About me

Maya04aI am an independent researcher, writer and advisor working on the business of sustainable development.

I have been involved in setting up, supporting and researching experiments aimed at reshaping the landscape for business: the relationship between financial regulation and green investment, sustainability reporting, social and environmental standards, socially responsible investment, consumer labels, multi-sector partnerships and public policies to mobilise private investment.

Organisations I have worked with include the Center for Global Development, The B Team, UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System, The Center for Global Development,  The Transparency and Accountability Initiative, Global Green Growth Initiative, Green Growth Global Forum (3GF), General Electric, Publish What You Fund, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, UNICEF, The South African Renewables Initiative, Project Catalyst and AccountAbility. I started my working life at the New Economics Foundation.  I have often worked, and continue to, as a associate of Simon Zadek.

Download my Full CV (pdf)

Stuff I used to work on

Should you want pictures of me they are here (Credit: Barney Cokeliss)

Why so much about tax?  I have followed the tax and corporate responsibility debates over recent years. This blog was not intended to be all-about-tax, but I have ended up writing a number of blog posts here on the topic to try to unpick some of the issues, and frequent misunderstandings which contribute to a fairly dysfunctional debate on the morality, ethics and development impacts of corporate tax issues (more on on my personal motivations here, and also here: ‘1 minute with Maya Forstater’ in Tax Journal).

Why so much about sex and gender? I am starting to write about sex and gender because it is a difficult topic that organisations working in development, human rights and for global social change, and progressive businesses need think clearly about.  I started out, thinking that inclusion must mean being open to people redefining gender and sex. But talking to many people and reading around, I have changed my mind and i think that the idea that a woman is ‘anyone who identifies as a woman’ is regressive, incoherent risks undermining women’s rights. It is critical for inclusion and equality to recognise that male and female sexes exist, that being a woman is a material reality based on biological sex, and that sexism and sex discrimination exist. Everyone’s human rights should be protected, but there are real legal, policy and equity questions about whether male bodied people should have access to women’s single sex services and women’s sports, and I believe that people should be able to talk about the issue.


Forstater, Maya (2018) Understanding illicit financing flows in a development financing context. Development Initiatives Factsheet.

Forstater, Maya (2018) Reading the Missing Profits of Nations. Tax Notes, Volume 160, Number 9. August 27, 2018.

Forstater, Maya (2018) Defining and Measuring Illicit Financial Flows, in Kahler, M (ed.) “Global Governance to Combat Illicit Financial Flows: Measurement, Evaluation, Innovation”. Council on Foreign Relations.

Forstater, Maya (2018) Why illicit financial flows and multinational tax avoidance are not the same thing. International Centre for Tax and Development

Forstater, Maya (2018) Illicit Financial Flows, Trade Misinvoicing, and Multinational Tax Avoidance: The Same or Different? Working Paper

Forstater, Maya (2018) Tax and Development: New Frontiers of Research and Action, CGD Policy Paper. (Also: Brief version)

Forstater, Maya (2017) Illicit Financial Flows and Trade Misinvoicing: Time to Reassess. Centre for Global Development.

Forstater, Maya (2017) How big is the transfer pricing prize for developing countries?, Tax Journal.

Forstater, Maya (2017) Are the big numbers on illicit financial flows misleading, and does it matter? in Lifting the Veil of Secrecy: Perspectives on Capital Flight from Africa (Eds Odd-Helge Fjeldstad,  Sigrid Klæboe Jacobsen, Peter Henriksen Ringstad and Honest Prosper Ngowi)

Forstater, Maya (2017) Beneficial openness? Weighing the costs and benefits of financial transparency, CMI Working Paper.

Forstater, Maya (2016) Illicit Financial Flows and Trade Misinvoicing: Are We Looking Under the Wrong Lamppost?, CMI Insights Briefing, Chr Michelson Institute, Bergen.

Forstater, Maya, Mark Halle and Simon Zadek (2016) Green Finance for Developing Countries: Needs, Concerns and Innovations. UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.

