IMAGINE Leaders – Carlijn Nouwen

Carlijn Nouwen

Climate Action Platform for Africa (CAP-A), Co-founder

With my friend and colleague James Mwangi, I co-founded the Climate Action Platform – Africa, a novel platform that works to help unlock Africa’s potential as a global hub for climate action that underpins a new climate smart model of economic growth and inclusive livelihoods. The platform’s work is informed by the realisation that Africa’s demographics, growth trajectory and natural resource endowments, coupled with its extremely low levels of current carbon emissions, allow the continent to aspire to a crucial, substantially net-negative carbon footprint sooner than any other part of the world. I have focused on CAP-A full-time since October 2021, leading our data and analytics work and shaping both CAP-A’s strategy and our various programmes. My work focuses on competitiveness, inclusive industrialisation and inclusive business and investment in Africa. Prior to founding CAP-A, I spent nearly a decade as a senior partner with Dalberg Advisors in Africa, leading Dalberg’s inclusive business work. In this role, I developed and pioneered Dalberg’s toolkit on competitiveness assessment and investment prioritisation, leading tens of projects in this space across sectors and countries for public, private and social sector clients. But I also got frustrated with the limited potential for transformative change – driving me to innovate my consulting work, client portfolio, and ultimately leaving client service to chart our own path to impact. Prior to Dalberg, I spent 7 years at McKinsey and Company in the Netherlands and worked for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, following my master’s in engineering. I am singularly focused on impact, deeply fact-based, and impatient. I don’t mind being disruptive – and can be demanding and uncompromising, for myself even more than for others. In life and work, my husband Axel provides relentless support.

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