In the wake of the global climate crisis, advocates, policymakers, and decision-makers alike have been pushing for concrete eco-friendly reforms. Yet, many remain convinced that deviating from the status quo will derail the economic engine that has propelled us to such great heights. Moreover, the idea of fighting against the pervasive notion that a prosperous organisation and environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive would have made any individual sceptic, let alone a woman voicing her convictions in this supposedly male-dominated world. But despite these challenges, some dauntless pioneers didn’t let that stop them, and Dr Yana Leonova is one of the fearless ones.
Yana truly believes that sustainability is the future of investing and one that is simply too crucial to ignore. Having received her doctorate in Economics of Agriculture, Yana also holds a law degree from Russia and has pursued a Master’s in Business Administration from the United Kingdom.
Yana has lived and worked worldwide, dabbling in various industries until she fell head over heels for the blockchain/tech world 8 years ago while taking the Oxford Blockchain Strategy course and helping startups get funded in London. As a founding member of the London Blockchain Foundation and an advocate for disruptive technology, Dr Leonova spearheads digital transformation by drawing in startups and R&D teams from all corners of the world to the UAE, and vice versa, to implement their solutions and expand their expertise. She also lends her knowledge-based consultancy expertise to transform science into business and raises awareness for sustainable solutions as a philanthropist who supports education, the environment, and science.
A multilingual icon who speaks English, German, Russian, and Italian with ease and conversational French, Dr Leonova is a frequent keynote speaker and co-organizer of high-profile events centred around technology. Her recent speaking engagements include appearances at the Lordyfield Expo under the High Patronage of the Minister of Climate Change UAE 2022, the Elite Global Leaders Conference in London in 2022, Invest in Africa webinar in 2022, the Davos World Economic Forum 2022 and 2020, lectures about blockchain at the American University of Dubai, Global Banking School (GBS Dubai Campus), and many more.
The VC and private sectors have hesitated to prioritise sustainability as it does not always guarantee immediate profits, and the effects of change can take time to manifest, such as with air purification. However, the world is shifting towards sustainability, with the government playing a crucial role, even though the initial stages may not yield significant profits. From electric cars to green alternatives, we see a surge in eco-friendly products launched to promote a balanced ecosystem.
The UAE is taking the digital government to the next level with its 2025 national strategy. It is inspired by the OECD policy framework and fully dedicated to fulfilling the United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development vision. As for greening the business landscape, cutting-edge techs like blockchain, IoT and AI are there to add significant value.
Yana’s portfolio is stacked with startups that have an extreme sustainability agenda, and she’s not just sitting on the sidelines: she’s been teaming up with forward-thinking organisations that are in congruence with her convictions, such as BANTgo, providing monetary motivation and easy way to transfer E-recyclables through existing transport networks. Old-school “play to earn” and “walk to earn” – it’s time for “impact to earn” to take centre stage.
Another technology company she works with, called iFarm, enables IT-driven farming in controlled environments. iFarm’s team of world-class IT, agriculture and hardware automation specialists provide cost-effective vertical farming technologies to enable sustainable and responsible indoor farming worldwide. Earlier this year Dr Leonova served as a mentor at the Fast Forward Challenge 2023: Sustainable Solutions Edition, organised by DHL to select among participants pitching their sustainable solution in sectors of logistics and transportation.
Education plays a crucial role in sustainability; the next generation is poised to prioritise environmental responsibility. For example, her 6-year-old son never litters, switches off lights and water not to waste and utilises recycled materials during his craft activities. And it comes so naturally not only from her parents but also from his school, cartoons he watches and books he takes from a school library (joint engagement).
Dr Yana Leonova is indeed an international figure passionate about sustainability and technology. She is participating in and hosting a few events this year devoted to tech and sustainability, These include AIMHigher Romania, an event aimed at inspiring individuals to reach for the stars, where she will be discussing sustainability in space and aviation. Another event, “Girls in Tech,” going to be held in Armenia in late July, focused on empowering women in the tech industry. Additionally, a major event is scheduled to take place during COP 28 in Dubai, which will provide a platform to discuss critical issues surrounding sustainability and climate change. In the meantime, several demo days featuring selected startups pitching their ideas to investors are also planned. Dr Yana is excited about these events and the opportunity they provide to engage with other like-minded individuals and drive progress towards a more sustainable future.
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