Christine Amour-Levar
Founder & CEO - HER Planet Earth & CAL Consultancy
Christine's introduction

Of French, Swiss and Filipino descent, I am a versatile purpose-driven leader with experience across a range of industry sectors. I have built a global career as a Marketing & Communications specialist and Social Entrepreneur intent on solving some of the world's most pressing issues.

Today, I run my own consultancy business helping clients define their purpose, develop their marketing, communications, CSR and sustainability strategies and I am also a Board Member and Advisor to several purpose-led organisations in the Social Impact, ESG, Fintech and Cellular Agriculture spaces.

What brought you to sustainability?

I started my sustainability journey by empowering women to protect our beautiful planet. I set up Women on a Mission (WOAM) and HER Planet Earth, two award-winning not-for-profit organisations that take all-female teams on pioneering expeditions as a way to support worthy causes.

HER Planet Earth's primary objective is to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged women affected by climate change, while WOAM aims to empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse.

This then opened other doors and led me to work as a consultant, advisor and board member in sustainability, food tech, ESG and impact investing.

Which sustainable actions are you in charge of or have you implemented in your organisations?

Over the years, I have worked with a variety of businesses from all types of industry sectors - startups, NGOs, government, academia and multinational corporations - to help define their purpose, develop their marketing and communications objectives, build their Sustainability, CSR and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategies and find the right partners and solutions for success.

Via my two non-profits – Women on a Mission and HER Planet Earth – my team and I organise expeditions to raise valuable funds and awareness for the social causes we believe in and the charities we support.

HER Planet Earth focuses on conservation and sustainable agriculture – supporting elephant sanctuaries in Africa, helping women farmers in Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines become more climate-resilient – while Women on a Mission partners with organisations providing entrepreneurial and life-skills education for women living in conflict-prone areas such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Rwanda and Sudan.

Which challenges did you meet and how did you overcome them?

These past few years, thanks to my work with my two NGOs Women on a Mission and HER Planet Earth, I’ve had the great privilege of taking hundreds of women, of all nationalities, ages and backgrounds, to off the beaten track locations around the world on challenging, often pioneering, expeditions that really push them outside of their comfort zone.

We’ve run expeditions to some incredible places, from regions of the Arctic circle, to the coldest, windiest and most remote continent on earth, Antarctica. We’ve crossed the largest caves in the world in Vietnam, so big in parts you could fly a 747 through them. We’ve sailed across remote islands in Asia and experienced real Robinson Crusoe-like moments.

My teammates and I became the first all-female team to bike across the frozen Arctic Circle Trail of Greenland, the first group to stand-up-paddle board down rivers in the Kingdom of Bhutan and bike across the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia – the hottest place on earth. We’ve migrated with reindeer herders in the middle of the Siberian winter, ridden on semi-wild horses with Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia and climbed many mountains in the Himalayas, Iceland and Africa. All these expeditions have had as mission to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable women.

As you can imagine, these unique experiences with teams of women to some of the most inhospitable and remote places in the world, have truly been incredibly humbling and formative experiences for me personally. They have forced me to push my limits on multiple occasions – really testing my mental, physical and emotional resilience – while allowing me to grow, succeed and fail in countless ways. And as I take stock of these past few years and plan the next stage of my career in this post-pandemic world, I realise that I’ve learnt more about myself and about leading teams through these experiences than in my 20 years in the corporate world, and as a result, I’ve found my own brand of leadership.

What do you think will be the main factor defining the next stage of environmental action in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia is impacted by enormous environmental stress resulting from global warming, urban excess, deforestation, water scarcity, overfishing and pollution. While Southeast Asian nations encourage political actions in favour of economic growth, they struggle to promote sustainable development approaches. Governments claim to work on a balanced approach that compromises both sectors.

The reality of the situation, however, reveals that governments tend to act in contradictory manners in their creations of sustainable economies. Whether it is rising sea levels, the devastation of the rainforests, or greenhouse gas emission, it has become evident that environmental issues do not halt at nations’ borders. Environmental issues ought to be seen as transnational problems. Hence, policy makers in Southeast Asia are under increasing pressure to reconfigure their environmental policies to satisfy their citizens’ needs on a national level. Furthermore, I believe Southeast Asian governments must foster a multilateral dialogue to avoid simply procrastinating problems.

One of the solutions Southeast Asia could focus on is the protection of its rich biodiversity, which could also create jobs and generate wealth. This could produce benefits valued at more than $2.19 trillion a year - while slowing down climate change - according to a new study published by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM). That result could be achieved if $10 billion was invested now, rising to $46 billion by 2030, says Eco-Business. The study’s authors point out that the investment is a tiny fraction of the possible paybacks in job creation, higher incomes, and a more sustainable environment.

