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 - on mobility, climate and energy - combining global and local experience.


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 and championing voices from the global south. 


She has combined experiences from the public sector, the private sector, and civil society (citizen groups, activists, scientists, philanthropists). 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, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, U.S.A., France, U.K., Norway, and The Netherlands)- and has engaged actively in Chile.


She has visited forty-seven countries and Antarctica over twenty-five years. She divides her time between Amsterdam, in the Netherlands and San Jose, Costa Rica. 



Senior adviser 

Mobility-related advisory

  • Drive Electric Campaign's Steering Committee  - ClimateWorks & Partners 

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

  • Global Future Council on Urban Mobility Transitions by WEF

  • Global Partnership for Informal Transportation - New Cities

  • Advisory Board on Electric Mobility - Government of Chile

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


Climate-related advisory

  • Climate Champions for COP26 - Global Climate Action Agenda

  • 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 - hosted by 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 -  Decarbonisation Plan to 2050 

  • Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

  • Steering Committee - UNEP Emissions Gap Report

  • Advisory Expert Group - Climate Vulnerability Forum

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

  • Climate Change Capital

  • E3G

 Monica's advisory roles combine global & local work, climate & mobility, developed & emerging economies as well as stakeholders the public, private and non-profit sectors.


  • “Influential Women in Mobility 2021” (Vulog) 

  • “Distinguished Fellow 2021”  (ClimateWorks Foundation)

  • “Crusader of the Year 2019” (CRUSA Foundation)

  • "Big Thinker" (National Geographic interviewed her for the series "Mars", 2018)

  • "Guest Editor on Women's Day 2018" (La República)

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

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

  • "Mujeres Desafiantes 2017" (Estrategia & Negocios magazine) 

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


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

organised by Homeward Bound, a global leadership initiative for women.


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

    • Nivela - Global south thought-leadership initiative

    • Costa Rica Limpia -  Citizen group to promote fossil-free actions

    • Electric Mobility Association of  Costa Rica - Citizen group

    • RouteZero - Platform hosted by the Climate Group & Climate Champions

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

  • ​Monica has also created the podcast in Spanish "Ponerse Las Pilas" to share stories in Spanish about the transition to a climate and sustainable economy - including stories about mobility, consumer habits, arts, science. It is co-hosted with Dr. Marga Gual and Dr. Marcelo Mena


  • She has published numerous articles and book chapters in global and local newspapers

  • She is an experienced keynote speaker and moderator

    • 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.

    • Interviews: Project Syndicate, National Geographic, Yale Environment 360, El Pais, Al-Jazeera, BBC Radio, CNN en Español, and others.

Monica has shared her ideas in two TED Talks

that have over 3 million views.  

Academic degrees

  • National University of Costa Rica - Economic policy

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Economics -School of Economics

    • Master's Degree in Economic Policy (M.Sc.) - Center for International Economic Policy

  • Yale University - Environmental management & policy

    • Master’s Degree (M.E.M.), Yale Environment School

    • Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.), Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Monica's Ph.D dissertation (2006) focused on Brazil, Chile & Mexico.


  • Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy - she led the "Sustainable Americas" Project

  • E3G (European think-tank) - she led work on climate finance for developing countries

  • She has been a consultant to various organisations, including, Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and C40.


  • Spanish: mother tongue

  • English: second language, bilingual

  • Portuguese: studied at Yale University plus immersion course in Paraty, Brasil.

  • French: studied at Alliance Française in Costa Rica.


  • Monica trained with Al Gore in Sevilla, Spain in 2008.

  • From 2012 onwards she has taken courses in creative writing including The Guardian & University 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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