ESG Foundation’s

Top 50 ESG ‘Ones To Watch’

The ESG Foundation has compiled a list of the Top 50 people – who we believe – are ‘Ones to Watch in 2021.

Influencers in ESG can be found across many sectors from finance, energy, real estate to government agencies, academia and advocacy groups. While some on our Ones to Watch List lead through their actions, others are creating meaningful conversations about change, and are promoting best practice ESG behaviours amongst organisations, and often sharing useful content on social media.

Therefore, ESG Foundation’s Top 50 ESG ‘Ones to Watch’ in 2021 is diverse, with the carefully selected list of influencers each leading the shift towards ESG in a variety of different ways. Some are heads of ESG at large multinational companies, leading ESG efforts in their industry, while others are sustainability experts at firms long recognised for their sustainable and ethical practices. Some are CEOs of sustainable start-ups, scholars at ESG think tanks, sustainable investors or outspoken advocates on transparency and accountability, gender parity, sustainable and ethical supply chains. Others have enhanced the promotion of ESG and the need for effective ESG reporting through the use of social media and podcast interviews.

Disagree with our List or think we missed anyone? Let us know here or bring it up on social media. It’s time everyone was talking about ESG.

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Name, Job title


Why are they interesting?


Lisa P. Jackson, Vice President on Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives
Jackson is Apple's Vice President of Environmental, policy, and social justice initiatives and served as Administrator of the US's Environmental Protection Agency from 2009-2013. She leads Apple's efforts to conserve resources and Apple's $100 million Racial Equity initiative.
Ivo Knoepfell, Board member
OnValues, Centre for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth, Peace Nexus Foundation, Global Footprint Network
Author of report 'Who cares wins', released in 2005. This was part of the early initiative to incorporate ESG in to the capital markets and made the case that embedding environmental, social and governance factors in capital markets made good business sense and better outcomes for society. This report formed backbone for the Principles for Responsible Investment at the New York Stock Exchange in 2006 and the launch of the sustainable stock exchange initiative the following year. Today Ivo provides strategic advice in areas as diverse as peacebuilding, development within planetary boundaries and innovative sustainable finance education.
Ljupka Mitrinovska, Founder
Accelerate 2030
Accelerate 2030 is a program co-initiated by impact hub Geneva and the UNDP, with a mission to scale internationally the impact of entrepreneurs working towards achieving positive social and environmental change contributing to the UN's SDGs.
Vince Digneo, Sustainability Strategist/ Head of Sustainability
Vince Digneo joined Adobe in 2013 as the company's first Global Sustainability Strategist. Since 2017, Adobe has decreased its total energy consumption by over 10,000 MWh and decreased GHG emissions by 1000 tonnes. They are also committed to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035. Vince was previously Global Environmental Sustainability Initiatives Manager at HP.
Katharine Hayhoe, Founder and CEO
ATMOS Research
Hayhoe is a climate scientist, researcher, speaker, author, lecturer and founder of ATMOS Research, a scientific research and consulting firm that provides analysis and translation of climate-related data into information for decision-making. She has published over 125 papers and has received many honours including being named one of FORTUNE’s world’s greatest leaders in 2017.
David Cumming, Chief Investment Officer
Cumming recently announced that he and Aviva would not be investing in Deliveroo due to the lack of rights for riders: not getting minimum wage, sick leave and holiday pay. Aviva has also recently launched a two part series into why asset managers need to engage with companies to be active against racism and is a founding member of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark.
Alastair Marke, Director-General
BCI (Blockchain & Climate Institute)
Marke is an experienced climate change and innovation policy adviser and cofounded the BCI in 2016, a think-and-do tank raising awareness of the potential of Blockchain technology to facilitate climate change policy goals. He chairs the Energy, Climate Change & Green Finance Committee of the British Blockchain Association and advises the APPG on Blockchain.
Frances (Fran) Beer, Founder
Beeswax Wrap Co.
A people and planet friendly business. B Corp company and all packaging is carbon balanced with The World Land Trust. Always plastic free and handmade in the UK. Commited to carbon neutrality by 2030.
Dave Rapaport, Global Social Mission Officer
Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry’s sees corporate activism as a core part of its business and takes a public stand on numerous progressive social and environmental justice issues. The company first aligned itself with the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016 and put out a clear supporting statement in June 2020.