Forstater, Maya (2015) Can Stopping ‘Tax Dodging’ by Multinational Enterprises Close the Gap in Development Finance?, Center for Global Development Policy Paper 69.

www.opengovguide.com (developer/ editor)

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater and Sharmala Naidoo (2012) Shaping a Sustainable Future: Exploring the role of development cooperation in delivering sustainable development , UN Development Cooperation Forum Background Paper.

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater and Kelly Yu (2012- Forthcoming) The Political Economy of Corporate Citizenship in China, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs.

Forstater, Maya (2012) A Commentary on Barriers and Drivers to Renewable Energy Investment in Sub- Saharan Africa, Journal Of Environmental Investing, Vol 2, No 1 (2011)

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater and Kelly Yu (2012) Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Economic Development in China: Implications for Business, US Chamber of Commerce, Washington DC.

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater, Fernanda Polacow (2012) Win-Win-Win ?: Trialing an Approach to Catalyzing Climate, Community and Economic Sustainability at the Core of the Amazon?, Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), Sao Paulo.

Forstater, Maya with Rachel Rank (2012), Towards Climate Finance Transparency, Publish What You Fund, London.

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater, Kelly Yu and Jon Kornik (2010), ICT and Low Carbon Development in China, Digital Energy Solutions Campaign, Beijing.

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater, Edwin Ritchkin, Saliem Fakir, Jon Kornik and Joerg Haas (2010) Unlocking South Africa’s Green Growth Potential: the South African Renewables Initiative , Department of Trade and Industry, Government of the Republic of South Africa, Pretoria.

Zadek, Simon, Edwin Ritchkin, Saliem Fakir, and Maya Forstater (2010) The South African Renewables Initiative: Advancing South Africa’s Low Carbon Industrial and Economic Strategy, Department of Trade and Industry, Government of the Republic of South Africa, Pretoria

Forstater, Maya, Simon Zadek, Yang Guang, Kelly Yu, Chen Xiaohong, Mark George (2010), Corporate Responsibility in African Development: Insights from an Emerging Dialogue, Institute of West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Working Paper 60, Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass.

Zadek, Simon, Chen Xiaohong, Li Zhaoxi, Jia Tao, Zhou Yan, Li Guoqiang, Kelly Yu, Maya Forstater, Guy Morgan (2009) Responsible Business in Africa: Chinese Business Leaders’ Perspectives on Performance and Enhancement Opportunities Working Paper 54, Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass.

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater, Fernanda Polacow and João Boffino (2009) Radical Simplicity in Designing National Climate Institutions: Lessons from the Amazon Fund, AccountAbility, London.

Forstater, Maya and Simon Zadek (2009) Low Carbon Growth Plans: Assessing Current Practice , European Climate Foundation and Project Catalyst, London.

Forstater, Maya, Simon Zadek and Saliem Huq (2009) The Business of Adaptation, AccountAbility, London.

WBCSD (2009) Mobility for Development  , WBCSD, Geneva (co-wrote with WBCSD Mobility working group team)

Rochlin, Steve, Simon Zadek and Maya Forstater (2008) Governing Collaboration: Making partnerships accountable for delivering development, AccountAbility, London. (with Rochlin and Zadek)

Response Project (2007) Understanding Corporate Responsibility – RESPONSE Project Executive Briefing Understanding Corporate Responsibility – RESPONSE Project Executive Briefing (2007) EABIS/INSEAD (with Maurizio Zollo)

Forstater, Maya and Jeanette Oleschagel (2007) What Assures Consumers on Climate Change, AccountAbility , London.

Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater and Jeanette Oleschagel (2007) What Assures Consumers? (2007) AccountAbility, London.

Zadek, Simon, Chris Tuppen, Maya Forstater and Jeanette Oleschagel (2006) The Materiality Report: Aligning Strategy Performance and Reporting, AccountAbility, London.

Forstater, Maya and Thomas Krick (2005) Stakeholder engagment manual  UNEP, Paris.

Forstater, Maya and Paul Monaghan (2004), Issue Management Tool: Strategic challenges for business in the use of corporate responsibility codes, standards, and frameworks, WBCSD, Geneva.

