ClimateWorks CEO Anna Skarbek has been named Mission Innovation Champion for Australia, 2020, which places her in an eminent group of pioneering leaders committed to fostering international collaboration around clean energy R&D and innovation. 

Mission Innovation is a global initiative of 24 countries including Australia and the European Commission. Together, member countries represent 60% of the world’s population, 70% of gross domestic product and 80% of government investment in clean energy research. The initiative was established to ‘reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation’. 

In presenting the 2020 Champions on 12 June, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth – Mariya Gabriel –  said the initiative’s objective was more pertinent than ever amid the global pandemic:

“In the current times, these innovators, inspired by their dreams of a sustainable future, bring hope and optimism to citizens,” she said. “As Mission Innovation Champions, your ideas will cross borders and inspire new generations.” 

Mission Innovation Champions are selected based on their track record for creating and implementing new ideas. The Mission Innovation panel of judges selected Anna to join an international community of experts accelerating the clean energy revolution.

The 21 Champions come from a range of sectors, including government, industry and research – one from each participating country, and one from the European Commission (on behalf of the European Union). The expertise of the Champions ranges from software for power trading and grid stability, hydrogen production, artificial intelligence for materials discovery, organic waste biomaterials and many more. 

As Australia’s representative, Anna hopes to gather stories from around the world of where clean energy innovations are occurring and working and bring them back to Australia:

“This is to inspire Australians with hope that the climate goals can be achieved, and to motivate Australian governments and businesses,” she says. 

Mission Innovation Champions are selected for their ‘audaciousness and creativity’ and the potential impact the energy sector innovation and solutions they propose, especially in addressing global climate challenges.

The awards recognise individuals who choose to apply their talents and time to transforming the energy sector. 

The program is an opportunity to exchange ideas, networks and pathways; combining and leveraging unique skills and knowledge bases to accelerate the global shift to an affordable, sustainable clean energy system. 

Created in 2019, last year’s Champions had multiple opportunities to come together and exchange ideas. The current cohort will instead have the opportunity to meet and learn from each other in a digital setting. The 2020 group includes Champions from: Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Spain, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The initiative was announced at COP21 in November 2015, where world leaders came together in Paris to commit to ambitious efforts to combat climate change. Mission Innovation created the Champions program in 2019. Last year’s Champion for Australia was Glenn Platt, Research Director and Leader at CSIRO, a frequent collaborator of ClimateWorks.