Martin Johnson, CEO
As CEO of Biogen, UK's leading operator of anaerobic digestion plants, recycling food waste plant, Martin continues to be a good example of how to operate and integrate ESG within buisness without sacrificing economic growth. Biogen was named the greenest company in the world in 2015 by Newsweek, so is worthy of a spot on the list.
Larry Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Founded BlackRock in 1988 with seven partners. Strong ESG alignment - February 2021 BlackRock told 1,000 of the biggest polluters in its portfolio to publicly disclose emissions alongside rigorous decarbonization targets or risk voting against them at shareholder meetings/consider divestment from polluters who do not take action. In 2020, it voted against management at 69 carboon-intensive companies and put 191 firms 'on-watch' over their climate efforts.
Geeta Aiyer, Founder and President
Boston Common Asset Management
Geeta founded Boston Asset Management in 2003 with the aim of urging investment managers to root their decisions in ESG rather than viewing it as an afterthought. Her organisation was instrumental in the campaign to change the name of NFL team Washington Redskins, by persuading FedEx to withdraw its sponsorhsip unless alterations were made.
Patrick Thomas, Head of ESG Investments
Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management
An ESG investment expert, Patrick Thomas chairs the company's ESG Committee. He created and operates the ESG Portfolio Service and works with charities, trustees and individuals to manage their capital more sustainably.
Robbie Epsom, Head of ESG (UK & EMEA)
CBRE Global Investors
As head of ESG at CBRE Global Investors he is responsible for the firms sustainaility vision and Co-founder of The Sustainability Circle, a sustainable living blog.
Gillian Tett, Editor-at-Large, US
In 2019, Tett launched 'Moral Money' - an FT section covering social responsibility, sustainable finance, and impact investing. She now serves as the FT's US editor-at-large and previously served as the organisation's capital markets editor which allowed her to focus on interesting areas such as green bonds and ESG in capital markets.
Mardi McBrien, Managing Director
McBrien has led flagship environmental campaigns and projects for the Campaign to Protect Rural England and WWF-UK’s Earth Hour. She is a member of the GRI Stakeholder Council, a trustee of the International Tree Foundation and a founding board member of WOCAN. In 2013, McBrien was awarded environmental campaigner of the year by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.
James Butterfield, Founder and Managing Director
Chilly's Bottles
Chilly's Bottles are on a mission to accelerate the adoption and everyday use of reusable products. An eco-friendly company. Products are durable and made of stainless steel, very different to plastic products.
Bosun Tijani, CEO and Co-founder
Co Creation Hub
Tijani is co-founder and CEO of Co-Creation Hub, whose Growth Capital is Nigeria's first social innovation fund helping inventors scale their products for larger social change. He was named among the 100 Most Influential People by New Africa Magazine for his work in the African technological industry.
Jack and Finn Harries, Founders
Earthrise studio
Twin brothers Jack and Finn are documentary photographers, filmmakers, activists and founders of a digital media company called Earthrise, which is dedicated to communicating the climate crisis through research, design and filmmaking. Jack has worked alongside Netflix, the BBC, Waterbear Network, and WWF (for whom he is an ambassador).
David Doughty, Chief Executive
Excellencia Limited
Doughty was named by Thomson Reuters as UK's top social influencer for risk. He is a world-leading corporate governance expert that works with the leaders of small and medium enterprises to make them more effective in implementing good standards of corporate governance and compliance.
Colin Baines, Investment Engagement Manager
Friends Provident Foundation
A co-founder of the Community Energy Coalition, he has co-authored reports on climate risk and "stranded asset risk" and led a coalition that successfully advocated for mandatory greenhouse gas reporting for all FTSE companies. Previously, he worked on Ethical Policy and CSR policies for the Co-operative Bank.
Hannah Green, Director of Corporate Responsibility
Glaxo SmithKline
Podcast interview on link. Hannah examines the importance of GSK’s own business purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer.
Amit Bouri, Founder/CEO
Global Impact Investing Network
Bouri founded GIIN in 2009 and has led it to become an organisation that is widely known in the United States for its Annual Impact Investor Surveys which focuses on sustainable and impact investing on the corporate scale.
Cliff Prior, CEO
Global Steering Group