Forstater, Maya and Peter Raynard (2002) Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications for Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries, UNIDO, Vienna.

British Telecom and the Digital Divide (2003 & 2001), London, British Telecom (with Raynard and Zadek)

Forstater, Maya, Peter Raynard and Jaqui MacDonald (2002) Business and Poverty: Bridging the Gap, International Business Leaders Forum, London.

Zadek, Simon, Sanjiv Lingayah and Maya Forster (1999) Social Labels as Tools for Ethical Trade, The New Economics Foundation, London.

Zadek, Simon and Maya Forstater (1999) “Making Civil Regulation Work” (with M Forstater) in M Addo  (editor) (1999) Human Rights Standards and the Responsibility of Transnational Corporations, Kluwer,  Hague

Open Trading: Options for Effective Monitoring of Corporate Codes of Conduct. NEF/CIIR. London. 1997 (With Zadek and Burns).

You can find me here:


18 Responses to “About me”

  1. 1 Marie Grier

    Hi Maya, I found your site via your twitter page, I couldn’t join others to tweet #istandwithMaya, because I was banned for politely disagreeing with a political candidate and having the temerity to cite a source to back up my claim. Back on subject, thank you so very much for speaking truth to this insane presumption of power over. I’m a 60 yr old woman, a rape survivor and the mother of a daughter. I grew up when so much of society was championing women’s rights that it’s like a slap in the face. Your arguments are spot on, we have every right to express our concerns on the wider implications as well as to demand our privacy, safety and rights.

    • 2 Tirelessly Explaining Reality to Fools

      I completely agree with you. I am a bit younger than you but I grew up before everything for girls was compulsorily pink. All the female members of my family went to Greenham. We fought for women’s rights. We chanted ‘NO means NO’. We campaigned against section 28.

      We have the right to men free spaces. We have the right not to have to see penises when we go swimming or try on clothes. We have the right to date who we want to date, or not date at all. We have the right to be gender-free, and not fulfil sexist stereotypes.

  2. 3 Maya D Liar

    HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

    You lost, you stupid transphobic scumbag.

    You are a lying little toerag you. Not a fan of truthiness, eh? #MayatheLiar

    PS: JK Rowling is scum

    • 4 Tirelessly Explaining Reality to Fools

      J K Rowling rocks my world. Maya is fab.

  3. 5 Tirelessly Explaining Reality to Fools

    Thanks for standing up for women and girls. I was #peaktrans-ed two years ago when I was called transphobic for not considering a transman’s surgically created penis to be ‘real’. Since then I was horrified when a friend’s daughter, who had been groomed and raped from the age of 11, and who started to dress as male to put off the rapist, was given T by the Tavistock, without any kind of rape counselling or trauma therapy.

    Keep on fighting the good fight. And JKR is AWESOME!



  5. 7 Gill Gabel

    Thank you so much Maya. Why should women be punished for speaking a scientific fact – that humans who have XY chromosomes throughout their entire body are biologically males of yhe species homo sapiens and are sperm producers – while those who have XX chromosomes throughout their entire body are females of the species homo sapiens and are egg producers.

    This is a different isdue from the rigjts of those of either species to dress and act and call themselves whatever they like, and to have consensual xed with whom so ever they like.
    BUT they cannot ever BE a different sex.

    There are those few in number who are born with chromosomal irregularities – that is a medical problem totally unconnected with the issue you have been fighting.

    Thank you for what you have done for women’s rights.

  6. 8 Tamtam

    Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2022 at 11:46
    Subject: Interview today with Maya Forstater

    Dear Maya I wanted to share this with you. Good luck and thank you for fighting for women’s rights.

    Hi, firstly I suggest you all listen to the interview/cross examination conducted today with Ms. Forstater and count the number of times she was asked if she “regretted” something, (this, of course, carries the implication that what she has said or done is to be regretted)
    then secondly count the number of times her points were dismissed with a “but” …

    I don’t think I have ever heard such a disrespectful tone and strategy towards another woman on Woman’s Hour in my life.
    How do you think this made her feel? or makes other women feel who share the legitimate and important views of Maya Forstater ?

