Francesca von Habsburg is the the founder of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Foundation, which believes art has the capacity to be a transformational force. Find out more.
One word that describes you?
In your own words, what do you do?
I’m a philanthropic activist. I partner with artists to provide the kinds of support they need to produce exceptional art projects that defy traditional categorization and address the most urgent issues of our time.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
Realising that impact is not as unreachable as when you start. And collaborating with the fascinating people that I meet on my way, who want to make a difference, too!
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
When I run into bureaucracy or corruption, or both.
Who is your greatest influence?
The Dalai Lama, because he showed me that I should trust my instincts and not be intimidated by academia. He also taught me to never give up!
Best advice you’ve been given?
Don’t play to people’s expectations of you. Always surprise them.
What was your Plan B?
There is no plan B, there is no planet B.
Your personal indulgence?
Travel and scuba diving in remote places.
How do you like to travel?
Favourite sustainable hotel or other place to stay?
The Franciscan Monastery of Lopud in Croatia.
What steps do you take to make your life more sustainable?
I make sure to weave the local communities into the conservation projects that I support.
What must happen now to help make our planet more sustainable?
It must be NOW that philanthropists and activists integrate local communities into our projects and work directly with them to produce real results. They are the ultimate guardians of their areas.
Hotels or other places to stay who walk the talk on sustainability in your experience?
The Alpina Gstaad, which was built sustainably from the very beginning, is a perfect example of how to integrate many disciplines in order to implement real change.
If you could have one hour with a world leader, who would it be and what would you say?
The Pope. And I would ask him to continue his pioneering statements about the environment. It’s the first time a Pope has ever spoken about climate change.
Any regrets so far?
That I trust everyone! But it’s better than going through life not trusting.