Prior is CEO of GSG which covers 33 countries and brings together impact leaders in finance, business, government, and philanthrophy spheres. The GSG also publishes comprehensive newsletter several times a year that informs business leaders on news in impact investment and ESG.
Kate Brandt, Sustainability Officer
She leads sustainability across Google's worldwide operations and supply chain. She works to ensure Google is reaching and capitalising on opportunities to be sustainable and invest in circular economy. Kate continues to be a forerunner in maintaining good ESG within a global powerhouse like Google, even being appointed as a Federal Environment Executive in 2014 by former President Obama.
Jonny Goldstone, Founder/Managing Director
Green Tomato Cars
As founder of Green Tomato Cars, Jonny shows the huge sustainable impact you can have within you own city. He is the creator of London's only sustainable private hire company with the UK's largest zero emissions fleet, double offsetting any unavoidable emissions.
Bastian Buck, Chief of Standards
Buck has presented on sustainability reporting in more than 30 countries. He has worked in various capacities for GRI since 2006. He played a key role in the successful launch of GRI’s G4 Guidelines in 2013 and he led the introduction of the GRI Standards in 2016.
Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Podcast Host
How To Save a Planet
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert and writer. She is founder and CEO of Ocean Collective, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. She also co-hosts the Spotify podcast “How to Save a Planet”.
Joanna Yarrow, Campaigns Director
Human Nature
As the former Head of Sustainability for Ikea, she was a crucial part in securing the win of the 2019 CSR engagement/marketing campaign of the year for the ‘Live LAGOM’ initiative that encouraged sustainable living. She now is the founder of a sustainable living company, continuing to advise and help clients around the world implement sustainable practices.
Andros Payne, Managing Partner
He is a Managing Partner at Humatica, a consultancy which increases the performance of organizations, notably by focusing on governance matters. Andros Payne is featured on the ESG Foundation’s podcast regarding Good Governance.
Sarah Gordon, CEO
Impact Investing Institute
As CEO of the III, Gordon has strived to accelerate the social impact consciousness among corporate investors. She has also served as the former business editor of the FT, giving her impressive expertise in the worlds of impact investment reporting and ESG communications.
Simone Cipriani, Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative
International Trade Center
The Ethical Fashion Initiative connects some of the world’s most marginalised artisans in Kenya, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Haiti to the fashion industry’s top talents, for mutual benefit. This program gives isolated communities access to the international marketplace, creating long-term impact and replaces fast fashion with the use of sustainable, and artisanal materials.
Abbie Llewellyn-Waters, Head of Sustainable Investing
She is recognized for her approach to ESG integration and is an author for the CFA Institute on Climate and Investing certificate. Commited to adressing the structural hurdles faced by women in investment, she is an Ambassador for the Diversity Project and is a member of the 30% Club Investor Group.
Inka Pieter, Director CSR & Environmental Strategy
KLM (until Nov 2020)
Developed and executed the KLM sustainability strategy. Strategy aims to drive economic growth and social progress by bringing people, economies and cultures together.
Sue Bonney, Partner, Vice-Chair of KPMG, UK Head of ESG
Bonney has over 35 years of experience and leads KPMG’s programme of work in relation to the ESG agenda, driving it as a Board priority. She is the founder and co-lead of KPMG’s C-Suite Leadership Programme and a Board member of The Forward Institute, working with senior leaders to develop their skills and perspectives.
Alexandra Palt, Executive Vice President & Chief Sustainability Officer
Launched L'Oreal's sustainability programme, 'Sharing Beauty for All', addressing the impact of its supply chain, and aiming to make the company 100% sustainable.
Olivia Lankester, Senior Director in Social Responsibility
Widely rated in 2020 as the world's most reputable company. Olivia is senior director of social impact and responsibility at Lego and she is currently responsible for the Lego Group social impact strategy.
Lucy Greenwood, CEO and Co-founder
Lucy and Yak
An ethical, sustainable clothing company working to better all parties in the clothing supply chain. They think the system doesn't have to have winners and loosers. Working to improve both social and environmental impact. They pay tailors in India 3 - 4 times the state minimum wage. Also ensure that they pay above the living wage in the UK too.
Mike Barry, Former Sustainability Director for M&S
Marks and Spencer
Influential in the launch of Marks and Spencer’s sustainability programme, Plan A. In the ten years following this launch, the business achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, moved to 100% renewable electricity and achieved carbon neutrality across its global estate of stores, offices and warehouses.
