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Our Team

Lauren Hermanus
Founder / Director

“I am most excited by the power of imagination to make possible as yet unknown futures. This capability, which we all share, is fundamental to the creation of a just, inclusive and sustainable world.”

Lauren is a sustainable development researcher and practitioner with 12 years of experience spanning the public and private sectors and academia. She has also worked extensively with IGOs and international development agencies, business and civil society actors from the community to the international level and across scales. Her work bridges gaps between different actors, working to facilitate shared understanding and collaboration, spanning issues of just transitions, climate resilience, sustainable development, and the adaptive and anticipatory governance that underpins these dynamic processes.

For the past seven years, Lauren has operated a network-based research and advisory practice, How We Adapt. She works with various academic partners at the African Centre for Cities (University of Cape Town), The Centre for Sustainability Transitions (Stellenbosch University) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University). Through How We Adapt, she has initiated the Just Urban Transitions project, funded by Agora Energiewende and connected to INETTT, which aims to understand and support the net-zero transition across levels of organisation in policy, planning and implementation, particularly for cities. She used this work to contribute to South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Partnership Investment Plan (JETP IP), a precedent-setting policy to mobilise climate finance in the global South.


In 2023, she co-founded a non-profit climate and transition think tank, Southern Transitions. Its mission is to use evidence, experiments, and new ideas to identify, open and harness real opportunities for just transitions in the global South. She is also a part of the founding team for the Just Transition Lab, which is driving concrete implementation of just transitions.



Amanda-Leigh O'Connell

 “If one considers the complexity and uncertainty that characterises contemporary society, managing risk has become as important as creating value and generating impact. The financial sector, as key risk management institutions, are well-positioned to play a key role to support the flow of capital to manage risk for the public good”.

Amanda-Leigh has twenty years of experience working in various roles in banking and finance, business management, academia and research. Her academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Business Science with Honours in Finance (UCT) as well as a Master of Commerce (UWC) by research on corporate social responsibility as a risk management response to inequality and inefficiency. Proficient in financial analysis and deal evaluation, she has worked across a range of industries in African markets, including energy, soft and hard commodities, property and aviation. She has also lectured Business Finance and Financial Management at the University of the Western Cape.


Building on her finance and business base, her current interests lie in exploring opportunities to leverage the financial sector as a fulcrum to address society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges using risk management as a conceptual framework

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