IE SPEGA x RAIA Summer Research Program 2023

This page displays five climate leaders (?!) that students from IE University’s School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs have researched under RAIA supervision and with RAIA’s methodology ahead of the COP28. This is the second year we have conducted this research program fully financed by our partners from IE University.

Each profile is divided into introduction, their Stake, their defining moment, their solutions, their impact and conclusion. “Their stake” analyses the key environmental challenges and issues a leader faces, “their defining moment” highlights the key moments that are pivotal to a leader becoming a climate leader, “their solutions” examines the policies and initiatives a leader provides  and “their impact” analyses how effective a leader implements the proposed solutions and how impactful they are. 

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (commonly known as “Lula” da Silva) is the President of Brazil, a widely popular figure who has played a significant role in the political landscape of the country. This report will explore Lula da Silva’s policies and efforts to address the pressing challenges of deforestation and climate change in Brazil. Furthermore, we will address the question of whether Lula is a global climate leader.


To find out more read Lana Francella & Maxima Riep‘s report:

This section explores the  climatic challenges Brazil is facing. To better understand Lula’s incentives to push for climate policies, analysing the reality of deforestation in the legal Brazilian Amazon is crucial. The stake concentrates on the impact of illegal mining and other activities in protected areas perpetuating the deforestation arc that threatens Lula’s presidency.

In the pursuit of a transformational leader development, it is of great value to reflect on specific points of moments in life, illustrating the essence of who Lula aspires to be as a leader. A climate leader recognizes the urgency of addressing climate challenges and strives to infuse sustainability and environmental consciousness into every choice they make in their policies.

Lula’s most impactful solution regarding international involvement is that he decided to reinstate the Amazon Fund. During the second term of his first presidency, he created this initiative which became the world’s most significant REDD+ project. After three years of inactivity, the Amazon Fund is back as Brazil’s most prominent and important source for international climate financing.

Lula da Silva’s second term only started in 2022, so evaluation is difficult. While concrete evidence of Lula’s past achievements is given, such as the successful reinstatement of the Amazon Fund, there are also promising prospects for the future, like the implementation of policies aimed at combating deforestation and annulling mining in protected areas by the year 2030.

Teresa Ribera Rodriguez has been the minister for the Ecological Transition of Spain since 2018 and the third vice president of the Government of Spain since July 2021. Her career ranges from academic to political work. She aims to put Spain at the forefront of the European Union’s climate policy.


To find out more read Ajinkya Deshpande & Valeria Eggers‘s report:

While all of Spain’s environmental challenges interconnected, the general link between them is climate change, both in the environmental consequences that it has produced to the political contention of the subject between different Spanish political factions.

Considered by many as an excellent negotiator and highly regarded in the climate sphere, Teresa Ribera’s path has seen itself intertwined with diverse ministries, organisations, and institutes. In between two ministerial stints came her role as director of the Parisian-based IDDRI

Among the policies at the forefront of her actions, the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) is arguably one of the most important of her career. The PNIEC sets ambitious climate and energy objectives, aiming for a 32% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Following the analysis of the profile, it can be affirmed that Teresa Ribera is a climate leader. When taking into consideration the findings concerning her trajectory in the climate sphere and the policies implemented during her time as Minister, Ribera has been impactful. 


MBS is aiming to transform Saudi Arabia into a diversified economy and transition from oil through a comprehensive development plan – Vision 2030.


To find out more read Sonia Platonova & Alisa Lazurenko‘s report:

His initiatives aim to maintain domestic and regional control. As oil revenues are not sustainable for long-term development, climate policies help improve MBS’ image amongst international investors, for large funds. 

The 2014-2016 oil price crisis brought the realisation that oil depletion poses a severe risk. A diversified economy is needed for the al-Saud family to financially stay in control domestically and in the region.

Apart from Vision 2030 and projects like NEOM city, Mohammed Bin Salman BS also established The Middle East Green Initiative as well as a broad policy focus on the rising role of green liquid hydrogen. 

Although all the green policies have been successfully launched and are now in the early development stages, they still require further investment and actual implementations.

In the realm of US American politics, few figures have emerged as dynamic and impassioned as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, popularly known as AOC. Her advocacy for climate change presents itself most evidently in The Green New Deal, a set of proposed laws meant to address both economic injustice and climate change as part of a 10-year plan.

To find out more read Maria Romero & Felipa Eichel‘s report:

AOC hopes to solve the issues of environmental justice and prevent the unfair burden of climate change from falling on already marginalised groups by promoting climate policies addressing this. She believes that although climate change has a detrimental effect on everyone, less privileged parts of society are facing stronger consequences.

AOC’s defining moment as the underdog who triumphed against the odds launched her political career and inspired a new generation of progressive leaders. In a country, where global warming is a debatable occurrence, AOC has consistently confronted the US American society, becoming a prominent Congresswoman and climate change advocate.

The political outlook gives a spectrum of AOC’s political engagement on how to combat Global Warming and how to do so with the Green New Deal. This section will assess the motivation and the thought of implementation behind H.Res.332 — 117th Congress (2021-2022). AOC’s platform seeks to build a greener, more resilient future. 

AOC’s success with embedding climate legislation into the Inflation Reduction Act shows her to be a shrewd politician, able to adapt to the constraints of the policy-making environment to fulfil her political agenda through other means than her landmark policy proposal. AOC is also displaying her  transition from activist to politician.

William Ruto

H.E. Dr William Samoei Ruto is Kenya’s 5th President, whose commitment to climate change advocacy permeates the political sphere, developing initiatives that use climate policy as a development tool aimed at improving the lives of Kenyan citizens and catalysing sustainable development.

To find out more read Chiara Cassina and Ruby Wanjikũ Gachara’s report:

Kenya faces environmental issues such as desertification, pollution, flooding, and overpopulation intensifying these challenges. Ruto’s interest in the environment and climate change is also seen through his previously mentioned academic experience. Apart from his undergraduate degree, MSc., and Ph.D., he has also written several academic papers on Kenya’s environment, such as his Ph.D. thesis.

For Kenyan President Ruto, his moment was his speeches at the 2022 COP27.  He stepped up and represented the African continent as a whole, headlining himself as a key climate change conscious leader. That same speech permitted Ruto to publicly oppose, in the international spotlight, against what he perceives as  the ‘injustices’ faced by Kenya and the entire continent from Western countries.

As part of President Ruto’s strive to form solutions to the current environmental issues Kenya faces, he was a member of a group of sponsors that launched the African Carbon Markets Initiative. Ruto also developed a climate plan to ramp up renewable energy production, phasing out fossil fuels by 2030 and he also launched the National Tree Planting Initiative, which aims to plant 15 billion trees by 2032

The African Carbon Markets Initiative, allowed for the expansion of the voluntary carbon market in Kenya. Although Kenya has been a member for less than a year, Ruto has already hosted a carbon credits auction, receiving more than 2.2 million tonnes of carbon credits. This shows how President Ruto’s climate change policies have led to an increase in international investment in Kenya.