Towards a circular future with a female perspective

Paz Orviz Ibáñez. Gerente del Consorcio para la Gestión de los Residuos Sólidos en Asturias (COGERSA).

The environment belongs to women and will increasingly belong to women. This the result of the traditional role of women as household managers and educators of children, and the fact that they are mainly responsible for consumption decisions, not forgetting the significant representation of females in leadership positions in public authorities and businesses related to sustainability.

Paz Orviz Ibáñez, CEO at the Consorcio para la Gestión de los Residuos Sólidos en Asturias (Public Consortium for Municipal Solid Waste Management in Asturias – COGERSA).

Social surveys indicate that women are more aware of environmental protection than men, and that women of between 55 and 64 with a high level of education are those who recycle most in Spain.

In the professional sphere, a significant number of women are responsible for the management of sustainability, social responsibility and environmental departments, and even for the leadership of organisations and companies in the environmental sector.

My personal experience -I have been working for more than two decades in the public environmental sector in an Autonomous Community with a population of one million- is a small example of this. In 1998, I passed a civil service examination to enter the Body of Senior Technicians of the Public Administration of the Principality of Asturias. Following a brief stint at the Regional Ministry of Industry, I had the opportunity to apply for a post at the Regional Ministry of the Environment, which was responsible for the prevention and control of pollution in a highly industrialised region.

The European Union has legislated and continues to legislate on the environment, and policies have been consolidated to the point where we have achieved this new paradigm, in which decarbonisation and circularity are the concepts that inspire the new economy. On a personal level, I developed my professional career in the increasingly important area of the environment, taking advantage of what was initially a “small window” to grow as a person committed to her work.

In my current position, which I have held for a little over a year, I have been managing a public organisation that has been in existence for 40 years and whose top management is made up entirely of women. I would honestly say that this is purely coincidental, a simple result of the application of the principles governing the allocation of jobs in the public sector, i.e., equality, merit and ability. Or perhaps it is because we women like to work in a sector we are passionate about: with all the ingredients required for full development in the field of engineering and management, but with that differentiating added value of feeling that we are contributing on a daily basis to the creation of a fairer society and a more sustainable future for our environment and the people who will inhabit it.

But if I had to highlight one thing, it would be the desire to establish alliances between the women who work in the sustainability and circular economy sector: alliances between managers (Is management different for women?), alliances between young women with vocation and ambition, and alliances between all who work for a sustainable environment through associations, voluntary work, education and entrepreneurship. I hope that, together – and particularly in my region, which is facing a dizzying ecological transition but one full of opportunities – we can contribute to this already unstoppable circular future.

Published in: Nº 90 FuturENVIRO – May-June 2022