Sonia Castañeda Rial
Nature conservation and systemic change. Innovation, changemaking and networking.
Living in Madrid, Spain
Sonia contributes to nature conservation through the management of organizations and projects. As a child she got inspired by Mafalda, a comic strip character and cultural icon of the sixties with the insatiable drive to question everything.
Her career has been a journey through different approaches to making a positive difference in the world, working as environmental lawyer, professor, activist, freelance, volunteer, advisor, executive director, high rank official or deputy director. For the last 20 years, she has worked for the biggest donor for nature conservation in Spain, Fundación Biodiversidad, a public sector foundation which is part of the government, that collaborates with more than 300 projects per year.
She works at the intersection of policy and projects, working in a diverse stakeholders environment. Sonia’s work is also motivated by the strong connection between nature conservation and the way humans produce, consume, live, connect and relate with nature.
She is concerned about the environmental health of the Planet. She is enthusiastic about restoration of natural habitats, protected areas, wild and rural environments, ocean conservation, nature based solutions and inspiring economic models that respect nature.
Her contribution has been recognized by the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit. She is member of the Council of the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) and is part of the board of organizations such as the Spanish Geographic Society.
Sonia is passionated about mountains. In her free time she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, camping and reading about mountains, rural environments or polar regions. And, of course, she still reads Mafalda with whom shares values like freedom, justice, equality and the protection of the common good and the Planet.