Sovereign Nature Initiative (SNI), a non-profit envirotech foundation headquartered in Amsterdam, has appointed Catherine Bischoff as its first CEO.
With more than 24 years of experience in leadership positions, the Berlin-based leader previously held the Chief Relationship Officer position at factory Berlin. She will now take all of her previous experience in the tech, corporate, and innovation world to the non-profit to help it in its mission to rebalance the relationship between humans and nature.
The objectives that Bischoff has established for SNI are reflective of her tremendous experience and drive to make a change, as she is looking to completely change how organizations think about environmental issues. She said in this regard:
“As CEO of Sovereign Nature Initiative, I want to radicalize the environmental tech sector further. We in tech already have big ideas and sophisticated tools — can we parlay our resources into massive change? Can the futurist vision of an autonomous and profitable nature become a reality in our lifetimes? I believe it can.”
This is not the first time that the newly-appointed CEO has undertaken a task with an immense social impact, having founded the “stealth mode” program during her time at Factory Berlin. Under the program, female and other underrepresented founders received assistance to lift their projects off the ground and bring more diversity to the entrepreneurship space.
How is the transition from CRO to CEO, and what are the main challenges in that shift?
“It’s an exciting step from CRO to CEO, with a whole set of different challenges, but also many rewards,” Bischoff said. “At Factory Berlin, I had the chance to learn from so many ambitious entrepreneurs. Now I have a better appreciation for the end-to-end responsibilities that it takes to run an organization. I’ve been given this excellent opportunity to shape the mission of a truly visionary idea. Finding the right people to help enable that mission and push ourselves in the relationship we have with nature, all while experimenting with other organizations is immensely gratifying.”
Now, this networking experience will be applied to incentivize innovation and collaboration to have a positive environmental impact at a time when it is most needed. Ewald Hesse, Founder at SNI and CEO at Grid Singularity, referred to what he believes Bischoff appointment means for the foundation by stating:
“Catherine is an incredible catch for us. She brings curiosity, passion, and a strong set of values, as well as an extensive global network and reach. We are thrilled to have her at the helm of the Sovereign Nature Initiative.
With environmental concerns continuing to raise, the drive and appetite for change of this new leader will allow Sovereign Nature Initiative to boost its mission to solve nonhuman economics, which is currently focused on developing and incentivizing a different understanding of nature as a provider of resources for economic gain.
Why is that important, and how does giving nature its sovereignty help?
“In a sense, it’s not up to us to ‘give’ nature sovereignty,” Bischoff said. “Part of our hope is to acknowledge the sovereignty it already has, which is to say its power or ultimate authority. We believe a fundamental mindset shift occurs when people are asked to invert the usual power structures of domination of humans over nature. When we begin to think of ourselves as part of nature and to acknowledge nature’s authority, power, and value in itself, it can lead us to new, less human-centric ways of thinking about sustainability and ecology.”
That will take some effort to make possible, but Bischoff is bullish on SNI’s chances of success.
“This is a radical perceptual shift, and it’s hard to maintain for long,” Bischoff said. “We are a selfish and self-interested species. But we are eager to encourage those shifts for individuals through exposures to world-broadening technologies or plant/animal-centric artistic experiences, that release us from the binary human/nature paradigm and instead show that nature has value in itself, for itself, and that it speaks to itself through countless voices. To speak of the ‘sovereignty’ of nature is then a way of acknowledging that nature’s autonomous value extends way beyond national boundaries and human laws, and in fact, contains and surrounds us.”