    Towards the end of the item she was attacked for citing scenarios where harm can be and has been done to women by men who wish to be identified as women. The injustice displayed by the interviewer was not only unfair to her, but to victims of male assault.

    The “Woman’s Hour” approach of attacking her defence of women and girls is reprehensible and deeply hypocritical.

    If someone is taking a stance on something, or if making a law, a rule, a deployment, a product or in any strategic plan, the impact must be “played out” for worst case scenarios.
    For instance: you may say that the number of buildings with a particular type of cladding which are likely to go on fire is tiny and not representative of the majority of buildings, therefore anyone who suggests otherwise is, by mentioning the safety issues, causing harm and is actively disrespecting the cladding firm/industry.
    How many girls and women would it be acceptable for to you see abused or discriminated against in order to avoid giving offence (principally to men who wish to be identified as women?).

    Maya Forstater showed courage intelligence, a quiet determination and dignity at all times during this “hostile interrogation”, she was making valid important points on behalf of all women and girls and she was treated badly.
    You owe her and us, an apology.

  7. 9 Jacquie

    I saw your campaign in the online issue of The Daily Mail and would like to say that I support your fight. Fighting for women’s rights does not make a person anti another person’s rights. There are extremely valid reasons why women-only spaces are needed, and ignoring that basic need takes away women’s rights!
    I was born in England but have spent my life in South Africa, where I still reside. We have not been affected by this debate as yet, in fact in our 2022 Census, there were only Male or Female options for gender, whereas there were more than ten options for religion.
    All the best,
    Jacquie Jones

  8. 10 Dan J

    Congratulations Maya. Wonderful day for common sense – sadly a scarce commodity in the general discourse of the day.

    So important for all opinions (and yours are very widely held but seldom voiced) to be heard without fear of being cancelled.

    Absolute vindication. Please keep doing what you do. Thank you.

  9. 11 Keith Hayman

    To Maya Forstater.
    Just wanted to say well done. So good to see such strength and resilience when confronted with a politically correct (sic – incorrect) extremist pressure group society wanting to force their ‘norms’ on everyone else. Too many of us are left cowering after someone plays an “I’ve been offended by your sexist/ transphobic/racist/agist/ or any other alleged transgression” card. People who can, like yourself and JKR should speak up and challenge.
    Unfortunately, out left wing press is not a supporter of free speech and just lives to report a transgression by anyone regardless of the facts.

    Keep doing what you do and ignore the foul mouthed idiots with nothing positive to contribute.

  10. 12 E. Schwab

    Hello Ms. Forstater. I have followed the Guardian’s coverage of your dismissal from the CGD with interest and sadness. I am pleased that the tribunal found in your favour, but less pleased that (at least according to the Guardian) the suggestion was that your speech was offensive but still covered by freedom of expression. Women who express views on biological integrity are being sidelined by a vocal minority as “radical feminists” but I suspect that we are the quiet majority. There is a dismaying recent trend to go a step beyond and characterize us as misguided or having ulterior motives. See the Washington Post “Bette Midler and Macy Gray upset trans advocates. Here’s Why.” July 6 2022. wherein the writer suggests that women who believe in biological integrity are aligning with radical religious conservatives. I doubt that, but it appears that biological women are not leading the discourse.

  1. 1 Putting Privacy at the Heart of Open Government - Open Up?
  2. 2 OpenGovGuide: Putting Privacy at the Heart of Open Government | The Transparency and Accountability Initiative
  3. 3 CDG: Taxing Multinationals: Is There a Pot of Gold of Finance for Development? | The Transparency and Accountability Initiative
  4. 4 Maya Forstater: 5 faits rapides que vous devez savoir - Parc d'attraction - tous savoir
  5. 5 J.K. Rowlings' fallout with the so-called transgender movement is instructive - Bookworm Room
  6. 6 J.K. Rowlings' fallout with the so-called transgender movement is instructive - Watcher of Weasels

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