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Phoebe Barnard, PhD

CEO, Stable Planet Alliance


Internationally awarded global change and biodiversity scientist, filmmaker, public policy and communications strategist and professor, Phoebe Barnard has a fire in her belly for profoundly transformative sustainability change to a future kinder, wiser, humbler and much more sustainable civilization – led by women and men of vision, passion, and collaborative ethics and values.
Phoebe works at scales from global to local, on ecosystem/climate risk and resilience, human impacts, global change ecology and societal futures. She is the founding CEO of the Stable Planet Alliance, a global coalition of lively and dynamic organizations and experts on human planetary impact, Affiliate Full Professor of environmental futures and conservation biology at University of Washington, and climate Research Associate at University of Cape Town.
Working in southern Africa for 34 years, Phoebe founded and led national strategic programmes in biodiversity and climate change for the newly independent government of Namibia. She cites this as an extraordinary decade of opportunity, to see how a nation at the crossroads of its own political and social history could be shaped to think and act boldly and not repeat the mistakes of many other countries. Later, in post-apartheid South Africa at its own political and social crossroads, she founded and led research and strategy initiatives on biodiversity vulnerability to climate and land use change, again informing public policy and strategy through initiatives like biodiversity early-warning systems. She asks: can we use these lessons to help humanity as a whole navigate its global crossroads, in these times of existential threat?
Phoebe is a longtime global player: lead negotiator of the Convention on Biological Diversity, board and executive member of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and science director for the Global Invasive Species Programme in addition to her current roles. An author of multiple high-level scientists’ warnings, Phoebe is determined to work across spatial scales and sectors to help bring positive, transformative and collaborative change. She now directs global collaborative and youth-led programmes from her base in the former temperate rainforests of the USA/Canada border. Her latest film project, with her filmmaker husband John Bowey, is Back to Our Future: Climate Restoration and Survival – a global documentary series on the future of the planet, climate, and civilization.
Phoebe holds a PhD from Uppsala University, Sweden in evolutionary ecology, a MSc from University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and a BSc (Hons) from Acadia University, Canada.
She is a mountaineer, a meditator, yogi, community gardener, and leadership mentor of young professionals, especially women, across Africa, Europe and the Americas – all now young leaders and changemakers in their own rights. Awarded internationally for impactful leadership and teambuilding, she counts the affection and respect of her many students and mentees as among her greatest life satisfactions.