Open and close mobile menu


Insights Helping our clients build and protect biodiversity in Peru

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Francesca Montero, lead for the Biological Sciences team  based in Lima, Peru.

Image of Francesca

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

My name is Francesca Montero. I’m an ecologist with a master’s degree in conservation of natural resources. I’ve led the Biological Sciences team in the Peru office in Lima for over 6 years, managing different biodiversity-monitoring projects, baseline studies and other biological surveys for clients in the mining and oil and gas industry. Before joining the AtkinsRéalis family, I worked in environmental consulting for over 12 years, primarily on projects in rainforest and marine ecosystems, working both as project manager and mammal specialist. 

How are you helping to reduce pollution in your job?

As a team, we actively seek to reduce plastic pollution on every project we lead, particularly when our specialists go into the field. For example, we usually provide our staff with reusable water bottles and food containers. While this might seem insignificant, single-use plastic water bottles and containers are actually the norm when working remote projects. 
When we worked in the office prior to the pandemic, we stopped using disposable plates and cups for office celebrations and set up recycling bins for any plastic bottles the staff would bring in. We’ve significantly reduced the use of printing paper and constantly remind staff to save energy by turning everything off at their workstations when they leave for the day. Carpooling is also encouraged to help reduce pollution.

What inspired you to take an active interest in reducing pollution professionally?

When I started working on biodiversity projects in the Peruvian Amazon 16 years ago, we would find more and more plastic residues from extraction projects in the area scattered along riverbanks. Plastic products and packaging were being introduced to communities and people didn’t yet know how to properly dispose of or manage this type of waste. That’s when I realized how the materials we use can have major impacts on a large scale. Similarly, working on marine projects throughout Peru and abroad, I saw firsthand that plastic pollution was always a constant and affected the marine life we studied.  
Ever since I was little, I’ve had a strong bond with the ocean and the beach. Seeing how pollution was increasingly impacting these ecosystems pushed me to constantly strive to reduce single-use plastics, both in my personal life and my job.

What technologies do you see emerging that will help us in our fight against pollution?

I think one of the most interesting technologies in development is the use of microorganisms that have the ability to “eat” plastic or hydrocarbons, which helps with plastic waste management or even oil spills. There also seems to be much investment going into developing and improving recycling technologies for a variety of materials, which I consider of vital importance in dealing with pollution. Finally, and although it doesn’t really qualify as an emerging technology, I think the internet and social media are powerful platforms for reaching large audiences to share information about how to fight pollution and encourage changes in behavior.

In your personal life, what do you do to help reduce pollution at home?

I try to make conscious decisions about absolutely everything I use, buy or dispose of at home. I separate my organic waste for composting, which I then use for my house plants. I try to buy food from local and organic sources. I never use plastic bags when grocery shopping. I separate all my waste and recycling as much as I can. I’m also very conscious about electricity and using electronic devices. I also try to always choose walking or public transport instead of my car. As a family, we have a habit of picking up plastics when we go to beach or swim in the ocean. I like to remind my kids that individual actions, as small as they may seem, can have an amazingly positive impact.

How would you argue that preventing pollution is good for our economy?

Think about preventing pollution as an investment. Preventing pollution now, means saving the money we would spend in the future to clean up after our inaction. It’s increasingly clear that we are now paying – and will continue to pay – for all the pollution we’ve dumped into the world over the past few hundred years, which is costing billions. Preventing or reducing pollution brings different economic benefits. Job creation, food security, reduced inequality and better public health all contribute to our economy. Many actions to reduce pollution require very low-cost technology and, even if some seem costly, the benefits surely offset the costs in the long term.