She is a Costa Rican anthropologist, economist and analyst. She studied at London School of Economics y and Georgetown University.
She has been granted honorary doctorates by Georgetown University, the University of Massachusetts Boston and Concordia University.
Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2012 to 2016, and participated in negotiating both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.
During her term at the UNFCCC, Ms Figueres brought together national and subnational governments, corporations, activists, financial institutions, religious communities, idea labs, technology companies, NGOs and parliamentarians to agree on the historic Paris Agreement against climate change, in which 195 countries agreed to collaborate on a roadmap towards the future that keeps global warming below 2ºC.
She worked on the design of the main instruments for addressing climate change and is a key promoter of Latin America's active participation in the Convention. In 2016, TIME magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
She was formerly Director of the Technical Secretariat of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) and, in 1995, she founded Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas (CSDA), a non-profit organisation, which she directed for eight years.
Ms Figueres is currently Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, a member of the Board of Directors of ClimateWorks, a World Bank Climate Leader, a Distinguished Member of Conservation International, and leader of Mission2020.
She belongs to the Board of Directors of San Cristobal, S.A.