Indeed, Southeast Asia is one of the most mega biodiverse regions of the globe, boasting the most extensive and diverse coral reefs and mangrove areas on the planet. These are national treasures of great sovereign worth, which need to be protected at all costs.

What is the link between women and climate?

Female empowerment and climate change are intrinsically linked. Seventy percent of the world's 1.3 billion poor people are women, and as a result, whenever a crisis hits, it is the women who bear the brunt of it.

In many countries around the world, women are among the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation, they are hit the hardest, partly because women make up the larger share of the agricultural workforce, especially in Asia, and tend to have access to fewer income-earning jobs.

Unfortunately, many people around the world are not aware of this disparity in terms of gender and climate change, we all have an important role to play to highlight this reality and share this untold story.

Additionally, despite the fact women are the most vulnerable to climate change, they are also a huge part of the solution. And in truth, empowering, investing in and educating women is a very good way to mitigate climate change, especially when we help women build livelihoods that are eco-friendly and compatible and in harmony with nature. And this is exactly what HER Planet Earth focuses on.  Our mission is to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged women affected by climate change to make them more climate change resilient.

What role do you think governments have in shaping policy and driving progress when it comes to environmental action and women’s rights?

Governments have a very important role to play in shaping policy and driving progress when it comes to environmental action and women’s rights.

Firstly, they need to acknowledge that climate change affects women and men differently. This is important information as they develop policies to reduce emissions and mitigate and cope with the impacts of climate change.  Policies that are gender-sensitive – in other words, that consider the needs and capacities of both women and men – are more likely to be effective.  

Advancing gender equality, eliminating violence against women, and ensuring women’s ability to control their fertility are cornerstones of population and development policies. As such, it remains an extremely relevant framework for governments when considering gender and climate change policies. Mitigation and adaptation measures should include a human rights-based approach to reproductive health and rights rather than a focus on demographic targets—and this should remain at the centre of climate change and population policies.

What accountability do you think private sector organisations have to support and drive progress when it comes to both female empowerment and environmental action?

The COVID-19 pandemic was a reckoning. It has shown me how vulnerable we all are in times of crisis. While exacting a heavy price by exposing and amplifying humanity’s problems, it has also made me realize that to drive change moving forward, corporate social responsibility, gender equality and sustainability need to be at the heart of big corporations, embedded in their business model, aligned with their values and not part of a separate initiative.

This only increases the urgent need for businesses to step up their efforts at a global scale. I believe the biggest problems in our world need trillions, not just billions, of dollars to fix. So, if we are going to make lasting and significant progress, and tackle the challenges of our planet and society, we need corporations, both the companies and the investors, to drive the solutions. This means thinking about supply chains, working on product design, and manufacturing processes and distribution. It involves incorporating social and environmental considerations and being transparent and accountable in all their actions.

What is your main aim for the future?

I often ask myself this question and the answer comes back to me time and time again, loud and clear, without fail, I want a fairer, more just and equitable future, for society and the environment. One where businesses—both companies and investors—non-profits and governments work together more closely than ever to bring ethical, creative, innovative strategies and invest capital to solve the biggest problems of our world.

Furthermore, when I think about the geopolitical tensions and worries about the pandemic, war, recession bubbling up to the surface, I am filled with a renewed and even more urgent desire to act on the critical challenges of our time: climate change, inequality, violence against women, mental health, protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, and more committed to rally our collective energies to help fund and scale up sustainable and game-changing innovations and solutions.

This is why I’ve recently joined the board of the venture capital firm Investible to support the launch of their global climate tech fund in Singapore. Focusing on the six sectors the UN has identified as critical to combating climate change, we will be investing mostly in APAC-based start-ups through the 100% dedicated impact fund. 50% of the companies backed by Investible’s Climate Tech strategy have at least one female founder, a trend we hope to maintain in the broader APAC region.

I believe the biggest problems in our world need trillions of dollars to fix. So, if we are going to make lasting and significant progress and tackle the challenges of our planet, we need corporations and investors to drive the solutions.

In which field could you help The Matcha Initiative users as a buddy?

I would be happy to help by sharing my experience and opening up my network.

What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to the Matcha Initiative users?
  1. Choose to do something you are genuinely passionate about and put it at the core of your life
  2. Work towards your goals every day. Putting in place lifelong habits are important to get you progressing towards your objectives
  3. Be generous with your network, social capital and information - Givers succeed in ways that create a ripple effect influencing the success of others around them and this will lead you to build stronger relationships and many more allies

Christine accepts to answer your questions.

If you need additional insights, you can send her a message.