grantees » Karen Goldberg

Karen Goldberg, South Africa

Karen Goldberg is an inspiring young South African woman and it seems impossible not to be touched by her devotion to the cause of a more sustainable world. “In my teenage years I had a sense that my work should lie in between nature and people. I have had a challenging childhood and that’s why I have an understanding for people who struggle”, she explains. “My picture of sustainability would be a world where everyone has a very high level of well-being, so people have what they need not just physically but also emotionally, and obviously that is linked to how we use our resources”, she says.  Karen also has an idea on where to start: “by developing the personal tools of care, collaboration and communication”, she says, emphasizing that it is also central to learn how to work and solve issues together.


Karen is now finalising her Mst in Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge, thanks to a JWH Initiative grant. Her personal struggle on how to deal with climate change and degradation influenced her to research how activists can face such big issues without getting paralysed. “My thesis is called ‘Sustaining Hope and Action in the Face of Climate Change’”. Karen’s personal experience also directed her ambitious plans for the future, “I hope to support people to become empowered change agents in the field of sustainability”, she explains. With this aim and using the knowledge she gained, she is developing her own organisation, a social enterprise called Kaia Africa – Knowledge. Awareness. Inspiration. Action. According to Karen, the mission will be “to foster/inspire sustainable leadership and innovation by growing and nurturing human capabilities through personal leadership development and collaborative dialogue processes, drawing inspiration from the innate wisdom and creativity that lies both within individuals and the natural world”.