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Sustainable Leadership: Harnessing Hope, Tech and Diversity for Impact, with Charlotte Connell

entrepreneurship leadership podcast classroom 5.0 Mar 13, 2024


Imagine if the key to a sustainable future was already within our grasp, guided by the wisdom of traditional knowledge and the innovative potential of technology.


Today’s guest, Charlotte Connell, a surfer, mother, and sustainability leader believes this future is well within our reach. She shares why on episode 31 of the Classroom 5.0 podcast.


It's rare to find voices that not only understand the depth of the climate, governance and social challenges facing our world today, but also embody the hope and solutions we desperately need. Charlotte, an award-winning sustainability leader who's making waves in the climate tech space, is one of those voices.

As the Climate Tech Ambassador for Greenhouse and Director of Impact for Climate Zeitgeist, she operates at the heart of climate innovation, investing, and corporate demand. Her work with The Sustainability Collective aims to democratise sustainability, ensuring that businesses contribute positively to our planet and its people. Beyond her professional endeavours, Charlotte's passion for social change and mental health advocacy shines through her volunteer work with One Wave and Surfers for Climate.

A recurring theme in our discussion was the undeniable importance of diversity and inclusion in the climate tech space. I learned a lot from Charlotte on topics including why the wisdoms of our First Nations people are imperative in ensuring the future success of our planet, and the impressive statistics that demonstrate how female founders are contributing to change.

Underscoring the conversation was the significance of collaboration, partnerships, and an inclusive approach to addressing the complex challenges of creating sustainable change:

‘“The only places in the world where that (climate) loss is less, that decline is not as rapid, is on lands managed by First Nations people. So it's really important that we include them in the solution story because particularly in Australia, we've had the most unique position of 60,000 years of traditional knowledge and systems."

"80% of people displaced by climate are women. So it makes sense that a lot of women are incredible founders and coming up with these amazing solutions in the climate tech space because they're the ones most hard hit by it… Over 60% of climate tech companies have at least one female founder. And that to me is no surprise because women, we're about solutions. We're about finding the best pathway forward. And there is no greater challenge than climate change."


This episode is jam packed with real world case studies of climate-tech companies, big and small that will inspire you to take action for good, as well as considered insights on how we can collectively leverage our diverse strengths to create an inclusive future that's kinder to our planet, and it's people. 

We discuss:

  • What the Sustainable Development Goals are and how you can use them to inspire your own purpose-driven action 
  • The regional innovators and female pioneers leading the way in designing and delivering climate tech solutions

  • The importance of addressing climate change with a gender lens: the critical need for equality in solutions.

  • Why it's imperative we incorporate First Nations wisdom and global perspectives in climate discussions and designing of solutions

  • Leadership defined by inclusivity: how to cultivate spaces where everyone belongs

  • The youth's role in climate action and how they're mobilising change for good




What I love about Charlotte is the incredible passion and hope she brings to every conversation, and the intentionality in which she takes action and supports others doing the same. Charlotte’s insights and experiences remind us that while the challenges of climate change are daunting, the solutions lie within our reach — through innovation, inclusivity, and collective action. 

Charlotte shared so many real-word case studies of companies, big and small, creating change for good. Here's where you can read more: 

  • Learn more about Supply Nation, Australia’s leading database of verified Indigenous businesses here
  • Read about the Sustainable Development Goals here
  • See how FloodMapp are delivering street-level flood intelligence as a live mapping feed before, during, and after a flood, to help us prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters here
  • Read about Great Wrap, the only Australian made compostable stretch wrap here
  • Read how seaweed can replace bioplastics here
  • See how Samsara Eco are partnering with Lululemon to tackle textile recycling here
  • Read about Xefco and their contribution to cleaner waterways here
  • Learn about how we can design for a circular economy via this blog post here
  • See how Investible is backing companies advancing humanity through technology here

Charlotte and her family live and breathe impact, and use dinner conversation as a time to reflect with these three questions:  

~ What was today's highlight?

~ What was the lowlight?

~ What was a lesson learned?

And when it comes to creating 'Inclusive Impact', Charlotte’s call to action for us all is simple:

"Ask questions. I want everybody who listens to this to become that diversity, equity, inclusion champion of where they are; whether it's in the classroom, whether it's in a workplace, whether it's in your friendship circles. Always thinking about - whose voices are we not listening to? Who hasn't been heard?"



Liked this episode? Here's how to rate and review on Apple Podcasts!

This helps us support more people, just like you, to imagine and create inclusive impact that benefits our future. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to share what you loved most about this and other episodes! 

And if you haven't already done so, be sure to sign up below to my weekly(ish) newsletter, where I share bonus updates, behind the scenes action and hand-picked recommended readings for every episode here on Classroom 5.0.

 Got an AHA moment you'd love to share? I'd love to hear it! Email your feedback to [email protected]. I personally read and respond to every email, with gratitude for your time and thoughts! 

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Classroom 5.0, and helping to imagine alive the future of learning, work and leadership.  



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