Hortense Bioy, Global Director of Sustainability Research
Global Director of Sustainability Research at Morningstar, a financial and investment research company. Morningstar produces daily news reports reporting on their ESG research.
Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and Founder
As founder of Pavegen, a buisness that invented special paving tiles that convert footsteps into kinetic energy, Laurence continues to show how sustainability and good ESG can be implemented in innovative and exciting ways. Since Pavegen started, the paving has been installed in 36 countries, providing clean alternatives to energy generation across the world.
Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer
Procter & Gamble
She is an innovator within P&G, responsbile for developing and driving forward sustainable products into homes across the globe. As sustainability officer, she has made a wide spread impact and continues to be a leader of good ESG practices for P&G.
Daniela Arias, CEO and Chief Operating Officer
Sibö finds new efficient and clean raw materials to create healthy and sustainable solutions for the world. A business intending to save the world by looking for solutions where no one else does, by using BioTech and FoodTech as our biggest tools we have found a passion for waste and other un-common materials such as insects.
Laura Round, Communications Director
Sustainable Markets Initiative
The Sustainable Markets Initiative, and the Terra Carta, was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales at the WEF 2020 Annual Meeting and aims to lead and accelerate the world's transition to a sustainable future by putting Nature, People and Planet at the heart of global value creation.
Hiromichi Mizuno, Board Director
Managed $1.5 trillion in assets for the Japanese government, with an explicit focus on environmental and sustainable considerations. Hiromichi has also worked alongside the United Nations in promoting responsible investment, and currently serves on Tesla's Board of Directors and Audit Committee to focus on sustainable energy.
Kim Schumacher, Lecturer in Sustainable Finance and ESG
Tokyo Institute of Technology
He is the Founding Director of the Japan Sustainable Finance Research Network, a Chartered Environmentalist and an adjunct climate and environmental policy consultant for the Luxembourg Government. Moreover, he is a member of Technical Working Groups of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and Climate Bonds Initiative.
Lucie Basch, Founder
Too Good To Go
As well as founding Too Good To Go, Lucie Basch is a Chief Expansion Officer. She started her career in the food industry in the United Kingdom, and quickly channelled her passions for food and the environment into her singular mission: 'Eliminating Food Waste'.
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive
UK Green Building Council
She engages with UKGBC members, regulators and wider stakeholders. She also sits on the Green Construction Board, the Igloo Footprint Advisory Board, Grimshaw’s Stewardship Group and the Carbon Trust Advisory Panel. She is also a London Sustainable Development Commissioner, and chaired the British Property Federation’s Sustainability Committee for two years.
Leyla Acaroglu, Founder and Chief Disrupter
UN School of Disruptive Design
She was the 2016 UNEP Champion of the Earth for her Disruptive Design Method on issues of sustainability and the circular economy. She founded the UnSchool to adress such issues through systems thinking and disruptive design. Her TED talk on sustainability and plastic use has over 1 million views.
Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance; Finance Adviser to the British Prime Minister; Vice Chair and Head of ESG and Impact Fund Investing. Former Governor of the Bank of England.
United Nations, UK government, Brookfield Asset Management
Carney is a long-time and well-known advocate for sustainability, specifically with regard to the management and reduction of climate risks. As UN Special Envoy, his focus is on the implementation of climate action and the transformation of climate finance. For COP26, he is helping to mobilise action across the financial system.
Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Professor Sir Partha's Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity'was commissioned by the UK Government to determine new approaches to how we measure GDP taking into account the value of the environment and the quality of life.
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive Officer
Steele leads WWF-UK, the world’s largest independent conservation organisation, at a critical time in which she will shape and deliver an ambitious strategy to tackle the decline in species and habitats across the world. She sees WWF as a significant force for securing a future where people and nature thrive.



“Many corporates, even when they have a good story to tell and robust processes to manage ESG risk, are not giving investors the right information in the right format.”


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