Photo: Monica interviews Enipcia Juarez, the first woman in Latin America, training men and women to drive 100% electric buses. This chat took place in Panama City and was featured in the Podcast Ponerse Las Pilas.

 Thought leader & Senior adviser

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For 25 years, Dr. Monica Araya has engaged leaders in government, cities, businesses, philanthropies in the integration of sustainability into their strategies. She has worked in various sectors and countries - mostly recently on mobility issues and decarbonization strategies. Monica has co-created strategies and coalitions bringing together diverse stakeholders guided by a shared vision. She has guided initiatives and projects in Latin America, the USA, and Europe -working hand in hand with colleagues from the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia as well. 


She has combined experiences from the public sector, the private sector, and civil society (from citizen groups to global organizations). Today, Monica has various roles, including Special Adviser to the High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, on transport issues. She also advises the Drive Electric campaign --a global effort led by foundations involving all segments of road transportation in her role as Distinguished Fellow at ClimateWorks. She is an adviser to RouteZero, a campaign to get zero-emission mobility commitments by non-state actors on the road to COP26. 


Born in Costa Rica, she has lived in nine countries (Costa Rica, Canada, France, U.S.A., U.K., Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands) and has visited forty-seven countries and Antarctica over twenty-five years of professional work. Monica currently lives in Amsterdam.



Senior adviser 

Mobility-related advisory

  • Drive Electric Campaign by ClimateWorks & Partners 

  • RouteZero by The Climate Group & Climate Champions (co-founder)

  • Global Future Council on Urban Mobility Transitions by WEF

  • Global Partnership for Informal Transportation 

  • Government of Chile's Advisory Board on Electric Mobility

  • Association for Electric Mobility in Costa Rica; citizen group (co-founder)


Climate-related advisory

  • International Climate Politics Hub, ICPH - hosted by the European Climate Foundation

  • 2050 Pathways Platform  - hosted by the European Climate Foundation

  • Long-Term Development Strategies Initiative by the WRI & UNDP

  • Center on Climate & Resilience Research -hosted by the Universidad de Chile

Previous advisory roles 

  • Government of Chile, International Advisory Group for COP25

  • Government of Costa Rica's Decarbonization Plan - Advisory team

  • Low-Emissions Development Strategies for Latin Am & the Caribbean, Steering Committee 

 Monica has a long history of collaboration in Chile, country, joining advisory boards, speaking at key events, and co-hosting a podcast with a former minister.


  • Influential Women in Mobility 2021” (Vulog) 

  • Distinguished Fellow 2021” (ClimateWorks Foundation)

  • Crusader of the Year 2019” (CRUSA Foundation)

  • "Big Thinker"-National Geographic included their series "Mars" in 2018

  • "Guest Editor on Women's Day 2018" at La Republica 

  • 'Inaugural Lecturer 2017" School of Economics, Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica

  •  Mentor at “Next Visionaries 2017” a TED & BMW initiative on the future of mobility 

  • "Mujeres Desafiantes 2017" included in the list of inspiring women by Estrategia & Negocios 

  • Personality of the Future” (2014) by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Monica was the first Latin American to join the all-female expedition to Antarctica,

organized by Homeward Bound, a global leadership initiative for women in STEM.

Co-founder & Thought-leader 

  • Monica has incubated and/or co-created several climate & mobility initiatives

    • Nivela, a Global south thought-leadership initiative

    • Costa Rica Limpia, a citizen group to promote fossil-free mobility

    • Electric Mobility Association of Costa Rica

    • RouteZero, by the Climate Group & Climate Champions

    • LEDS-LAC - a regional collaborative platform for Latin America & the Caribbean

  • ​Monica created the podcast in Spanish "Ponerse Las Pilas" to share stories in her mother tongue about what the transition to a climate and more sustainable economy means for everyday life. It has included stories about mobility, consumer habits, arts, science. 

  • She has published articles in global and local newspapers (See "Writing" section) and given numerous keynotes at key events 

    • MoveOn, rEVolution, TED Summit, TED Climate Countdown, Congreso Futuro, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Smart-Islands Congress, US Green Buildings Council, WEF, and The Climate Group.  See highlights here.

  • Her interviews have been featured in podcasts and online magazines. See Interviews section.

    • Podcasts: The Economist, Foreign Policy, TED en Español, Schneider's innovation podcast, Fully-Charged, rEVolution podcast, Monocle, and many others in Spanish.

    • She has also been interviewed by Project Syndicate, National Geographic, Yale Environment 360, El Pais, Al-Jazeera, BBC Radio, CNN en Espanol, and others.

Monica has shared her ideas in two TED Talks

that have over 3 million views.  

Academic & qualifications 

  • Monica got a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the National University of Costa Rica followed by a Master's degree (MSc.) in Economic Policy with a focus on ecological economics from the National University’s International Center for Economic Policy (CINPE). 


  • She got a Master’s degree in Environmental Management (MEM) from the Yale School of the Environment and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) in environmental management from the Yale Graduate School. 


  • She has led research projects at the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and E3G, the European climate think-tank. She has researched as a consultant for the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), the World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and C40.

Languages & writing 

  • Monica speaks Spanish, her mother tongue, and English is her second language.


  • She studied Portuguese for Spanish Speakers during her time at Yale University 

  • She studied French at the Alliance Francaise in Costa Rica.

Monica has training in creative writing from The Guardian & Univesity of East Anglia program, Oxford University's Summer School, and Amsterdam Writing Workshops. She is writing nonfictional stories about her trips to various cities around the world. 

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