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Reecha Upadhyay of Purpose Climate Lab India joins Mary & Maeve from Delhi as co-host for this week’s episode on city life. Cities currently consume almost 70% of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. As mayors and their citizens take on the responsibilities of their nation’s leaders in the fight for climate justice, cities start to show their potential as a solution to the global crisis.


Episode 6 Notes:

City resident and co-founder of Help Delhi Breathe, Reecha Upadhyay, tells us how she rallied tens of thousands of voters to pass legislation that will help cap air pollution killing millions every year. She discusses biomimicry with Clare Miflin, who shares her epiphany that nature doesn’t create any waste and that perhaps our misuse of materials is a design flaw. We hear how Clare took her thought to the NYC’s Department of Sanitation and developed the Zero Waste Design Guidelines. And we take a trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone to visit Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, to hear how she watched her beloved city become ravaged by war and disease, before putting it on a path to future green thinking and economic potential.




Reecha Upadhyay

Campaigns Director at Purpose Climate Lab India & co-founder of Help Delhi Breathe

Delhi, India

Reecha is the Campaigns Director at Purpose Climate Lab India, an integral founder of Help Delhi Breathe and partner at Jamun Collective. She is a graduate of The New School in New York.


Although born and raised in India, Reecha has lived and worked in Nepal, Thailand, the US, Switzerland, and South Sudan on behalf of the UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.


She has developed content and communication strategies for environmental justice, human rights, labour rights, and peace and security issues, including the Stop Rape Now campaign and the One Billion Rising campaign in Delhi to end sexual violence.


Help Delhi Breathe is an initiative powered by concerned citizens, businesses and organisations fighting air pollution. It has motivated communities into action, and forced local government officials to pass unprecedented clean air policy for India.


Reecha has rallied tens of thousands of Delhi’s voting residents, to help pass the Delhi Electric Mobility Plan to electrify transportation by 2030; enforce the Delhi Solar Policy which will make the deployment of solar on government and public buildings with solar by 2020 mandatory; and establish a fleet of 1000 electric buses with solar roofs for city commuters.

Reecha asks you to:

Follow  Help Delhi Breath on Facebook and Twitter  and support your local organisations and get involved.

Follow Reecha and Purpose on social media:







Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr

Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE is the Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone.


After 11 years of rebel fighting in Sierra Leone leading to 50,000 deaths and 1,000,000 displaced citizens, her country was left in ruins. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr spent more than two decades serving Sierra Leone both locally, and from her adopted home of the United Kingdom, where she studied at London School of Economics. As a Chartered Accountant, unrelated to politics, she arrived back in Freetown to assist at the end of the civil war. She campaigned against the trade of ‘blood diamonds’, co-founded the Sierra Leone War Trust, and built international awareness of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which earned her an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II.


A growing population in Freetown has translated into environmental challenges, particularly for residents living in deteriorated communities. Given the city’s vulnerability to rains, floods and other new environmental disasters, climate change has been driven to the top of the agenda. As Freetown’s first elected woman mayor, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was handed a clean slate to design and build new infrastructure for the city, and she is taking the challenge to heart.

Yvonne asks you to:

"Think before you use plastic, only use it if you have no other choice."

Follow Mayor Aki-Sawyer on:








Clare Miflin

Co-founder of the Center for Zero Waste Design & founder at ThinkWoven


Clare grew up in leafy England, but for the last 20 years she has lived in the bustle of New York City. Until recently, Clare was a LEED green buildings architect for public spaces in New York City, where her firm Kiss + Cathcart designed green roofs for city schools, the first sustainable, affordable housing project in New York City, and the world's largest, building-integrated, Photovoltaic, thin-film structure over a Brooklyn subway station.


On studying biomimicry, the imitation of nature to solve complex human problems, she realized that nature doesn’t create waste, and began exploring circular material flow. It led her to the belief that waste is a design flaw.


Clare’s research of waste disposal in other large cities, culminated as the NYC Zero Waste Guidelines, and the Center for Zero Waste Design, which amongst many things, will define waste expectations for all new LEED-certified buildings for the first time in its history.

Clare asks you to:

Read Joanna Macy’s description of how to get involved in 'The Great Turning' - or necessary transformation of the world…

Follow Clare on Twitter:


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