable. I got to listen and learn from a community that had been farming the local area for generations, while also sharing and discussing novel approaches that we could explore together. Being a farmer’s daughter myself, I feel as though there is common language in agriculture based on three principles – family, land and livelihoods. And they’re all interconnected wherever you are in the world.”
People and planet
Can she recommend us a climate influencer to read up on?
“Beyond the likes of obviously Sir David Attenborough, you mean? I recently read Green Swans by John Elkington, on regenerative capitalism and how to create a system change that’s better for people and the planet. I’ve also just started Value(s) by Mark Carney, in which he argues to place human values before market values to create a better, fairer and more sustainable global economy.” We’ll have to ask her for a review later on!
“There’s been a lot of excitement around how to leverage space technologies to accelerate climate action."
A shared responsibility
We asked Siobhan where she gets the energy to stay motivated.
“Climate change can often be a sector marked by doom and gloom. I actually get a lot of inspiration from my work with youth groups. I’m involved in mentoring school students, undergraduates and postgrads, and am always amazed by their ambition for change.
When working with youth networks, they show us time and time again that, unlike grown-ups sometimes, their drive for coming up with new solutions to problems is both refreshing and inspiring. We try to instil this same attitude with our clients too! Climate change is everyone’s responsibility. We’ve got a lot to do to achieve net zero around the world by 2050, and halve our emissions by 2030, but I really do believe positive change is possible.”
Meet the others
We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Siobhan. Our climate team are here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more. And if you want to meet the others, just keep reading below. We’ll introduce you to new people every month.
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