Dr Nirmala Menikpura named in Marquis Who’s Who for dedication to climate change

21 September 2023

Dr Nirmala Menikpura – a strategic and analytical environmental specialist, and Principal Consultant at Resource Futures – has been named in Marquis Who’s Who for her dedication to the field of climate change.

Established in 1899, Marquis Who’s Who® records the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from fields of achievement, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are considered during the selection process.

The Marquis Who’s Who recognition celebrates Nirmala’s proven abilities to develop global-level environmental tools and models to assess climate change, sustainability, and resource circularity via a life cycle assessment perspective. Holding a PhD in Environmental Technology/Life Cycle Assessment, Nirmala leverages more than 18 years’ experience in climate change, sustainability, waste management, life cycle assessments, renewable energy and policy analysis at international level.

Quantitative models developed by Nirmala – such as the Emission Quantifications Tool (EQT) and IGES-GHG calculator to quantify the lifecycle climate impact from the waste sector – are being used at international level for policy and decision-making. While findings from field surveys quantifying climate and other environmental impacts of various waste treatment options in different countries and regions of the world, have helped provide evidence-based policies and strategies on sustainable waste management at city and national level.

There’s no doubt, Nirmala’s career is full of highlights, and this summer, Nirmala was also featured in Marquis Who’s Who Top Scientists. We sat down with Nirmala to find out the motivations for entering her field and what she hopes to achieve next in her career:

Why did you decide to pursue a career in climate change?

I have always had a deep love for the environment and nature. This love led me to choose a path of higher studies in the field of the environment. As I delved deeper into my studies, my focus shifted towards addressing global environmental challenges. Among these challenges, I identified climate change as the most crucial and urgent issue, especially considering the rising frequency of disasters around the world. Motivated by my passion and a strong sense of determination, I embarked on a journey dedicated to assessing and providing policy recommendations for mitigating climate change on a global scale.

What role does carbon modelling play in addressing climate change?

The quantitative assessment of climate impacts from specific projects, and the identification of options for mitigating these impacts, provide tangible information for policy and decision-making processes. This fact is key to the development of carbon models.

For example, we recently developed a climate model on behalf of the British Coatings Federation to identify the most climate-friendly treatment options for leftover paint and paint containers. Based on our modelling results, we found that if half of the 55 million litres of the UK’s leftover water-based paint were collected and reused or remanufactured (0% virgin content), and displaced use of virgin paint, this would result in approximately 96,000 tonnes of avoided CO2 emissions each year. This is equivalent to avoiding the emissions produced by driving 351 million miles in an average diesel car. Such modelling efforts play a vital role in shaping policies and strategies for carbon mitigation within their respective fields.

Who has inspired you the most throughout your career, and why?

I have been fortunate to encounter many inspiring individuals who have influenced and shaped my professional journey; however, Prof. Ben Basnayake has been a particular source of inspiration. Prof. Ben Basnayake served as my mentor during my bachelor’s degree at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and later became my supervisor when I worked as a lecturer and researcher at the same university.

Under his guidance, I experienced significant personal and professional growth, enabling me to engage confidently at an international level. He not only imparted theoretical concepts but also provided opportunities to apply them in practical settings. Through his guidance, I developed strong analytical skills and learned how to transition laboratory-based research to pilot-scale field projects. His unwavering support and mentorship not only shaped my skills and knowledge, but also instilled in me a passion for continuous improvement and a drive to make a difference in my chosen field.

What is the cornerstone of your success?

Transitioning from an individual in a developing country to becoming an expert in my field at international level today, has been remarkable and at times arduous and challenging. A key factor in my success has been the motivation I derived from my childhood experiences. Throughout my upbringing, I firmly believed that pursuing education was not only essential for personal growth, but also crucial for venturing into the world and making a meaningful difference through service. As an individual from a developing country, I recognised that education was my sole pathway to achieving my goals. This realisation became my driving force and remained a constant source of strength throughout my entire journey.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years?

My primary objective is to assist governments and companies in achieving climate change targets to reach Net Zero by 2050 and advancing sustainable development strategies. To fulfil these ambitions, I plan to further develop global-level tools and models that allow for quantifying the impact of various actions and policies. These tools will provide decision-makers and policymakers with the necessary insights to make informed choices. Through my work, I aim to contribute to positive change on a global scale by influencing policies and inspiring collective action toward a more sustainable and resilient future.

Go to Nirmala’s website bio.