Vanessa Timmer, Executive Director, One Earth
Vanessa Timmer is co-founder and Executive Director of One Earth, a nonprofit ‘think and do’ tank based in Vancouver, Canada, whose mission is to transform production and consumption patterns locally, nationally and internationally to be sustainable, healthy and just within the limits of living systems. She weaves together sustainability with systems thinking, and believes that envisioning sustainable futures is a powerful draw for social change. One Earth works with local to global partners to highlight the links between who we are, what we buy, where we live, what we make, what we trade, and how we live together. One Earth is working towards North American leadership in this area on systemic change, with partners including The Story of Stuff Project and The Sustainability Funders, and, on the policy front, with the Canadian and US Government, the United Nations, private sector, media, academia, and civil society. One Earth is leading the New Economies theme of the Canada-wide Cities for People initiative taking collaborative action to create more resilient and livable cities. Locally, she advises the City and Metro Vancouver and promotes eco-industrial networking regionally.
Vanessa is also an Associate with the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on innovation and global public goods. She is asked to speak on social change, leadership, systems thinking and sustainability, and teaches courses on these topics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University, Metro Vancouver and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
In 2013, she was awarded Business in Vancouver's Top Forty under 40.
Vanessa completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in 2010 at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning working alongside Bill Rees to explore inter-regional sustainability and decision-making. Timmer holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from UBC, a M.Sc. from Oxford University in Environmental Change and Management, and a Queen’s University Bachelor of Arts Honours in Sociology.
From 2002 until 2003, Vanessa was a Fulbright Research Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as part of the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability.
She participates in The Balaton Group, the Network on Science and Technology for Sustainability, the Great Transition Initiative, Earth System Governance Project and the Smart Civil Society Organizations (Smart CSOs) initiative.
She writes on sustainability, social change and leadership, livable and resilient cities, shifting consumption and production patterns, global public goods and commons, local initiatives combining poverty reduction with biodiversity conservation, and the role of international civil society actors in environmental politics and global governance processes. Vanessa previously worked for Sustainable Cities International in launching the Sustainable Cities International Network and for the regional government, Metro Vancouver, in shaping the regional sustainability principles and framework and developing its public engagement programs.
With her sister, Dagmar, she co-hosts the regional television show, The Sustainable Region, produced by Metro Vancouver Media.
Vanessa is part of a global campaign to create positive and compelling visions of life in sustainable futures co-led by One Earth. She is a past Board member of the Judith Marcuse Projects and advised the establishment of the International Centre of Art for Social Change, and sits on the Board of the Projecting Change Film Festival.
Vanessa sings, plays cello, and enjoys running and hiking in the natural beauty of her city. She is fluent in English and Dutch, and proficient in French.